Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Chris Larkins: I grew up in Dacula, GA, northeast of Atlanta, and I attended Dacula Elementary, Middle, and High School. My home parish is St. Lawrence Catholic Church in Lawrenceville, GA, where I also have received all of my sacraments of initiation. This past May, I “got out” of Georgia Tech as I virtually graduated alongside my comrade Will Whitlow (another new seminarian), with a B.S. in Industrial Systems and Engineering. Finally, if the question is: did you dye your hair, the answer is no. That is a fun story.
Bryan Roberts: I am originally from the South Florida area having lived in Boca Raton and Jupiter, Florida. My family moved to Alpharetta, Georgia when I was in 8th grade. We attended St. Brigid Catholic Church in Johns Creek. I graduated from Georgia College and State University two years ago with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. At GC, I walked on the basketball team and played for one year. Upon graduation, I accepted a job with The Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS). I was assigned to The University of Memphis, where I have been living the past two years serving college students in their faith journey. I have not had a lot of bbq from different cities, but in case you are wondering, Memphis BBQ is very good!
Chrystian Bis: I grew up in Gainesville, GA. My home parish was Prince of Peace in Flowery Branch, but I was baptized in Poland. I graduated with a B. B. A. in Finance at the University of North Georgia. Afterwards I began working at a company called DecoNetwork, which was very hospitable to me while I discerned the priesthood. In my spare time I am also a big connoisseur of food, especially Polish food.
Will Whitlow: I grew up in LaGrange, Georgia, about an hour South of Atlanta. My home parish is St. Peter’s, where I served as an Usher or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion throughout high school. In May I graduated from Georgia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. During my time at Tech I received many great blessings in the form of friendships, including with fellow recently accepted seminarian Chris Larkins. As part of my degree I love creating and maintaining computer systems, which is why I personally went through the process to build and host my own personal website.
How did you discern priesthood and entering seminary?
Chris Larkins: I discerned the priesthood through others who were figures of authority and trust in my life. I first thought of the priesthood the summer after I graduated from high school as the youth director at my home parish handed me a flyer to attend a Quo Vadis retreat. Over the next four years and through the guidance of holy priests, I was introduced further into the life of a priest. Throughout my time at Georgia Tech, I became a leader at the GT Catholic Center, served at Mass, and frequently visited Jesus in the chapel. All in all, God made it clear by the joy he brought into my life that I need to further discern the priesthood in seminary.
Bryan Roberts: Good question. The first thought of priesthood came to me in when I was 19 working at Life Teen Camp in Dahlonega for two summers. It was there I met priests that humanized the priesthood for me. I became friends with some, and their witness of faith and joy caught my attention. I began to discern seriously my junior and senior year at Georgia college. I started to pray learn more about the vocation, spending more time in prayer, frequenting the sacraments more, and attending retreats, while simultaneously growing as a leader in the Catholic community and serving my peers in bible studies, retreats, etc.
Leading up to graduation, I was considering applying to the seminary but the lovely FOCUS missionaries at GC invited me (gotta love those invitations) to apply and attend an interview weekend with FOCUS. After applying and going to interview, it was pretty clear God was calling me to be a missionary. Through my experience with FOCUS both as a student and as a full-time missionary on campus, I was able to diligently and actively discern the vocation of priesthood. It was pretty clear after a year-long dating fast, fervent prayer, and while living out the mission of the Catholic Church, that God was inviting me to say “yes” now!
Chrystian Bis: I started seriously considering the priesthood during my weekly adoration. I really had no idea where to start, so I began with the basics: reading theology and going to daily mass. Over time I reached out to many priests, and received tons of good advice. My process took me to visiting the Dominican Order in St. Louis and Atlanta, the Trappists at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, and St. Vincent De Paul seminary. While I did not always find discernment the easiest journey, over time I found it clear the path God has laid out for me.
Will Whitlow: For me, the path to seminary began when I was 15 years old and had an encounter with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament during a high school retreat. In this encounter, I first felt the nudging that God might be calling me to become a priest. As I went through high school, though I shifted my focus towards computers which led to me applying and attending Georgia Tech, the nudging of the call never left. Through the friendships and opportunities afforded to me by the Georgia Tech Catholic Center (Adoration, Bible studies, retreats), I was able to receive the graces I needed to enter seminary.
Chris Larkins will begin pre-theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach (FL) this year. He is looking forward to the community there, visiting his grandma nearby, and becoming fluent in Spanish.
Bryan Roberts will also start pre-theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in the fall. He is excited about community life, going back to Florida, and learning philosophy, theology, and Spanish.
Chrystian Bis too will begin pre-theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary. He thinks seminary will be the opportunity to gain a more mature understanding of my faith.
Will Whitlow will start pre-theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans this year. He looks forward to the awesome community there, the opportunities for prayer, and the classes in philosophy.