I first imagined the priesthood when I was 7 years old. Living in Vicenza, Italy, at the
time, I took the liberty of erecting a “mini-altar” in my room, complete with crucifix, tea
lights, and handkerchief-corporal. Though I can honestly say I have never been guilty of
impersonating a priest, I have certainly reveled at the thought of fulfilling the divine
office, even at that early age.
Throughout the years, the Holy Spirit has continued to tug at my heartstrings and whisper to my soul; would there be a more rational, concrete raison d’être of my calling to Christ, but the best explanation I found is illuminated by the words of our Lord in St. John’s Gospel. “You did not choose me, no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; so that the Father will give you anything you ask Him in my name. My command to you is to love one another” (Jn 15:16-17).
My family, aware of my early devotion and potential vocation, has remained supportive
of any path I—or my sister, for that matter—might choose. Since inclinations toward the
priesthood remained evident throughout my childhood and into my teens, my decision to
apply as a seminarian for the Diocese of Saint Augustine at age 20 was a welcome
confirmation of answered prayers. Both my mother and hers, in particular, helped kindle
in me the fire of curiosity which precipitated a burning desire to understand all things.
From my earliest experiences with our Church, I would ask them what this or that means
and “why we Catholics do such-and-such.” As a result, a strong sense of faith enveloped
me, both in the Triune Love and in the Church and her wisdom.
If asked what career path within the Church I wished to pursue even five years ago, my
riposte would have been, “A religious order.” The accounts of Franciscans intrigued me,
the studies of Jesuits absorbed me, and, in recent years, the mission of the Passionists has inspired me. In fact, the mission of the diocesan priesthood seemed rather mundane to me. At any rate, government and politics spoke volumes to my heart during my last years of high school. Religion had remained a constant; indeed, the very promotion of
Christian notions of virtue, community and pursuit of the Good was what drew me into
the political realm.
During the summer after my first year at Flagler College, however, I began attending
daily Mass and meditating deeply on my life’s discernment; quite plainly, God gave me a
new pair of glasses through which to view my path. Now the overriding question tugging
at my heart was twofold: through which field (politics or religion) would my soul most
profit and in which field would I best be able to serve the most amounts of people. The
answer on both counts was crystalline. “But you are a chosen race, a kingdom of priests,
a holy nation, a people to be a personal possession to sing the praises of God who called
you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9).
If you are discerning a vocation, know that I am praying for you. Be open to the Lord.
Have faith, and trust in Him! Per Deum, omnia!
Pontifical North American College
00120 Vatican City State