Reflections from a Diocesan Priest
Life for me began with struggle and concern. I was born on August 13, 1971 in Burlington, Vermont. I was not getting enough oxygen and needed to be put under special care. No doubt my parents, who are both strong Catholics, were praying for me. My struggles did not end with my birth. In my childhood I suffered from nightmares and frequently woke up crying and calling for my mom. She would console me by encouraging me to pray to Jesus and our Blessed Mother Mary to help bring me peace and get me back to sleep. This was my introduction to Mary and the importance of her intercession in my life. My faith and prayer soon became a big part of my life.
I grew up with two older brothers and two younger sisters with whom I played, fought at times, and learned to love and respect. By the example of our parents we learned our faith. As a family, we attended Mass Sunday. My parents instilled within me a love for the Church and God.
In high school I had a personal experience with God. During this experience, which lasted only a moment, I heard God offer to me the vocation to the priesthood. I was shocked by this encounter and immediately dismissed the offer and thought of other more attractive options for myself, including marriage. I kept this spiritual encounter to myself and continued on to college and life after graduation. All the while the thought of becoming a priest would again and again present itself to me in various ways. Sometimes people I did not even know would ask me if I was thinking of being a priest or they would say, “You would make a good priest.” Often times I dismissed them with a shrug and went about finding my own happiness.
After college I had two serious dating relationships. With both of these women I thought about marriage but I could not make the commitment because again the priesthood kept calling, nagging at me really. After the relationships ended I began to get more serious about my faith and my life. I attended daily Mass. I became open to the possibility of priesthood. I confided my thoughts to priest. We talked about my vocation. And then I began to pray about it.
I had come to the point of surrender. I had sought happiness on my own, but I was not successful. I decided to take God up on his offer of the priesthood and I cannot be happier. Sure there are still struggles for me and challenges, but I find my life as a priest fulfilling and joyful.