Get to know a little more about the men you are praying for as they continue to prepare for the priesthood.
Year of Study: Third Theology
Home Parish: St. Joan of Arc, Cumberland
Where did you grow up and go to school?:
I grew up in the town of Cumberland, R.I. I have two older sisters who are both married and have kids now, of which I am a proud uncle of them all and Godfather of two of them. I went to Our Lady of Victories School and Good Shepherd School in Woonsocket. I then decided that my faith was already strong enough, so I opted to go to Cumberland Public High School. I then went on to the University of Rhode Island where I studied Computer Science and Digital Forensics (I even spent a semester working at the State Police Forensic Unit which was a very fun and interesting experience!). After I graduated with my Bachelor’s, I continued my studies at URI, entering the MBA program. I completed one year of studies in that program, then left and that’s when I entered the Seminary a year later.
How did you discern your vocation to the priesthood?:
When I was in high school, I had this very profound experience of God’s love for me, and almost instantly in my heart I knew I wanted to give my life back to him, not holding anything back, and I was very attracted to the priesthood. I smile about my time of discernment now because for nearly 10 years after that call from our Lord, I tried to do anything I could to come up with an excuse not to enter seminary and give my life completely to him and his Church! Whether it was fear, selfishness, or simply the fact that I also desired the typical American life of a wife, family, a house, and a good job to provide for my family, I knew in my heart that I kept pushing away the Lord’s call for me. My faith had ups and downs during this period of discernment, but it wasn’t until my dad (who was my best friend) unexpectedly passed away due to sickness that I took the time to step back and re-evaluate what I was doing with my life and what was most important. I began going to daily Mass, growing in devotion to the Eucharist and Our Lady, and I finally decided to do what I was most fearful of — give God my promise and commitment to give myself for His Church in the priesthood. Since I have entered, I am of course still discerning, but more so now where God is calling me each day to grow in order to be a faithful and holy priest for his Church, and more specifically this diocese.
What is something that readers may not know about what it is like to be a seminarian??
I think one thing that a lot of younger people do not expect of us is that we are normal guys! We spend time with friends and family, we have hobbies, we have fun, etc. Diocesan seminarians are being formed to be priests in the world and secular society, so we aren’t preparing for a monastic lifestyle (although monks have hobbies and have fun too!) When I entered seminary and got to meet a lot of good holy men, it was great to see that they too were just like me, having come from different backgrounds, with different interests, etc.
What would you say to a young man discerning the priesthood?
I think I would tell him words that I needed to hear over and over again when I was discerning: “Do not be afraid.” Only the love of God can cast out all fear. If one wants to truly hear the Lord’s voice and cast out this fear, he must be faithful to daily Mass, the sacraments, especially penance. He must have a devotion to the Eucharist and especially Our Lady who will guide him to her son. If a man is in close communication and relationship with our Lord, then he will make it very clear where he is calling him.
How do you feel we can best support seminarians?:
First and foremost: prayer. The devil can especially target seminarians and priests to bring them down, knowing that if he can take them down, he can take down many people with him. It is for this reason that both seminarians and priests need prayer the most. It is through prayer that we can support and lift up our seminarians and priests and entrust them to the loving care of our Lord and our Lady. I know it is the prayers of all of you that help keep us going and give us the strength to persevere, especially in these troubling times in our Church and world.
I would also say to encourage young men and women, and priests whenever you can. I know for me that whenever people give even just simple words of encouragement, especially those from my home parish when I visit, it truly means so much to me knowing that there are so many people praying and thinking of me and all of us seminarians every day.
Lastly, when you hear the word “support” these days, monetary donations just seem to come to mind right away. It is also true, that as a seminarian, we don’t work or have a job, and many times, there are some basic necessary expenses and also some extraordinary financial burdens that we can face during our time in seminary. It is from the past and current generosity from all of you to efforts such as the Catholic Charity Appeal that makes it possible for us to focus on our prayer and studies and not have to worry about many of the financial burdens of life that can sometimes arise. We truly are so blessed and grateful to all of you for all of your support: in prayer, encouragement, and in your generosity. Thank you so much. You have no idea how much it all greatly helps us.
Who do you credit with interceding on your behalf to God for you vocational discernment?:
Thanks be to God there are many that I credit for interceding for me and my vocational discernment. First, I want to thank all of you for your constant prayers for myself and all of us seminarians, even before you knew us. I know just how many people there are praying for more vocations to the priesthood and for our seminarians and priests. Thank you.
I also know there were (and are) many in my home parish that were praying for me to become a priest since I was in second grade. There are many faithful people from my home parish who saw in me, before I even saw anything in myself, a call to the priesthood.
My maternal Grandfather used to always tell my mom every time I altar served at Mass just how proud he was to see me up there at the altar of God. He passed away when I was young, and I just remember him being one of the most saintly and humble men I knew. I looked up to him and his faith in God and the Church. The day that I had my first initial profound call to the priesthood, I knew and felt in my heart the prayers and intercession of my Grandfather, and I know he still prays for me every day.
I also want to give credit to my parents, both of whom brought me up in the faith and showed me how to be good, faithful, honest, generous, and loving. I wouldn’t be in seminary without the love and support of my parents. I am so grateful to them and feel so blessed by God to have been given such wonderful parents. After my father passed away, I know more than ever now he is praying for me before God for my vocation. I also want to ultimately give credit to Our Lady and to God himself. It was when I began to say my daily rosary and go to daily Mass that my vocation became more clear. It is through the grace of God alone that I am here as a seminarian today, and God-willing one day his priest.
Favorite hobbies and/or fun fact about yourself?:
When I was younger, playing baseball was my life. I loved it so much that my future long-term plan was to hopefully one day play professional baseball. That plan was faltered when I had an irreversible arm injury that basically ended my baseball career. Now that I look back at it, maybe it was for a reason so that I could listen more closely to God’s call for me to priesthood! Other things that I love are music, and playing instruments such as guitar or drums, and exercising/working out. I also love working with my hands and really enjoy doing house projects, repairing things, etc. A good hard day’s work with your hands is so rewarding! I also love to spend time with family and friends, enjoying their company. Other than that, I consider myself to be a pretty simple guy!
— Photo and interview by Laura Kilgus