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Getting to Know Your Seminarians: Matthew Boni

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Get to know a little more about the men you are praying for as they continue to prepare for the priesthood.

Age: 27
Year of Study:
Pastoral Year
Home Parish:
St. Joseph Church, Woonsocket

Where did you grow up and go to school?
I am from Bellingham, Mass., but I since I have always been so close to Rhode Island, I would say that I grew up in the Woonsocket area. As a kid, I attended a few schools in the Greater Woonsocket Catholic Regional School System (GWCRS) and my high school was Mount Saint Charles Academy. I then went to the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester. I entered the seminary after I graduated from there.

What does the word “vocation” mean to you personally?
For me, the word “vocation” refers to the way in which we are called to serve God in our lives. God gave us the gift of our lives and the best way to make the most of our life is to give it back to God. We do this by living our vocation. So for me, our vocation is the personal and unique way that we give our lives to God and follow his plan for us.

Favorite Hobbies and/or fun fact about yourself:
I enjoy playing or watching all different kinds of sports. Since the restrictions related to the pandemic were put in place, I have been trying to read more, and I have also begun to enjoy gazing at the stars and planets in the night sky and learning more about what God has created beyond this world. That may turn into a new hobby for me.

How did you discern your vocation to the priesthood?
I remember learning about the different Christian vocations when I was a senior in high school. From that day on, I was simply open to the possibility that God could be calling me to be a priest. Many people had just simply invited me to think about priesthood, and so I did. As I progressed through my college years, I noticed I was becoming much more interested in theology and ministry and less interested in math and science, which is what I thought I wanted to do with my studies. I was also becoming more proficient in the Spanish language and was learning about the cultures and Catholic traditions of Spanish-speaking countries. I was able to do a ministry internship at a parish in the Diocese of Providence which encouraged me more to pursue the priesthood. I kept hearing about the need for priests in our diocese, especially bilingual priests, and I thought that maybe God wants me to be one of them. The idea of becoming a priest just kept getting stronger and stronger, and so toward the end of my time in college, I began the application process to the seminary.

What is something that readers may not know about what it is like to be a seminarian?
Many people ask me how long it takes to be a priest, and they are usually surprised at how long it takes when I tell them that I will be in the seminary for six years before being ordained a priest. What some people may not realize is how quickly the time goes by when we are in formation and follow our daily routines. At least that is the case for me. Ordination day is not as far away as it might seem.

What would you say to a young man discerning the priesthood — or maybe hasn’t even considered it at all?
I would say that you are not crazy if you feel attracted to the priesthood. It is a very real possibility that God is calling even someone like you to be a priest, no matter how inadequate or unworthy you may feel. Also, vocational discernment is done one step at a time, and so there is no need to be anxious about it. For some, the next step is to simply attend a discernment retreat. For others, the next step is to fill out the application. You should ask: “Is God asking me to take the next step?” — whatever it may be. Remain open to God’s will, speak to him in prayer, reflect on your spiritual experiences, and seek spiritual guidance from other priests. If you do so, God will lead you to where he wants you to be.

How do you feel we can best support seminarians?
Your prayers mean a lot to us. Our vocations are in the hands of God so your prayers certainly help us on our journey towards the priesthood. I also think you can support seminarians through your commitment to your faith. It is very encouraging to us seminarians when we go to a parish and see many people who are in love with God, have a hunger for the sacraments, and are joyful about their faith, it is encouraging to us. It shows us that being a priest will be worth it.

What is the most surprising part about being a seminarian?
I have been surprised by the overwhelming amount of support and encouragement I have received since the day it was first announced that I was accepted to the seminary. I did not realize just how happy people, not only Catholics, would be to find out I was studying to be a priest. I didn’t expect people to give the same amount of support to their seminarians as they do to their priests. It has been very encouraging for me to see this.

Are there specific life changes that you have had to make to be successful at seminary formation?
Obviously, my prayer life has had to become the dominant priority in my life. The community life that we find in seminary and the schedule that we follow have helped develop better prayer routines. I noticed that the way I pray seemed to change as I progressed in seminary formation. The way a man prays when he is thinking about entering the seminary is different than the way he prays when he is preparing for ordination.

Is there any person or saint whom you credit with interceding on your behalf to God for your vocational discernment?
I think I owe a lot to St. Ignatius of Loyola. As a student at a Jesuit college, I learned much about his life and his advice on prayer and discernment. I think he was really watching over me throughout my college years and helped to guide me in my discernment.


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