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Getting to Know Your Seminarians: Stephen Coutcher

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Learn more about the Office of Vocations at catholicpriest.com

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

Age: 22

Year of Study: Pre-Theology I

Home Parish: Sacred Heart Church, West Warwick

Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in West Warwick, where I attended public school through middle school. I then started at Bishop Hendricken for high school and graduated in 2016. I attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where I earned a bachelor’s degree this past December. I majored in International Affairs, with a concentration in Security Policy and minored in Russian Language and Literature.

What does the word “vocation” mean to you personally?
God has a plan for each of us in our lives — a vocation. It is our purpose in life to find out what that plan is and to follow it to its fullest extent. Vocations are not just jobs or careers. They are lifestyles, to which one must devote their entire being.

Favorite Hobbies and/or fun fact about yourself:
I love early 19th century Russian literature, keeping up-to-date on the news, talking about politics and history, and traveling to new places.  For a fun fact, I lived in Ukraine for a summer where I taught English to native Russian/Ukrainian speakers.

How did you discern your vocation to the priesthood?
I was blessed to have a fantastic upbringing in the faith since my childhood. I have incredibly devout parents, who made sure to raise my brother and me as practicing and informed Catholics.
I also am beyond blessed to have a wonderful pastor, Father Bucci, who taught me so much about the faith and the rich tradition of the Church. Additionally, when I went away to college, I became heavily involved in our Knights of Columbus College Council and in my parish community. Both truly helped to grow and sustain my faith.
However, as I began college I did not want to be a priest; I wanted to pursue a career in government. Because I was fortunate enough to study in our nation’s capital, I had ample opportunities to get hands-on work experience in conjunction with my studies. It was through these experiences, which I still cherish to this day, that I began to realize politics was not for me.
My turning point came during my junior year, a couple months after I began an internship in the White House. I recall sitting at my desk at work one night, finishing up a project, and thinking “I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.” Immediately, a thought popped into my head, completely out of nowhere: “you could be a priest!”
Shocked as I was at first, over the next few months I began to explore the priesthood more and more. Seemingly the more I thought and prayed about it, the more I saw entering seminary as the clear choice for my life after college.

What would you say to a young man discerning the priesthood — or maybe hasn’t even considered it at all?
The most helpful tool during my discernment thus far is silent and contemplative prayer during adoration or before the Blessed Sacrament. Take the thought of the priesthood with you to prayer and ask the Lord if he is calling you to be one of his priests. Additionally, make an effort to pray the rosary daily, asking Mary to intercede for clarity in your discernment. Also, talk to your Vocations Director!
Don’t be a “cyber-discerner.” It truly helps to talk about everything you’re experiencing with somebody who’s been there. He can answer any questions you may have about seminary life far better than anything you’ll read online!

How do you feel we can best support seminarians?
I think prayer is the most powerful means of support one can give to us seminarians. Please remember us in your prayers! Moreover, encourage more vocations to the priesthood! It gives us great joy to see more and more young men say “yes” to the call and enter seminary to more closely discern their vocation. It certainly gives me courage, in my own vocation, to see a great number of guys enter with me.

Is there any person or saint whom you credit with interceding on your behalf to God for your vocational discernment?
I could go on and on naming all of the incredible people in my life who have been praying for me, especially my family, friends, and my pastor. I could similarly go on with all the saints whom I’ve besought for their intercession. To just name one, I found St. Jean Vianney was particularly helpful during the early period of discernment. I had the unique opportunity to pray before his heart, when I was still living in D.C. It was an incredible experience, and as I begged for his intercession before his priestly heart, I began to feel a sense of peace and assurance that I was being called to enter seminary.

— Photo and interview by Laura Kilgus


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