I suppose that my vocation to the priesthood is less of a calling and more of a sacred love affair. I don’t mean to sound scandalous, but when I was a teenager, I fell in love – with God. There were a convergence of events that took place (including starting to go to Eucharistic Adoration, a pilgrimage to Rome, youth retreats, and – ironically – taking a secular philosophy class at a local community college) which drew me closer to the Lord and I discovered, for the first time, His personal, passionate love for me. When I thought of the depths of His inﬁnite love for me, what He did upon the Cross, the way that He has pursued and wooed my heart from the first moment of my existence – how could I not want to give my life totally to Him?
I am blessed that on May 25 I will be able to swear a covenant with Him, whereby I am His forever, and He is the only love of my life for all eternity. Yet that love, which binds me to Him forever, drives me forth to bring His holy fragrance everywhere. Once I experienced how His love changed my life – giving me hope, peace, joy that I never knew possible – then I knew that I had to go and preach about Him everywhere I go, “full-time,” as it were. And that is why I decided to become a priest. I’ve done lots of ministry over my many years of seminary formation (it’s now been 12 years since I first joined right out of high school!). Having done lots of various types of ministry, I have found that my greatest passion is preaching and teaching the Faith. I believe that God is not loved because He is not known! The more I learn about God – through studying the Bible, our Catholic tradition, the Mass, the Saints – the more I can’t help but love Him for the incredible love He has shown to us first.
There is a ﬁre burning in my bones to let others know of the richness of our Faith and of our good God’s personal, passionate love for each one. Our country’s poverty isn’t a poverty of material goods – our main poverty is a lack of love, a lack of faith. I believe that the root cause of all unhappiness in our world today is sin – we suﬀer because of other peoples’ sin, and we suﬀer because of our own sin, because all sin is a lack of love.
I want to teach others how to love – not in an abstract, feel-good way, but in a real and tangible way: first to love God above all else by practicing our Catholic Faith with fervor and zeal, and then to love our neighbor by laying down our wants, our desires, our very lives for them. This is why I want to be a priest: because I believe that our greatest happiness, our greatest freedom, our only hope to peace is found in a passionate relationship with God and sacrificial love for our neighbor. And with my preaching and teaching, I want to share with others how to find this happiness that we all hunger for.
Finally, I want to say that the priesthood is not my ultimate goal. It never was. The goal is to become a saint. The priesthood is just the way that I sensed God inviting me to live out that call to holiness. But you and I share the same calling – to become saints, to be holy men and women in every situation of our lives. The world needs saints! It cries out for lives of authentic holiness!
Pray for me that I may become one, and I will pray – and work hard, every day of my priesthood – that you will become a saint, too.