1) What did your friends and family think when you told them you wanted to study for the priesthood?
I know that for many people the support of family and friends is an important factor in their decision to pursue a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. In my case, the response of my family and friends was mixed. Some of them were very supportive and wondered why I did not enter the seminary sooner while others were surprised and a bit apprehensive about my decision. Still, I entered the seminary and began my studies and further discernment. Eventually, I received their full support when they experienced how happy I was answering God’s call. I would strongly encourage those struggling with this to follow the Lord’s call and trust in Him at all times even if the support of family and friends is somewhat lacking. Ultimately, the Lord will truly provide!
2) What is it like to be a seminarian and what year are you in your studies?
It is great to be a seminarian! It is certainly a busy life preparing for the priesthood. Some days are more demanding than others. Likewise, some days are more enjoyable than others. However, every day is a chance to grow in love of the Lord and of His church. I am in second theology at Theological College and have the wonderful opportunity of studying at the Catholic University of America. Each day is filled with studies, various activities (parish assignments, recreation, etc), and prayer.
3) Tell us one thing that you don’t think most people know about seminary life.
One thing that I do not think most people know is how important prayer is in seminary life and how much time seminarians spend praying. I am awestruck by the fact that all of the chairs in our seminary’s Blessed Sacrament Chapel are filled at least one hour before Mass each morning. While we study and recreate, we also pray a great deal so that we will grow in holiness and be more like Christ the Good Shepherd for the people of God.
4) Who has been the biggest influence on you as a seminarian?
I have been fortunate to be influenced by many wonderful priests both in Syracuse and in Washington, D.C. I am also inspired by the example of my diocesan seminary brothers both at Theological College and St. Mary’s. However, my home parish pastor, Msgr. Eugene M. Yennock, has been the biggest influence on me. He has been and is a wonderful mentor to me because has shown me what it means to be a priest by the way he lives his life. For him, it is not a job, but a way of life.
5) What do like to do during your free time?
I am an organist, so I enjoy practicing from time to time. I also like to play tennis, run, read, watch movies, go out to eat, and enjoy the various activities that Washington D.C. has to offer. My favorite thing to do during my free time is to travel!
6) What do you see as the role of a priest in the 21st century?
The role of the priest has always been the care and salvation of souls (salus animarum). In the 21st century, this is particularly challenging because of a variety of factors: culture, the priest shortage, etc. Still, the role of the priest remains the salvation of souls. And so, the priest must strive to reach people on a variety of levels, especially in the midst of cultural noise which says that religion and God are unimportant. This is certainly a challenge especially since it appears that there are so many people who are hungry for Truth in this day and age. But, I believe that the priest can help satisfy this hunger with Jesus Christ. Thus, the role and the challenge of the priest now is to break through the barriers of the times with the love of Christ; to let people know, by the manner in which he lives his life and carries out his priestly duties, that God loves them.
7) What are you most looking forward to about the priesthood?
I am really looking forward to celebrating the Sacraments for the people of God. I believe that this is the most effective way to bring Christ to the people of this day and age. I also believe that we experience and receive God’s grace in the Sacraments and I am truly humbled by the thought of celebrating them one day, God willing.
8) What are you least looking forward to about the priesthood?
9) Name three people, living or dead, that you’d like to have dinner with.
Mother Teresa, St. Thomas Aquinas and St. John Vianney.