Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How I Got Here

Last year I penned an article for Rochester's Catholic paper explaining, in brief, who I was, whence I came, and what my first year in seminary was like. Without further introduction, here it is:

Raised a Methodist, I never imagined I'd find myself studying to be a Catholic priest, but following God's will sometimes takes you in an unexpected direction.

During my freshman year at the Rochester Institute of Technology, I began attending Mass with some Catholic friends, and eventually I even started going to some Catholic Bible studies. That experience left me with a lot to think about, and the more I prayed and the more I read over summer break the more I was convinced that the Catholic Church was truly established by Jesus Christ. I discovered, with John Henry Cardinal Newman, that “To be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant.”

I was received into the Church not long after summer break ended, and the experience of my second year of college was one of constant grace. The things I looked forward to most were praying the Rosary, studying the Scriptures, and going to daily Mass. Although I still gave my best effort to my schoolwork, my classes in Information Technology quickly receded to a place of secondary importance. I wondered whether God wasn't calling me to do something else with my life.

This question was answered for me during a six-week Study Abroad program in Kanazawa, Japan. There I was, half a world away from everyone I knew, with countless opportunities to experience things, and yet the thing I looked forward to most each day was going to Mass. Whether the prayers were in English or Japanese mattered little, because the Eucharist was the source and summit of my life. One can only find joy in doing the Lord's will, and more and more it seemed like His will for me was to enter the priesthood.

Five months before graduation I contacted Fr. Tim Horan, our Vocations Director, and got an application to Becket Hall, the Diocese's house of discernment. I moved in immediately after receiving my degree from R.I.T. and began studying Philosophy at St. John Fisher College while working part-time as the diocesan Webmaster. This year was, in its own way, another year of grace. Through my work at the Pastoral Center and at Blessed Sacrament, my parish assignment, God confirmed to me over and over again that this was where I was supposed the be. At the end of that year, I was told that the Diocese would send me to Theological College, a Seminary in Washington, D.C., and this latest chapter of my journey to the Priesthood has been yet another great blessing.

Seminary is definitely the best environment in which to discern a priestly vocation. The men here “encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,'” as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews. While I've learned much in the ten classes I've taken this year, I dare say I've learned even more just hanging around the hallways of the Seminary! The men here come from dioceses all over the country and around the world, and each one of them has his own insights to offer on one topic or another.

My first year in Seminary has also been very spiritually enriching. All men entering the Seminary are required to find a local Spiritual Director, and the first thing mine told me to do was to keep a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament every day. Even if this had been been my only accomplishment this year, it would all have been worth it!

I don't mean to paint too rosy a picture. There are trials — I certainly expect the nine weeks of intensive Latin I take this summer to put me through my paces! — but every encouraging e-mail, every care package, every card filled with assurances of prayer is a reminder of why I am here: to serve God's people.

Please pray for me and my fellow seminarians, pray for the men entering Becket Hall next Fall, and pray for vocations. God will do great things for the Diocese of Rochester if only we ask Him.


  1. An absolutely amazing story. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    You'd be surprised how many people find their way to the Catholic Church after being raised Protestant. Many of the prominent Catholic writers and bloggers around grew up in one Protestant denomination or another. So often we hear about Catholics falling away from the faith, but it is stories like yours that prove that although some sheep wander off and get lost, others find their way back home.

    "I certainly expect the nine weeks of intensive Latin I take this summer to put me through my paces! "

    But it will be well worth it! :-) Study the language of our Church hard. We have so few priests nowadays who are proficient in the Church's mother tongue.

    The Lord's blessings be with you and your fellow seminarians, as well as our prayers.

    ~Dr. K

  2. Thanks for sharing, Peter - truly inspiring. I'm also a convert and an IT guy (software developer). I often dream of writing a book about theology from a software perspective, but then again I'm a little nuts.

  3. Great post. I will keep you in prayer.

  4. Thanks, all, for your prayers and support.

    Dr. K.: this was written back in April, so I should say that, indeed, taking Latin was well worth it! Taking three semesters' worth of Latin in nine weeks was an exacting experience, but has already had a tremendous payoff for me.

  5. I'm glad to hear this.

    Ben... another computer guy right here!

    ~Dr. K