Ten years ago, I entered seminary formation with the hopes of discerning a call to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. They were wonderful years at Mount Angel Seminary and Saint Patrick’s Seminary & University. Many experiences, countless lessons, and room for constant growth.
In 2013, I freely discerned God’s will outside of seminary and entered into a teaching post at two Catholic schools in the Sacramento area. It was a wonderful time in my life to inspire children to sing and make music and at the same time instill a love for the faith which I have treasured my whole life.
Following this chapter, I decided to follow the promptings of my heart and sought the desire to give seminary life another try. On that road back to seminary, I was sent to do pastoral work at Saint Joseph Parish in Lincoln. This experience was another gift in my life as it taught me to serve the elderly and allowed me to lead God’s people as Director of Religious Education. After my summer in Mexico, I found myself back in Portland, Oregon ready to give seminary life one more attempt.
Returning to Mount Angel has been an immense gift to me! Not only did I return to academic pursuits and the intense spiritual and pastoral life, I came to rediscover the joy of living with friends whom I have come to know as brothers and journeying with them in our intimate pursuit to serve the Lord and his Church.
This has been my journey thus far and I have had a heart filled with gratitude for what God has done for my life … and now a final turning point with a clear direction:
On Tuesday, February 21 I received a direct sign that gave me the complete clarity to the fact that I am not called to the ministerial priesthood of Jesus Christ. In all my attempts to serve the Lord these past ten years in this way, in my desire to know him more and to love him with my all … I’ve come to the absolute certainty that the Holy Spirit moves me to embrace this point in my life. I packed my bags on Tuesday evening with the help of brothers to say farewell and to express my gratitude to them for allowing me to be utterly human and live in the joy of their friendship. Following Christ means taking up the cross every day in imitation of him. It is a great consolation knowing that brothers helped me bear that cross that constantly purifies us.
I returned to California on February 22. Now, I can move on in my life knowing that a new beginning is upon me and I am at peace.
These sentiments may cause some to doubt, may cause some to be confused, and in reality may cause the loss of some friends and colleagues … but for me, I am at peace for I know with certainty that God has led me in this process that has stretched me in every direction, purified my intentions, strengthened my love for the Lord, and has helped me to grow in my holiness.
These are my complete sentiments and reflections, nothing added or taken away. Finally, these words from an anonymous Portland poet seem to put into words the feelings of my heart in this past decade of pursuing divine love. On to a new beginning:
There’s so much love we are capable of
And that we are created for.
I see a love story
A story that nitpicks my heart which slowly peeks through a smile
And the sparkle in the eye.
There is so much love
That brings out a natural
Joy in all we do.
Tears are bursting out of me
Stopping it I could not do.
Let me pass through this ecstasy and rest in the bosom of this love.