I have been blessed to fly under the radar these past five years, meaning that no one has really asked me to write about myself. Now, I have been asked to describe some of my experiences that have led me to this point in discernment and some unique things about me that I will be bringing to the priesthood. As I am currently studying Teresa of Avila, she advises that much spiritual growth can come out of obedience, even when it is not a natural desire. So I would like to begin in humility, asking that you who read this try to understand that God has gotten me to this point, and I am sure that He is calling me to serve Him at the altar.
In my years as a PTA, I realized that there is a great need for good to be done for others and much good that I could do for them, but that many times the care that you can provide is limited by requirements imposed by insurance and outcome projections. Many times I would spend free time in the facility and just visit with both staff and patients. Towards the end of my working career, I would take my dog, Gandolph, in to the nursing home where he was adopted by many of the residents. The one thing that I remember most about my time as a PTA was the great need that people have for relationship; just a simple connection and a sense that others care about you. This great desire can only be satisfied by something greater than ourselves, because the relationships we have here are only beneficial if they guide us to something beyond ourselves.
So people don’t think that I only sit around with my nose in a book or in the chapel praying (which I do spend a lot of worthwhile time doing) I would like to mention one of the outreach programs I am involved in here at Saint Meinrad that has also contributed to my formation. The Cooperative Action for Community Development (CACD) organization was begun about 40 years ago and has assisted people in the community around Saint Meinrad, while giving seminarians an opportunity to use their pastoral education in a real environment. One of the only remaining branches of CACD is project WARM.
I must add that being a transplant from California to Indiana might seem like it would be a difficult thing, being away from family and the roots that I grew up with, but my parish family has really become a part of who I am as both a Catholic man and as a person. Everyone from the parish staff, the youth group, the teachers in the school and those that just stop to give words of encouragement after Mass, have all helped me to remember that this is not a path that I am taking by myself or for myself. This is the path that God has set before me, and the people of God are behind me every step of the way.