I enjoy long walks through the mountains to cast cursed rings into magical volcanoes. Mostly joking, but I am here to ascend the Lord’s mountain in holiness, and in so doing, fulfill the Father’s will for me and to complete the mission He has given me. That said, my primary vocation is love.
Tell us your vocation story.
My primary vocation is love. My secondary vocation manifested when the priesthood saved my life, which is not hyperbole: the Lord has saved me from darkness time and time again, and thus reveals His will for me through continued discernment at the seminary, something I never would have considered on my own. From a severely premature birth with low expectation of survival; to growing up as the oldest of twelve in a large Catholic family; to attending a federal military academy and commissioning as an intelligence officer; to serving in advanced special operations and deploying to the Middle East; to pursuing marriage in my late twenties; to being knocked off my horse en route to Damascus; to fleeing the world in shame and defeat; to being welcomed back home into the Lord’s love in the form of the St. John Paul II house of discernment; to being humbled in deep suffering as the Lord revealed me to myself, helped me face my brokenness, and healed my wounds; to being grounded securely in the Father’s love and receiving my new identity as His beloved son; to maturing in virtue and experience in the spiritual life; to experiencing the most intensely beautiful, pure, and true love, and recognizing Christ Himself was its source and summit; and to receiving the Lord’s humble yet mysteriously great request that I follow Him out of obedience to the seminary in my pursuit of His love: my entire existence bears witness – as is proper to one named Christ-bearer – to the Lord’s saving hand upon me as He Himself continuously draws me out of darkness and leads me into the light of His love. I imperfectly carry the Lord in my heart and life, but He carries me in His love as the infant I am: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you."
What is the greatest challenge facing a man considering the seminary?
1) “Primacy is His in every way”, meaning: He must increase, we must decrease. We must arrive at the humble recognition that our lives are not our own, and that primacy is the Lord’s regardless of our station in life. While He will not disregard our desires (or what we think we desire), He asks we trust Him during our search, in light of His promise to grant every one of our desires in good measure at His appointed time. Obedience and humility are implied here.
2) We must also recognize there is suffering in each vocation as the Cross is the means by which death was conquered, and the same means by which we receive life eternal. Once we accept this great inevitability, we are better equipped to respond more fully to the Lord’s invitation to pursue one vocation or another.
3) As “the man who thinks he knows does not know as he ought”, put your trust not in princes but in the Lord alone, who will reveal you to yourself and guide your feet into the way of peace. The Lord works through and in His Church, so you don’t have to “figure it all out” in isolation.
What is your favorite psalm verse and why?
The Lord's revelation to my Master:
"Sit on my right:
your foes I will put beneath your feet."
The Lord will wield from Zion
your scepter of power:
rule in the midst of all your foes.
A prince from the day of your birth
on the holy mountains;
from the womb before the dawn I begot you.
The Lord has sworn an oath he will not change.
"You are a priest for ever,
a priest like Melchizedeck of old."
The Master standing at your right hand
will shatter kings in the day of his wrath.
He shall drink from the stream by the wayside
and therefore he shall lift up his head.
The Lord’s love is wild, not tame, nor fully grasped by us without His grace; we serve the Lord God of hosts and long to look on His face. This Psalm captures the grandeur, mystery, power, and primacy of the Lord, to name a few.
What are your favorite activities outside of the seminary?
Swimming, hiking, praying, writing, visiting the Missionaries of Charity in Chicago.
Where do you like to go to pray?
To a deserted place that offers solitude, silence, and intimacy with the Lord (closer to the Tabernacle the better). The St. John Paul II house chapel was great for that, as is the small chapel behind the altar at the seminary. At times when the light shines through a particular stained glass window, the Lord (in the Tabernacle), the fiery heart of Jesus (from the window), and the giant crucifix in the seminary chapel are all in the same place suspended in time and silence. It is “holy ground.”
Where do you do your best studying?
The “deserted place” above.
Which saint should people ask to intercede for your vocation?
Our Lady Mother of the Word Incarnate; St. Augustine; St. Mother Teresa; St. Therese; St. John the Beloved; St. Anthony of the Desert; St. John Paul II; Bl. Pierre Giorgio Frassati (Confirmation saint).