Introductions: LandOLakesJesuit

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ,

I am a nearly 21-yr-old college junior at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, majoring in Philosophy and Catholic Studies, with a Biology minor. I am currently 70% certain that I am called to the priesthood, and 70% certain that I am called to a religious order, instead of the diocesan priesthood. If I had to make a decision today, I would join the Wisconsin Province Jesuits.

This was not always the case, however. When I started at St. Thomas, I was a Biology major and wanted to be a doctor, and I got good grades in the classes I was taking. In fact, I even got a job doing part-time research for the Biology Department, funded by a grant given by UST. However, something just felt so wrong about the biology department. I would get stressed out from Biology lectures, and some days would just come back to my dorm room and cry. I felt so out of place in that department, and didn't have any true friends in that department.

Then, spring semester of my freshman year, I met some seminarians from St. John Vianney Seminary, and that was the tipping point for me. I was very easily able to relate to these fine young men, who were mature and competent young adults, like myself. Like me, they had a strong faith in God, but they had something I didn't have: a strong prayer life. So, moved by this experience, I asked my newfound friends if they would help teach me some of the prayers that they learned at SJV. Before long, I had a spiritual director, and was praying the Rosary weekly, Liturgy of the Hours daily, as well as memorizing the Salve Regina, Tantum Ergo Sacramentum, and other prayers in Latin. It was about that time, too, that I felt the call from God, in the sacraments, through my new friends at SJV and the Catholic Men's House, through nature, basically everywhere I went. I had thought on and off about the priesthood since ninth grade, but not until then had it been a serious possibility in my mind.

I have been meeting with my spiritual director now for about a year, and I have grown so much in my prayer life, and understanding. I feel called by God in two directions: towards the priesthood, and towards academics. I'm not sure what that means yet, but I've got time to figure things out, all in God's time, of course.

This call from God resulted in significant changes of course with regard to my studies, and I switched from a Biology major, to a Biology and Philosophy major, and, now that I have found a job outside the Biology Department, working at the library on north campus here at UST, I finally made the transition to a Catholic Studies and Philosophy major and Biology minor. When I made the switch, it was like a burden was lifted off of my soldiers, and I had finally found the place where I belonged on campus. I only regret not starting off as a Philosophy and Catholic Studies major, as then I could have studied in Rome for a semester, but God has His reasons for the way things turn out in life.

Anyways, now, at last, I no longer have to hide behind the mask that I wore every day in Biology class. I just knew in my heart that this was not where I belong, and , thanks to my dear friends, the SJV seminarians, I am finally home. This fall, I will finish my final science classes, and then the fun begins, with the remainder of my classes being Catholic Studies and Philosophy classes. In other words, I'm a non-SJV guy in name only, since I'm discerning a religious vocation, and taking almost all the same courses that they are.

Seminarian Matthew, I hope I will have the privilege of meeting you this fall at a Thursday Night mass at SJV. You seem like a good man, strong in your faith, and willing to stand up for your beliefs.


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