Introductions: CptReligion

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

+ JMJ

Greetings, all!

I am a young Roman Catholic and a freshly-minted seminarian for my diocese. That’s the short form. Here’s the longer one:

I first had some notion that I was called to the priesthood when I was a sophomore in high school. I was 13 yrs. old, I believe. The high school I attended is known as the Bishop’s School and is located adjacent to our Cathedral Basilica. The school provides all the servers for our bishop (known as pontifical servers). The first Mass I served for our bishop was the Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. It was during that Mass I had my first inkling that I might be called to serve the Church in this way.

But I pushed the notion out of my mind before I could consider it. Yes, I was a devout and traditional Catholic, but I didn’t want to be a priest! But the idea returned. And with each dismissal, it returned quicker and stayed longer. I was entertaining the thought, but I still refused to consider it.

Junior year arrives and the concept of entering the priesthood is a frequent object of my thoughts. Towards the end of that year, I was appointed head pontifical server. The first Mass I served in that capacity was an ordination. The priest ordained became the Asst. Director of Seminarians and the Bishop’s M.C.

Anyways, my Senior year arrives and I’m serving Masses for our bishop on a weekly basis (sometimes more). That pesky calling was more persistent than ever, but I had become adept at ignoring it. But God wasn’t quick to give up on me. People began suggesting to me that I become a priest. Among them were teachers, friends, family, seminarians, and others I hardly knew. My defenses began to crumble.

Holy Week came and I was assisting with the M.C. duties for the Masses. So, I was standing in the sacristy at 9AM, an hour before Mass, on Palm Sunday, waiting for the M.C. I heard, “Good morning, Ryan,” turned around, and greeted the bishop as he shook my hand. This shouldn’t have been anything unusual for me; I’d spoken to him every week. But I knew what he was about to say before he said it. “Where are you going to school next year?” “The University of Louisville.” “Why?” I had no reason, only an excuse. I stammered that they gave me a full scholarship. The bishop grinned and I braced myself for what I knew he would say. “We’d give you a full scholarship to the seminary, you know.” I sighed and looked at the floor, not knowing what to say. I weakly shook my head and hoped that he would leave it at that. The bishop chuckled and said, “Consider it. You’d make a good priest.” I managed a faint, “Yes, sir.”

So my defenses were not only breached but burned to the ground. And I had obligated myself to consider this. I was scared to even think about it! How could God call me to something so frightening? Well, a few days later, it was Good Friday and I was serving. A few other servers and I held the Cross as Churchgoers processed forward with tears in their eyes to reverence it. I looked down at the Crucifix in my hands and thought of Him. He had been afraid, too. But He had been obedient to the end. And His Sacrifice was so infinitely more than I could ever give! How could I think myself justified in holding back from God when He had given His Whole Self for me on that Cross? I knew what I had to do and I resolved to do it.

I did little but consider my vocation for the next day, until I found myself serving the Easter Vigil. Beautiful and glorious, as always! Anyways, I returned home that night and read some vocations information on the Internet. I had a lot of questions. I knew whom to ask: that priest whose ordination I served; we worked together at the Cathedral and had become friends. So I typed up a brief email to him with my questions. Then I stared at the Send button. Did I want to get myself in this deep? Would he just think I’m crazy: emailing him in the middle of the night out of the blue? I took a breath, sent the message, and entrusted the outcome to the Lord.

A few days later, I was sitting in that priest’s office as he commended me for taking this first step. Lord, what have I gotten myself into?! After that meeting my mind was considerably decided. Yet it was already May, much too late to change schools by the Fall. So I went on to Louisville. After all, it didn’t cost me anything and I would have some time to think some more on this.

Louisville was the first non-Catholic school I had attended. Suffice it to say that I was appalled. The selfishness of these people, manifested in almost every sin imaginable! I confronted this secular world and rejected it. I knew without a doubt that God was calling me to serve His Church. I sent off an email to that priest again and he put me into contact with our Vocations Director. Before I knew it, there was a twenty page application sitting on my desk. I set to work. I had to track down my Baptism/Confirmation certificate, several letters of recommendation, write a lengthy autobiography, apply to the university, and take a several hour psychological exam (the verdict was that I am “stable” and “benign”: always good news!).

And then I was sitting before my bishop. He talked about the university where I was being sent: the Franciscan University of Steubenville, for my Pre-Theology. He was an alumnus of the school. He reassured me that, “You’ll be a good priest.” I was officially a seminarian!

And that brings me to this point. I start at Franciscan in August, majoring in Theology (minors in Philosophy and Human Life Studies). Couldn’t be happier or more excited! On the weekends, during the school year, I’ll be working at a parish in Steubenville, where my bishop was formerly the pastor.

So that’s my story, so far. I hope that I addressed the important points adequately. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I'm looking forward to working on this blog. Pray for me as I pray for you!

In Domino,

Ryan (CptReligion)

Update: As of July 2008, Ryan is no longer a member of Holy Vocations Blog.

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