When did you decide to pursue the priesthood?
When I read this question I thought “when did I begin to listen to the Holy Spirit calling me to this?” I believe we all have a calling from God from the time of our baptism. Even before we were born God knew us and knew what he would call us to, as the book of Jeremiah beautifully says: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you.”
I had a sense of this call from God when I was very young and that remained with me throughout my childhood. There were times when I ignored that voice of the Lord, mostly because I thought I could find or make my own fulfillment in life, which was at odds with what God was calling me to. However, the Lord knows us better than we know ourselves and it is only in him that we truly find our true sense of self. It was towards the end of college that I knew I couldn’t ignore him anymore, and really, did not want to ignore him anymore and started acting according to his inspiration.
Were you inspired by any particular priest or religious person in your life?
There wasn’t any one particular priest, but there were different priests at various different times in life whose example the Holy Spirit used to lead me towards priesthood. I really think the Lord worked through my family and their example of living a holy life, teaching me to pray and their example of love, which I was exposed to from an early age, and that created that environment for the Holy Spirit to work.
It’s the Jubilee Year of Mercy – why is it especially significant to be ordained during a Holy Year?
Because I can be especially cleansed of my sins going into ordination. 🙂 I think this year is a reminder of the truth of God’s mercy and indicates where and how the Holy Spirit is leading the Church through the Pope. In scripture, both Peter and Paul sinned terribly against the Lord, and both were forgiven, and this mercy they received formed them in their preaching of the Gospel. We all look to their example, and for me I look to their example as one going into ordained ministry to know the mercy of God in my own life and allowing that inform my preaching of the Gospel.
What aspect of ministry are you most looking forward to?
I am being ordained as a deacon for this coming year, before priesthood ordination, so in the immediate time I am looking forward to that ministry. I heard a great description of the deacon as one who has one foot in the liturgy and one foot out on the peripheries, to use one of the Pope’s terms. He is configured to Christ the servant and takes the bishop’s ministry of charity out to those peripheries and the marginalized, but he is also up at the altar at Mass—he helps connect the two. So, I think of really absorbing this ministry as a deacon in preparation for ordination to the priesthood next year.
What is it like to be ordained during the “Francis era” – has Pope Francis impacted your formation or how you think you will operate as a priest?
I think it is his example that sets the tone for all Christians. The way he lives his life in humility and defending the rights of the poor sets the tone for where the Holy Spirit is leading the Church in this particular time and place. It is really the example of Christ himself, and this is a reminder for me in my particular vocation to live out this example of Christ as a deacon, then a priest.