Joseph Ryan

I came from a typical Catholic family—Sunday Mass, grace before meals—nothing exceptional, but God was certainly a part of my life growing-up. After enrolling at Seton Catholic Central from public school in eighth grade, I began to grow in my faith and see the Church as something more than just a place to go on Sundays. But the idea of priesthood never really entered my mind; I knew what I was going to do with my life: law and politics. I had a plan and wanted to change the world, so God’s plan was not much of a factor in my decision when applying for college at Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

When I arrived on campus in August 2017, I had no idea I would be leaving my new home not in four years, but in one. Things were going according to my plan—great classes, new friends, an internship on Capitol Hill—but God had other things in mind. It was at the Mass of the Holy Spirit where I first felt a restlessness and uncertainty in my heart about the plan I had made for myself. Not knowing what this feeling was, and with an enkindled sense of faith, I brought this unease to prayer. I reflected during Holy Hours and masses on why I wanted to study law and enter politics and concluded that it was my strong desire to change the world for the better and make a life better for those around me. Then it hit me that there could be no more meaningful gift than to bring the grace of God into someone’s life in the Sacraments. Particularly, that there could be no greater change in the world than to bring Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity into our midst in the Eucharist. Over the next few months, I reflected on Scripture and spoke to friends and priests about my discernment, trying to find what the Lord was asking of me.

It was at this point that a priest told me that I should consider applying to the seminary, even if I was not certain of where the Lord was calling me. Being told that the seminary is the best place to discern, I began serious consideration of applying. I realized that I must not be perfect to enter, but rather I must be open to becoming perfect, to allowing the Lord to work on me and make me into the man I was called to be, living out whichever vocation He might will for me. With this pressure removed, and my excitement for the possibility of studying in the seminary growing, I applied and was accepted by the Diocese for the college seminary at Douglaston, New York—Cathedral Seminary House of Formation. A year and a half into my formation, my discernment of my vocation has led me to a deeper faith, a fuller understanding of the priesthood, and a greater confidence in the path I am on. I thank God for the graces I have received in my life and for the many blessings that have brought me to where I am today; I continue to pray for an increase in answered vocations in the Diocese of Syracuse, that more young men who are called by God to the priesthood might grow in faith and humility so as to be able to answer the Lord’s Call