I posted this three part article in the bulletin here it is in one post!
My Journey to the Priesthood (Part 1)
With my ordination a short two weeks away! I want to share with you how I came to discover God’s call to the priesthood in my own life. I’ve shared some of this before, but I would like to put it all together in one article, including my time before seminary and during seminary. The story is to involved to include in one article so I will split it over the next week or two.
I believe all vocations start with a relationship with the Lord, so part of my growing in relationship with God led to my discovering that God was calling me to be a priest. I grew up Catholic and would go to Mass every week, but I did it because my parents required me to go. It wasn’t until high school that I began discovering my faith. For me, the big difference in my relationship with the lord came from a few things, first my involvement at St. Aloysius especially in their youth group. Secondly later in high school, I began attending daily mass every week. Wednesday Morning I would go to Mass and have breakfast after at a local coffee shop. This practice would continue into college when I would attend mass 3 to 4 times a week. One last influence that helped me stay involved in my faith was the Diocesan Youth Board or DYB. We would put on youth conferences throughout the year, the local world youth day, the Diocesan Youth Conference, and Junior High Youth Conference. My involvement in this group helped the faith become more and more a part of my life.
The priesthood wasn’t on my mind at all till I was a Junior in High School. Looking back there may have been some hints that God may call me to the priesthood before that time, but I didn’t realize it till later. Abbey Youth Fest helped me to hear God’s call to the priesthood for the first time in my life. While that initial call was sudden and very clear to me, my discernment of that call was slow and gradual. Being involved at St. Aloysius, being able to talk to a couple of priests and going to daily mass helped me to continue to discern that call.
I would say as a senior in high school my call was strong enough to consider entering the seminary. However, there was a stronger tug on my heart to get some experience in the outside world of the seminary. I could have entered seminary out of high school, but I think in God’s divine providence I went to LSU for two years before entering the seminary.
at LSU I got to make some good friends. A few of my friends I got to know there
actually would enter the seminary around the same time I did, and as remember
four of those guys if not more are priests today! Thanks to my Catholic friends
and involvement at Christ the King my faith grew stronger and in the midsts of
college, God called me to enter the seminary.
(Part 2 to follow)
My Journey to the Priesthood (Part 2)
I entered seminary in August of 2011 after finishing two years at LSU I decided it was time for me to test the waters of seminary formation. My relationship with God was strong enough and I had enough of a sense from God that he was calling me to at-least enter the seminary. I was fortunate to have enough credits transfer into St. Joseph Seminary College that I was able to finish in two years. My first two years at St. Bens, as most of us call it, focused heavily on my spiritual growth and growth as a man. I would spend my first summer in two places, Paintcourtville and belle rose with Fr. Andrew Merrick and then the second month in San Antonio Texas studying Spanish. I gained some Spanish from that summer, but as they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it. During that summer I had a powerful experience with Fr. Andrew. To make a long story short, we visited someone on their death bed, and after giving her last rites, she passed away moments after we left. Seeing the power of the priesthood in that experience deepened my call to the priesthood. There are a small handful of moments in ministry and in prayer that I can say led me to become a priest soon. Seeing the last rites in person and then seeing someone pass away moments after was part of that call from God.
I would next attend what is called the Institute for priesthood formation for a summer. This summer was a spiritually focused program in Omaha Nebraska. LSU made it to the college world series that year; it was a joy to see them in person in Omaha. While I was in Omaha I spent more time discerning my call and asking pointed questions about who I was and if I could become a priest. Again to make a long story short God showed to me while I was in Omaha that I was his beloved son who he died for and seeks to make me spotless and blameless before his sight. I would say this insight was important moment number two in terms of coming to discover the priesthood.
next attend Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and for the sake of space I
would like to jump forward to my first retreat and second retreat a Notre Dame.
Two weekends ago we heard Jesus ask Peter “do you love me?” Jesus in my own
prayer asked the same question. “Tim, do you love me?” I responded “yes lord
you know that I love you.” I believe at this moment things became very clear to
me that God was calling me to be a priest. I wouldn’t be able to say for sure
till about a year later, when our retreat master said if you are still not sure
you need to come to a decision soon. At that point we were a year and a half
from our Diaconate Ordination. Some guys may have still be back and forth about
their call but I realized, I knew God is calling me to be a priest. (Part 3 to follow)
My Journey to the Priesthood (Part 3)
It’s here! If you are reading this article after about noon on Saturday, May 25th I am no longer Deacon Tim I am now Fr. Tim! Continuing with my path to the priesthood I came to a point where I was no longer discerning the question is God calling me to be a priest. Now I was asking, “Now that I feel God’s call to the priesthood how can I best prepare myself for that call. My last few years in seminary were about preparing myself to become a priest.
The next stage of my formation was Clinical Pastoral Education, or I was a chaplain intern in a hospital for about nine weeks. I spent those weeks in Atlanta, Georgia at Emory Johns Creek. I had some powerful experiences in ministry helping out those who were sick and those close to death. I learned a lot from this summer, and God deepened my call to the priesthood doing the work of ministering to the ill and dying. However, something came up during that I felt God calling me to look at before moving on to becoming a Deacon. I didn’t understand it at the time but my anxiety was coming up, and I couldn’t move on without examining it more closely.
When I returned to the seminary after my summer in Atlanta with prayer and discernment, I decided to request to take what is called a pastoral year. I would step away from the seminary for about a year to return when my year finished. During this year I had the opportunity to examine myself and work with some professionals to help me understand why I had my anxiety and how to address it better. God blessed me abundantly during this year. During this year I also went through major surgery. I grew up with the condition of pectus excuvatum, and I had an operation to correct this problem.
After I recovered from the surgery, I returned to seminary for my last three semesters. I was ordained a Deacon in May of 2017 and was assigned for five months at St. Margaret Catholic Church in Albany Louisiana. It was a good experience, and it helped me prepare for the priesthood. Early in 2018, the Diocese asked me to take one additional year before I would be ordained a priest. I was disappointed I had to wait another year, but I’m glad I had the time to prepare myself to become a priest.
I graduated from Notre Dame about a year ago now, and in July I came to this parish! I thank all of you for the prayer and support you have shown me. God has done great things for me while I’ve been here and thanks to your help I feel ready to take on what God has in store for me as a priest. Please keep me in prayer as I keep you in prayer as I move forward to my next assignment.
One thought on “My Vocation Story”
Loved reading your blog today, Fr. Tim!!
Love, Mom ________________________________