“Without question, I have spent more time helping Carla than any other person during my priesthood,” says Fr. Joe Hirsch, a priest from Wisconsin.
“I remember the first time I saw her. I was working as a high school chaplain, and saw a timid 14-year-old girl nearly hiding in her locker. She was so shy that when I said hello, she couldn’t even respond. Right away, I knew I was called to help her.”
It took weeks before they could even have a conversation more than a few sentences long. But over time, Fr. Hirsch was able to coax Carla out of her shell and overcome many of her fears. He kept up with her through college and young adulthood. She learned Spanish, and in a huge leap of faith for her, went on a mission trip to South America.
“While serving the poor, she found her vocation to the religious life,” says Fr. Hirsch. “I traveled to Peru to attend her final vows. Here was this painfully shy girl who had grown into a confident woman. She was thousands of miles from home, making vows in a foreign language. When she sang a solo in front of a church full of 500 people, I was astonished. I could have never foreseen God’s plan for her.”
God does not call the equipped. He equips those he calls. God did not transform Carla into bubbly extrovert. Even today, she is a quiet person. But through God’s grace and hard work, she learned to push the boundaries of her comfort zone and discover her vocation.
Men who consider priesthood face many fears. Many are afraid of celibacy, afraid of public speaking, afraid of being lonely. They cannot imagine themselves worthy of priesthood, or functioning as effective priests.
But the truth is that God is far more powerful than our fears. The creator of the universe, who holds all existence in the palm of his hand, can equip anyone he calls to be a holy, faithful priest. Just look at the first apostles!
No man who enters seminary is ready to become a priest—and that is precisely why he is going to seminary. With prayer and good spiritual direction, you can overcome weaknesses and discover strengths you thought you’d never have. Don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.