School: Catholic Center at UGA
1344 S. Lumpkin Street
Athens, GA 30605
I am proud to proclaim that I was born and raised in Norcross, GA…the son of a Georgia Tech grad (my father- George) and a UGA grad (my mother – Anne). Like my ole man, I root for the team in White and Gold. I grew up playing sports and going to football games with Dad. I have an older brother named Carey and a younger sister named Hope. It never occurred to me that my family was overly devout, but we did go to mass together every weekend. It’s amazing how much grace a small amount of Faith has brought into my life and into my family. There are many analogies, I think, between Faith and sports. In the world of sports, if you commit to the basics (i.e. getting your glove down in baseball, protecting the ball in football) you can go far and build. Likewise, in the Faith, if you commit your life to Christ through the basics (weekend Mass as a family) the Lord will fill your life with a stream of grace.
What are your hobbies and interests?
As I mentioned earlier, sports were always a big part of my childhood. I grew up playing football, baseball, and basketball. In High School I ran cross-country, track, and I wrestled for Norcross High. I still enjoy watching sports when I can – especially college football. I enjoy the outdoors, camping, backpacking, hunting.
What is one of your favorite scriptures?
One of my favorite passages is Matthew 14: 22-33, the passage where Peter walks on water. This passage is one of many examples of the saving power of Christ (“immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him.”). While Christ ultimately saves us, there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves, this passage at the same time reminds me that I must do my part by trusting in Christ. Too often I relate to Peter when he starts to doubt and sink. This passage reminds me to trust in Jesus, especially when life gets choppy, windy, and rough. I’ve found that when I trust Jesus, regardless of the external chaos, I have internal peace (“the wind died down”). Finally, I love this passage because it is a challenging invitation to leave the comforts of our safe, secure boat, and to follow Christ.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
If I had to the opportunity to interview one of the saints and ask him/her about their encounter with Jesus – whether St. Peter the Apostle, or St. Paul who brought the Faith to the gentiles – I would choose Mary, the Mother of God, the Queen of Saints, and the Queen of Martyrs. Reason being is simple, I am convinced She knows Jesus the Christ better than anyone else in all of history. In addition to our Blessed Mother, I hold a strong devotion for St. John Paul II who lived during my lifetime and likewise held a special devotion to Mary (His papal motto was “Totus Tuus,” which means “Totally Yours,” Mary).
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
My vocation story, like every other vocation story, is a call, a “gift” from from the Holy Spirit…which is unique and personal to me (for Jesus calls everyone by name). From a young age, my vocation to the priesthood was nurtured through the love and faith in Christ Jesus that I received from my family. Additionally, I always felt a deep sense or call to service, which was instilled through my parents’ care for the poor in our community. My call to service first led me into the military, where I spent five years as an Infantry Officer. My experiences in the army – from Ranger School to Afghanistan – challenged my “cradle” Catholic faith, but it was ultimately this real faith in Christ that helped me get through the daily grind. Through these experiences, Christ confirmed my vocation and has now led me to seminary.
What is seminary life like for you?
Seminary life is great. I enjoy the community aspect and fraternity with all my seminarian brothers. We attend Mass together every day, and we pray together in the mornings and evenings. A lot of us get together after class for pick-up games of basketball in the gym, which is fun. Seminary is never “boring,” there’s always prayer, sports, studies, activities, etc something going on.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
The ability to bring Christ to other people, and bring other people to Christ. This is the main mission of a priest – right now I’m “in training.” It will be a joyful day when I get “commissioned,” and sent out to proclaim the Gospel, and Baptize people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Going back to the Gospel passage from Matthew 14, Jesus reminds us all “Do not not afraid!” We are constantly reminded throughout all of Scripture not be afraid. For anyone thinking about the priesthood, my biggest piece of advice is to not fear. If Christ is calling you, than what is there to be worried or afraid of? The Lord of the Universe, of all of History, the King of Kings, Your Creator, Redeemer, and Father will give you all the grace you need.