School: Notre Dame Seminary
2901 S. Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118
I am the youngest of eight children and grew up in Monroe Georgia in a family with a mixed religious background. My mother was an Evangelical Protestant and my father was a Messianic Jew. So growing up I had an exposure to both religious traditions and oftentimes attending messianic synagogue services on Saturday and Sunday morning church services as a child. My mother home schooled all eight of my siblings and I through all twelve years of school. Our neighbors who were like our adopted grandparents slowly introduced us to the Catholic faith and through their influence and prayers myself, three of my sisters, my mother, and one of my nieces and one nephew came into the church in 2011. My home parish is St. Anna’s in Monroe where I was baptized, confirmed, and received my first holy communion.
What are your hobbies and interests?
My hobbies and interests are varied. I enjoy sports, although I am not good at many of them. My favorite sports are baseball and soccer. I also enjoy writing which I took up when I was around seventeen. I write mainly short stories and some poetry when the mood strikes me. I am interested in painting and I am working on honing that skill. It is something I enjoy doing when I can find the time. At the seminary there are many landscapes that I would like to attempt to paint once I get my courage up to do it. I also enjoy reading and hiking.
What is one your favorite scriptures?
My Favorite scripture is John 14: 1-4 (NABRE)
“‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way.’”
Who is your favorite saint and why?
It has always been hard for me to pick a favorite saint but I suppose if I had to pick just one I would say Saint Mary Magdalene. She is someone who has always been there as someone whose intercession I can depend on and has helped me through several trials in my past. I also look up to her heartfelt devotion and constancy towards the Lord even in his darkest moments as she stood at the foot of the cross with The Blessed Mother and St. John.
In a nutshell, what is your vocation story? How did you feel called to the priesthood?
My vocation story in a nutshell is a series of small nudges leading me ultimately to Seminary. There were several examples of pastoral ministry from the protestant churches I grew up in and once coming into the Catholic Church I met several good priests. The examples of these men inspired me and in prayer the desire to serve the Lord began to stir. It intensified over time and as I got older and started to go to Eucharistic adoration daily after graduating high school, and seeking the guidance of a spiritual director, I was able to recognize that God was calling me to discern the priesthood.
What is seminary life like for you?
For me seminary life is a joy. There are of course the struggles of the day to day classwork and what not. Moments where you walk out of philosophy class more confused than when you walked in. At the same time though, and this could just be because I am a bit of a nerd, but I love the classes! The things we get to learn and talk about is incredible and sometimes literally mind blowing. To quote our academic dean, the professors routinely “drop nuclear bombs of truth” and it’s awesome! The community life of seminary is in my experience the greatest blessing of all. There’s just something about it that is hard to exactly put into words but it is a blessing. To round it all out there is also the constant grounding element of the liturgy of the hours prayed in common which is a great grace. There may be a day that I am struggling with different things, whether its classes, struggles with the spiritual life, etc. No matter what it is there is this constant grounding of the day in God that helps bring things back into focus.
What do you look forward to about being a priest?
I think the thing I look forward to most about being a priest is being a shepherd. I know that may sound vague or perhaps even a bit corny but it’s true. I look forward to the actual lived experience of being a shepherd walking with people in moments of joy and sadness, celebration and grief. Being an instrument in the Lord’s hand to bring to them and be for them whatever they need in that moment.
What advice do you have for other guys thinking about the priesthood?
Don’t be afraid to say yes to God. If you think God may be calling you, visit the seminary, talk with a priest, and talk to the vocations director. Follow the will of God for your life, it may not always be easy and it may sometimes take you out of your comfort zone, but I can tell you that it will always be worth it.