Vocation Director's Story

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“As soon as I said that,

a hundred little signs all lit up

and started pointing in the same direction - toward the seminary.”


What did I say?

The prayer that changes lives:  “Jesus, every time I do things my way, it turns into a big fat mess.  So, let me know what You want, and I’ll do it.”

I’ve heard a lot of vocation stories over the years.  God calls people in thousands of unique ways, but every single one of those stories reaches the same turning point:  where the guy gets so fed up he throws his hands in the air and says “Jesus, tell me what you want and I’ll do it.”

And that’s what turns the corner.

First I did what other people told me to.  Then I did what I wanted.  Finally, I had the grace to ask Jesus what HE wanted.  And He has shown me the path of life (Psalm 16).

In high school, people told me I was good at science & math, so I should be an engineer.  I did that.  It was okay, but I wanted to make a more positive impact in the world.  Then I did what I wanted.  Started working in computer networking for the research labs at U.B.  That made an impact, but it was a high stress job at the bleeding edge of tech, with machines going down all the time.  I would go home at night with a tightness in my chest.  This was not good for my health.

So I sat on the couch in my apartment, threw up my hands, and prayed that prayer:  “Jesus, let me know what You want, and I’ll do it.”  Within days, signs began.  Over the next six months, clarity emerged.

What signs?  Locutions?  Shooting stars?

None of the above.  It was all ordinary subtle stuff:  books I read, things people said, insights during prayer.  I have an uncle who’s a Franciscan T.O.R. and when he came home for vacation I picked him up at the airport.  I noticed his priestly chasuble hanging out of his checked luggage, and I felt an immediate surge of joy.  I will wear something like that someday!

And then?  I met a girl.

A very devout, smart young woman, just starting her professional life.  We hung out, we went for hikes, we went to Mass together.  It was powerful.

But what about the prayer?

Yes, I had asked Jesus what He wanted and told Him I would do it.  That’s when I met the Vocation Director, and started going to Response Group meetings.  I cannot express how important that group was for me!  Through a lot of prayer and dialogue we figured it out.  I left the job, the apartment, and the girl (she's now happily married) and became a seminarian.  And eventually a priest, ordained in 2007.

Do you ever ask “what if?”

Nope.  Computers, engineering, dating, it was all great fun but it wasn’t my mission.  I can look back over my entire life and see how Jesus was molding me for priestly ministry.  Literally every event in my life - good and bad - makes sense in God’s plan for bringing me to the priesthood in Buffalo.

And that's how I went from here...

... to here

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