“Our Lady had indeed shown me my path to holiness.”
Growing up in a faithful Catholic family, learning the Rosary from my parents and even praying it daily as a teenager, I was given the grace quite young to realize how much we are all indebted to God. Thanks to the encouragement of family and friends to consider a vocation, the inspiration of certain Scripture passages, and the examples of various priests, to me the priesthood always seemed to be a sure path to holiness.
During my college years, my faith in the Eucharist grew as I frequently attended daily Mass. In my senior year, I really only considered two options for my future: graduate school in chemistry (a wide open path), or pursuit of a priestly vocation.
The Holy Spirit convicted me, with time, that I had to consider the diocesan priesthood. It was not that I knew I was supposed to be a priest and therefore that I needed to go to seminary. I knew I needed to go to seminary simply because I thought I might be called to the priesthood.
I can only credit my application and acceptance to seminary to an invitation for a summer job extended by my diocese, and to the hidden work of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. To all men who may be discerning a priestly vocation, I will repeat what countless others have said: stay close to our Blessed Mother. I am convinced she inspired me to accept the possibility that I might be called to the priesthood and to make the decision to go to seminary.
It was during my years of seminary formation that I became certain that God was indeed calling me to the priesthood. Second thoughts about graduate school or religious life never troubled me, nor was I conflicted about the call to celibacy as a prerequisite for ordination. What caused me to hesitate about my vocation was my growing awareness of the great responsibilities of the priesthood.
The fear of “the unknown” that could await a person in his vocation can, at times, be overwhelming. The insistence, however, that God’s grace would be sufficient was clear enough in the message of my seminary formators and in Sacred Scripture. For each scenario that I could imagine as a reason why the priesthood might not be for me, my rationale ended up being that I didn’t know if I could sacrifice enough, if I could be humble enough or holy enough.
Answering that question became easier as it became more difficult to come up with excuses. How do you respond if you’re asked whether you want be holy? Thus, in the matter of my preparedness for the priesthood, I began to defer to the judgment of the seminary, and to the intercession of Mary.
The Blessed Virgin’s presence in my life had grown since my personal consecration to her, which I had made in my first year of seminary. By this point, the Blessed Mother and the Church had become so united in my understanding that I could not say “no” to one, without saying “no” to the other. If the bishop was the Church’s true representative in his desire to have me as a priest, then I figured that Our Lady had indeed shown me my path to holiness. I was ordained on May 30, 2009.
Fr. Timothy recently began his second year as parochial vicar at two parishes and as chaplain and part-time teacher at a small Catholic high school. He continues to be amused by the fact that his students are more impressed by his juggling skills than by his two masters degrees in theology or his knowledge of biblical Greek.