Q: Describe your educational and professional background before entering formation.
A: After graduating from J.K. Mullen High School in Denver in 2000, I went to the University of Colorado-Boulder to study business. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in business-accounting in 2004, after which I joined the seminary.
Q: What first interested you in the priesthood?
A: I had never thought about the priesthood until I was a junior in college when I got involved with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) at the University of Colorado. Several men in my Bible study were discerning their vocation, asking what God desired them to do, particularly if he wanted them to be a priest.
I initially did not want to be priest but I thought to myself: Well, I should be open to it if that is what the Lord wants me to do. He knows me and has created me for a purpose so I should probably ask him what he wants.
So, for several months I brought that question to the Lord every day, and interestingly, it wasn’t until after hearing the call to the seminary that my heart began to desire to be a priest.
Q: When did you first feel called to the priesthood?
A: During Holy Week of my junior year, the Lord gave me a tremendous amount of peace in prayer about going to the seminary. When I prayed the simple prayer, “Lord, I don’t care, I will do whatever you want me to do, just let me be close to you,” it was clear that the Lord wanted me to go to the seminary.
At the time, I was not sure if he wanted me to be a priest but it was enough to get me in the seminary. It was as if he was telling me to “come and see” as he told Andrew and John (Jn 1: 39).
Q: Where did you find support for your call to the priesthood?
A: I learned quickly that it is difficult to live a holy life on one’s own. But by being involved in FOCUS and campus ministry at CU, I made several friends who supported me and challenged me to follow Christ more closely, most especially by their witness and their prayers. My family was a profound source of support and encouragement as well.
Upon entering the seminary, I found that my seminarian brothers, especially the Companions of Christ (fraternity), have been a tremendous blessing in seeking after Christ. But most important, the support for my call came from Christ himself in daily prayer, Mass, and frequent confession as well as Mary who constantly brought me closer to him through the rosary.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the priesthood?
A: I am greatly looking forward to preaching and hearing confessions because they both have tremendous power to open hearts to God working in people’s lives. And yet they are also the two which I find the most daunting.
Q: What has been your favorite class or aspect of seminary life?
A: My favorite aspect of seminary life is the Spirituality Year, the first year in seminary when we have a privileged time to spend in prayer and fraternity. It is a time to go deeply into our hearts with the healing and transforming power of Christ and an opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of brothers. For when Christ calls us to himself, he calls us into a brotherhood.
Q: What is your favorite pastime?
A: I really enjoy anything outdoors: hiking, backpacking, skiing, playing sports. Getting in touch with the natural world always stirs in me a childlike wonder.
Q: Is there a particular talent or gift you feel you bring to the seminary community and, eventually, to the Church as a whole?
A: I hope that my desire to be honest and authentic with my brothers at the seminary has helped them in growing in the freedom to be themselves. It is dumbfounding how each of us is so unique, and the mystery of our own profound uniqueness in Christ is the greatest blessing we can give the world.
Q: In today’s world, a call to celibacy is seen as radical, if not impossible. How have you reconciled the priesthood’s call to celibacy with this challenging cultural perspective?
A: Honestly, I can’t think of anything more appropriate in my response to God’s call in my life. I want to give God everything, to be totally consecrated to him, because he has given everything of himself for me and to me and held nothing back.
Q: If you have been on mission (or itinerancy) as part of your formation thus far, share where you went and what you learned from that experience.
A: Just this past summer, I spent some time with the Missionaries of Charity in Washington, D.C. It was a great blessing for me to pray and work with them, especially as I prepared for diaconate ordination.
Learning how to love and serve the poor was a joy as I worked in their house of AIDS patients and the mentally ill. But also, having the opportunity to witness in the sisters what it means to be totally consecrated to the Lord was an incredible grace.
Q: Can you recall a particular moment when you have been called to give testimony to your faith, or more particularly, to your vocation to the priesthood? For example, perhaps someone’s recognition of your seminarian status has led to a conversation about the Catholic faith?
A: I just went to my 10-year high school reunion this past summer. I really enjoyed the time I spent with so many people that I had not kept in touch with over the last several years.
But it was a great opportunity to talk about God’s work in my life since I had last seen them, and hopefully, it was a chance for others to grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord.
I know I was edified by others’ testimonies of how they are trying to live their faith, especially since many have gotten married and are trying to teach their children about Christ.
Q: How do you feel about this significant step, being ordained to the diaconate, in your formation?
A: What a gift! I am astounded. Pray for me.