Q: Describe your educational and professional background before entering formation.
A: I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley and a master’s in marriage and family therapy from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. Before seminary I was finishing my master’s degree and then worked in adult ministry for St. Louis Church in Louisville, Colo.
Q: What first interested you in the priesthood? When did you first feel called to the priesthood?
A: I was not raised Catholic, so I had never met a priest until my last semester of college. I became involved with FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) and began meeting some great priests, including many at the seminary where my best friend had just entered.
After studying Catholicism for about two years, I saw the truth of the faith and became Catholic in 2002. I was attending daily Mass several times a week. Often I would stay and pray after Mass. It was only a few weeks after I was confirmed and began receiving the Eucharist that I started feeling a call. That call began as quick thoughts and small interests such as, “I would like to preach on these readings” or “I would like to hear confessions.”
Q: What ultimately led you to enter the seminary?
A: In California, I had been meeting with a spiritual director who told me to try doing some “priestly things” and see how I felt. I taught Bible studies, catechism, and helped with youth retreats. I felt more alive during these times compared to anything else that I did. I loved sharing my faith in Christ with others! I loved seeing God move in the lives of others!
I moved back to Denver and eventually realized that my desire for priesthood was so strong that I had to give seminary a try. I knew I had to dive in and give it my all to see if God was really calling me. I felt like God was asking me, “What do you want to do?” And to my surprise and delight, I said, “I want to be a priest, your priest.”
Q: Where did you find support for your call to the priesthood?
A: My best friend had been in seminary for several years, so he was always supportive, but never pushy. I was living with some good Catholic men my age and they were supportive also. My spiritual director and friends were also supportive.
My family is not Catholic, and it did take them a little while to warm up to the idea of me being a priest, but they really are very supportive and I am so grateful for them.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the priesthood?
A: Proclaiming the goodness of God and the life that he offers each one of us to live in union with him! The Father has sent his Son and the Holy Spirit to bring us all back to himself because he loves us. I will be blessed to participate in this Divine Invitation most profoundly through saying holy Mass, hearing confessions, baptisms and anointing.
I am also looking forward to helping couples prepare for marriage and working with parents to make every family as strong and healthy as possible. (This is what I was training to do before I entered seminary).
Q: What do you find most daunting about the priesthood?
A: Honesty, lately I have been dreading our overall culture. I was looking through a Newsweek a couple of days ago and it reminded me of how absolutely opposed to Christianity our media and education culture is. It is a formidable task to speak light in the midst of so many and constant voices speaking darkness.
But Christ is not afraid or intimidated and we should not be either. I heard and responded to the Gospel in the midst of a secular college campus, God’s grace is everywhere.
Q: What is your favorite pastime?
A: I like hanging out with my friends, reading, playing guitar and listening to music. To name a few.
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: All through high school I played lead electric guitar in a heavy metal band. So I do bring a certain musical quality to my seminary community. I have since learned how to play praise and worship and led the Vigil Praise band for three years.
I also try to use my counseling degree and usually lead a group of seminarians each semester who are interested in learning more about counseling resources.
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: As I mentioned, our overall secular culture would be the last place I would look to for advice on sexuality or religion. Luckily, we have an alternative to our confusing culture. The magisterium of the Church who guards and teaches all that Christ revealed to the world through the Apostles. This is a great plan of love.
The purpose of being male or female is to make a total gift of oneself. This normally happens in matrimony. But Christ showed us that we can make a total gift of ourselves through celibacy as well. Celibacy is not an end in itself, it is a means of union with God.
We imitate Christ, who lived in constant communion with the Father. Christ’s celibacy was fruitful and life-giving; the Church was given birth through his offering of self.
As a priest, we participate in Christ’s priesthood. Through the sacraments, He sustains his bride, the Church, and in every generation draws a people to himself.
If you have ever been baptized, received Communion, confession, or any other sacrament, you have received a portion of this fruitful and life-giving power of the priesthood.
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?
A: Yes, this happens somewhat regularly, which is a great opportunity to share what God has done in my life. But I want to remind all the lay people that they have a special privilege of not being noticed so quickly, which allows them to be in all kinds of circumstances where they can share about God.
You can share about Christ and be heard in a way that sometimes someone in a collar cannot be heard.
You can be like angels, being right next to someone and speaking light into their lives.
Yes, I think as a priest or deacon we have a lot of opportunities to talk with people about God (and I am looking forward to that), but I was not brought to Christ through talking with a priest, it was through my two college roommates, my Christian friends, and eventually my Bible study. Be salt, be light!