I can vividly remember when the Lord spoke to my heart. It was nearly six years ago as I sat in the chapel at St. Mary’s. Enveloped in the silence, the words “feed my sheep” were placed on my heart. These words were the last thing I wanted to hear as a young man obsessed with the world. I assumed I had nearly everything figured out at that time and was actively pursuing goals that I hoped would bring me the happiness I desperately sought in life. The Lord obviously had other plans but out of my own selfish desires I chose to run in the opposite direction for several years. I can honestly say I did fairly good job of running but in reality how can anyone run from a God who is all knowing and
all loving? Even through all the ups and downs, the sin and shame, the Lord was still there in my life gently asking me to follow Him and take this step. For me this was a step that seemed impossible and unbearable. As I now look back on that time, the words of Christ in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 11:28-30-RSV Catholic Edition) come to mind. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I owe a great deal of gratitude to the campus ministry at St. Mary’s for helping me to grow in my faith and in turn further illuminating the path the Lord put in front of me. Even though I am not a graduate of SFA, the ministry and parishioners of St. Mary’s warmly welcomed me and were very influential in giving me the needed encouragement to further discern my vocation at the seminary. Both Father Paul and Father Rowland provided great examples of holy priests who truly cared about the souls of those entrusted to them. They encouraged and challenged me to be open to what the Lord was asking me to do even when it looked intimidating and overwhelming. By participating in various ministries such as the College Men’s Bible Study, the Knights of Columbus, and Theology on the Rocks, I was able to more clearly see what brought joy to my life. In turn, as my faith grew I found much peace in prayer and more frequently received the grace poured out in the Sacraments. My heart began to burn more deeply for being with the Lord and spending time with Him before the Blessed Sacrament. Ultimately, I found that true happiness only exists when we follow God. Even if that means we can’t see what lies ahead of us. St. Augustine said it best in his Confessions. “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”
Once again, I can’t begin to express my gratitude in these short paragraphs but please know that St. Mary’s Campus Ministry and all those involved in the great work there are in my prayers. Please pray for priests, seminarians, and everyone discerning their vocation so that we may all fully live our lives in accordance with God’s plan.