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Priest Life, Part 1: The Challenge

Collin preaches his first “homily” at Frontier Town Chapel in Ocean City in 2013. (Courtesy Robyn Barberry)

When he was four-years-old, my now 12-year-old son Collin delivered his first homily in the Frontier Town Chapel in Ocean City. We were unsure of what he was saying, but the sentiment was in his every word. Clearly, he was paying attention during Mass. Collin attends St. Joan of Arc School in Aberdeen where religion is one of his favorite subjects. He is also a dedicated altar server at our parish (also St. Joan of Arc).

Collin has told me numerous times that he would be interested in being a priest. I have no doubt that he would make an excellent one. But, recently he said that he wasn’t sure that the priesthood was right for him because he was afraid he’d have to give up on his hobbies, like filmmaking.

Around the same time, three of the Archbishop Curley sophomores I teach were discussing how one of them, Joe B., was interested in becoming a priest. Joe is very involved at his parish, St. Mary Magdalen in Bel Air, and is an outstanding student with a level of humble sophistication seldom seen in such a young person. Other students look up to Joe because idealizes the Franciscan values that are so central to our school. He, too, would be the perfect candidate for the priesthood and he, too, mentioned in that conversation with his classmates that he was worried he’d never have time for the things he likes to do for fun, like video games.

Collin preaches another “homily” in 2021 at Frontier Town Chapel in Ocean City. (Courtesy Robyn Barberry)

Both of these young men got me thinking. Perhaps their uncertainty about the priesthood was due to a lack of knowledge about how priests spend their time. Other than administering sacraments and presiding over Sunday Mass, what is life like for priests? I decided to ask some of the priests (and one seminarian) I know why they became priests, how they became priests, and what their day-to-day lives are like. I set out on this mission in the hope that more young men like Collin (in middle school) and Joe (in high school) would consider pursuing vocations if they knew more about how priests wound up on the altar and what they do when they step down from it.

In the following series, I will introduce priests (and one seminarian) and share their journeys and their passions. I will discuss “The Call,” “The Journey,” and “The Life” for each of these men. You will find that many of their experiences are alike, but their missions are unique. God gave all of them gifts and sharing them is an important part of serving the Lord. The most important thing I want readers to learn is that priests never lose their sense of individuality. It’s something young people may worry about, but in telling these stories, I hope they recognize that priests are people, too.

I dedicate this series to Collin, Joe, and the wonderful men who willingly shared their story with me.  Join me next time when I discuss “The Call.”

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