After attending ABVM and St. Katharine Drexel, I went to Archbishop Wood where I was a senior officer on student council, captain of the cross-country team, the Viking mascot, member of the ministry team, and an anchor in Wood’s TV Studio. I enjoy hanging out with my friends, going to the shore with my family over the summer and going to Phillies’ games (whether they are good or bad).
Because the Church has always been a big part of our family life, the thought of priesthood was always in my head. Even as a little kid I can remember “saying Mass” for my family. However, to me it was the same way a kid thinks about being an astronaut…it’s a great dream but it’s many years away and probably will never actually happen. Father Bill would, occasionally, mention things about “when I become a priest,” but I would just laugh it off. Father Mike asked me many times whether I ever considered the priesthood, and I would give him a polite “no.”
When my senior year rolled around, and I had to figure out what I was going to do with my life I finally started to open my heart to hear God. I led a Kairos retreat in October and heard God talking through many of my friends who told me that I would make a good priest. I attended the “Newly Ordained” Mass at the Cathedral in October, which was followed by a vocation talk. I then attended the “Come and See Weekend” and the Christmas concert at Saint Charles Seminary, and after spending a weekend there, I felt so at home that I knew that this is where God wanted me to be. After much research and discernment, I began to talk to Father Paul O’Donnell, the school minister at Archbishop Wood, and then my family, and Father Mike, and I decided to apply. After the long application process–including many personal forms, faith-based questions, a psychological exam, background checks, interviews including one with Archbishop Chaput, a written autobiography, and more–I found out on April 17th that I was officially accepted for the fall semester.
I have gotten a positive response to my decision so far. My parents and sisters have been very supportive and are even excited. I was impressed by the overwhelmingly positive response from my ABVM family. Luckily many of my friends are good Catholics, so they are also very happy and supportive of me. They made me promise that I would marry them and baptize their children. Typically, it is classmates I don’t know well and strangers who ask where I am going to college who give mixed responses–like “Why on earth would you want to do that?” or “Why don’t you want to have a family some day?” However, I expect these responses since clearly the priesthood isn’t the most sought-after career.
Although I will enter the seminary this August, I will be part of the class of 2027. Throughout my nine years of education and formation, I will learn about philosophy and theology and be formed humanly, spiritually, intellectually, and pastorally. There are many steps in that process, but the year before becoming a priest, I will be ordained as a transitional deacon and be assigned an internship in a parish. What I look forward to most is the environment of the seminary. Being in a community with men who all have the same spiritual desire as you definitely help you to grow in faith and better discern the call of God. I think one of the challenges will be the same thing…getting used to that environment. The seminary is a community like one that I have never experienced before, and I think it might be a challenge to get used to the schedule, rules, academics, etc.
As I close my first article for News from the Pews, I would to add the same thing that Pope Francis likes to add to everything that he does…”Pray for me.” I ask for your prayers as I continue to discern the call of God and begin the formation process. Pray for the other seminarians as well. Also pray for those young men who are called by God but don’t know it yet that they may open their hearts to answer God’s call.
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Our family is so happy for your decision Brandon. You will be in our prayers and thoughts as you begin your journey to become an awesome priest. Congrats and Good luck!!!
May God Bless you Brandon. I keep you in my daily prayers. Your Grandmother would be so proud of you