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home : opinion : perspectives

9/5/2013 9:01:00 AM
Seminarian's story

(Editor's note: Matthew Houle, who just moved into Jogues House as he prepares to enter the seminary, shared the story below of his call to the priesthood.)

I first felt called to the priesthood when I was 15 years old. I was an altar server at St. Bernard's parish in Cohoes at the time and I had a powerful experience of God working in my life. That is when I began questioning whether or not God was calling me to be a priest. 

At the time, I had more questions than answers. After I graduated from college, I was invited to a discernment meeting. I didn't really want to think about becoming a priest, at least not at that time.  I figured I would deal with that question later, so I [initially] avoided the discernment meetings. [But] I realized that eventually, I would have to attend at least one, so I did.

At that first discernment meeting, I realized how much I enjoyed gathering with others in prayer and discussing common concerns we all had. I saw that I was not alone in my discernment. There were others my age who were thinking about the same thing that I was. 

I could see, very clearly, the Holy Spirit at work in the guys discerning at that time. They were normal people, with varied interests and backgrounds, all discerning their vocation. I was immediately struck, not only by how down to earth they were, but also by their holiness and devotion and the fraternity of the men living in the discernment/formation house. This encouraged me to continue my own discernment. 

I became a teacher, first at Bishop Maginn High School in Albany and later at Catholic Central High School in Troy. I had the joy of teaching social studies and theology and I was even a campus minister for a while. It seemed to be a perfect fit for me. It was a job that I loved.

However, the thought of the priesthood always remained with me. Every so often, a student would say, "You should become a priest," or, "Why aren't you a priest?"

This was both high praise and pointed questioning. I had wrestled with the many questions my possible vocation raised for many years: Could I be a good priest? Could I really achieve the level of holiness I saw in other priests? What about the sacrifices that every priest must make? What would I do as a priest? Where do I belong? I still had no answer to these questions. 

After eight years of teaching and almost 15 years of discerning, it all came down to one question: "Am I willing to trust completely in God and do whatever He wants for me, and do it on His terms, not my own?"

In order to answer this question, I began meeting with a spiritual director and began regular prayer, the liturgy of the hours and fasting. Through it all, I have felt the Holy Spirit working in my life, transforming me and liberating me to trust in God. I have decided to continue discerning as I begin my first year of pre-seminary formation at the St. Isaac Jogues House.

Related Stories:
• Diocese prepares to call more vocations 'by name'

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