Storm Journal: Experience at GRB Shelter

Hurricane Harvey is raging hard and we’re all looking for ways to help. After hearing calls for help on TV a few nights ago (Monday 8/28), I went out with a group of seminarians to volunteer at the Red Cross shelter downtown (George R. Brown Convention Center). It took us 1.5 hours of attempting to drive the 10 miles in the middle of pouting rain, but we managed eventually.

Seminarian, Harvey, Relief

Calm before the storm


What did we find:

1. There were an incredibly large amount of people, I’ve heard estimates between 5k-9k, but it was well staffed and organized. No chaos, everyone is calm (relatively given the circumstances). Props to HPD and Red Cross staff for creating a safe environment.

Main Room – People entered in here, picked up clothes and food, then claimed a space.

2. There are an incredible amount of small tasks that need to happen. I served from 10pm-6am. In that time I vacuumed carpet, picked up and took out trash, served food, sorted clothes, made beds for refugees, visited with medical patients, distributed blankets, and simply talked to people as they processed the experience.

3. On top of the stress of not being in your house, it’s doubly difficult to sleep in a room with half-dim lights, people talking, and thousands of strangers all around you. More – we ran out of cots and blankets so lots of people were sleeping on a sheet of cardboard. Watching everyone attempt to sleep away the terror of their past and upcoming days was a sight of marvel. After the initial shock passes, life is going to be terribly difficult when these people are stuck in the shelter for week(s) without anywhere else to go.

One of the 5 “sleeping” halls. If you got there early enough you landed a cot and a blanket.

4. There are people there from all backgrounds and situations.
The stories are endless. Majority boat evacuations. Very few came in cars. Families with boxes of supplies. Families with only a backpack. Poor families. Well-off families. Tons of babies and infants. At one point I saw a girl on a cot with a macbook. This thing cuts across all boundaries.

5. There was an groups of nurses and doctors serving an endless stream of patients with various needs. I spent a lot of time talking with med patients. Those medical personnel are incredible.

A tiny portion of the total food we had ready to give out. MREs for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

A few stories:

  • One couple got on a boat intending to head to the hospital for dialysis. The boat misunderstood and took them to a central location and eventually to the downtown shelter. Their house is fine but they have no way to get back. He just needed a hospital. Still, the doctors at GRB provided the service.
  • One woman was displaced with her daughter and granddaughter. She’s diabetic and hadn’t received insulin in 3 days. The doctors went through her medicine, replaced her stock, and patiently gave ongoing advice.
  • One woman was volunteering because 10 years ago she had been displaced herself in Ike. She was giving in the same way she had received at that time.
  • One 80 year old man in a KofC shirt was pushing himself across the floor in a wheelchair. He couldn’t find his cot, so I pushed him around and we searched the hall. His house was totally underwater, he had to be saved by boat with his wife, and his kids don’t know where he is.We ended up talking about his Knights initiation, “Some things you never forget. I can close my eyes and remember the room… I don’t think I’ll ever forget this either.”
  • One homeless guy was great spirits, “I’m used to this. I sleep outside every night. They’re treating us super well in here.”
  • One guy was visiting on work from London when his temporary apartment flooded. He had nowhere else to go

Overwhelming and humbling. Devastation and hope. Desperation, yet somehow moments of hushed calm and peace.

Prepping for breakfast at 5am. Notice the chairs. Most people in the last halls came late and didn’t get cots. So we made beds out of chairs and cardboard.


The psalm from yesterday’s morning prayer could not be more appropriate. Psalm 29 rings out:
“The God of Glory thunders.
In his temple they all cry out: “Glory!”
The Lord sat enthroned over the flood
The Lord sits as king forever.”

Donations and Volunteers:

Honestly, direct money is the best bet. Pick you’re favorite group. It feels impersonal, but its It’s easier for them to buy the goods they need in the moment rather than dedicate space and manpower to sort through donations. Please no more clothes, there’s an overabundance and it’s only taking up space and man hours to sort.
I’m personally recommending Adore Ministries or Catholic Charities of Central Texas.

At the time, Red Cross was taking anyone they could find. Now they’re is turning away unregistered volunteers downtown, but specifically looking for night shifts and people with medical or counseling experience – the grief ministry is very real. I’d recommend trying another shelter in the area, but some of those are hitting volunteer capacity as well. If you can, directly helping a neighbor or friend is always the most effective work. But don’t feel the need to do something immediately. This is going to be a long haul recovery effort.

GRB Clothes Donation Shelter

Clothes mountain


My recommendation: Take whatever you want to give away today and store it in a closet – food, paper towels, cheerios, shampoo, towels, etc. In 3 weeks, drive down the street and give it to a random person working on their house. I guarantee they will appreciate it and need it just as much as people do today. Sustained generosity is key.

Priest of Christ, Priest Like Christ

Last night I locked Jesus away. Along with the whole Church, I sat at table with him, partook in the new covenant established in his body and blood (Eucharist), processed with him to the garden, prayed, and kept watch through the night. Then at midnight, as commanded by the Church (delegated to me by my pastor), I took him away and abandoned him in a cell. Literally, I took his body from the altar of adoration, reposed him in a hidden place, turned the key, locked the door, and left him alone. Empty Church, Empty Chapel. Empty Me.


Procession – (via Aggie Catholic)

That was a reflection from Good Friday morning that I never got around to posting. It was profound enough to inspire a lot of thoughts about the nature of Christ and the nature of priesthood. Here I hope to share some general teachings on the subjects and reflect on the way I’m being challenged to live them out.

On Holy Thursday we celebrate the institution of the priesthood and the Eucharist. If I’m called to be a priest like Christ, it’s important to understand how he lived his priesthood. Who is Jesus? What is a priest? How does it relate to the Eucharist? How do I be a priest like Christ?

The Suffering Servant

Holy Thursday begins the paschal mystery in which Jesus’ true identity comes to be known. People all throughout the Gospels have different answers and opinions to the question, “Who is Jesus?” There is great power in applying Jesus’ questions to ourselves, and Fulton Sheen uses Matthew 16 as a model for us to learn from.  Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do the people say I am?” They respond, “John the Baptist… Elijah… Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Mt 16:13-14). All incorrect. He asks Peter (and us) “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responds correctly, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mt 16:15-16). I know I constantly return to this question in prayer and ask God for the grace to affirm Jesus’ identity with conviction.

But, we would be in error to stop there because Jesus doesn’t stop there. After affirming the recognition of his divinity, Jesus continues on and answers his own question. He is not simply the Christ, the God-Man. He is also a man who will “go to Jerusalem, suffer many things from the elders… be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). Jesus clearly reveals his identity; he is the suffering servant who will be abused and abandoned for the sake of those he comes to serve (see Isaiah 52-53). The Hebrew word ‘doulos’ (servant) refers to a slave. Jesus is one who will toil, serve, do dirty work, and ultimately die. All of this is for the sake of those he loves – each of us.

Suffering Servant

Suffering Servant – (via Aggie Catholic)

Priests Offer Sacrifice. Jesus Offers Himself

Jesus is also a model for priests, but we need some nuance when we say that the Last Supper is the institution of the Priesthood. There have been priests throughout all of history. Most religions have priests of some sort. Classically, a priest is simply “one who offers sacrifice.” All throughout the Old Testament there are priests of foreign gods and Israel had a priesthood in the line of Aaron and Levi. The Levitical priesthood offered sacrifices in the Temple and still existed in Jesus’ time. Jesus did not descend from Levi’s line. His priesthood is something new.

What exactly is new about Jesus and his priesthood? What was instituted? For the sake of reflection today, the most important “new” is the newness in the thing (aka the ’victim’) being offered for sacrifice. Old Testament priests offered lambs, bulls, etc. At a Passover meal, the Jews offer an unblemished lamb as God commanded (see Exodus 12, the first reading at HT Mass).

At the Last Supper, Jesus offers only himself. He says at the offering “this is MY body… this is MY blood.” He himself is the sacrifice being offered up to God. Jesus is both the priest, the one offering sacrifice, and the victim, the one being offered. He gave himself in the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, right before giving himself up to abandonment, loneliness, suffering, and death on Good Friday. His priestly sacrifice consists of the total surrender of self and union with the Father. He let himself be locked away – 2000 years ago and still today. He is a suffering-servant; Priest-Victim.

This is my Body

“Behold the Lamb of God” – (via Aggie Catholic)

Priest Of Christ. Priest Like Christ

“Unlike anyone else, Our Lord came on earth, not to live, but to die. Death for our redemption was the goal of His sojourn here, the gold that he was seeking. He was, therefore, not primarily a teacher, but a Savior. Was not Christ the Priest a Victim? He never offered anything except Himself. So we have a mutilated concept of our priesthood, if we envisage it apart from making ourselves victims in the prolongation of His Incarnation.”
– Fulton Sheen, The Priest is Not His Own

I heard it a few weeks ago, but this understanding of priesthood has deeply affected my understanding of the priesthood I am called to live. Fulton Sheen makes the point that it’s “easy” to be a priest “of Christ”. A priest simply has to be ordained, show up, follow instructions, say the words, and do the actions. A priest “of Christ” can be used by God for sacramental ministry, be an administrator, build buildings, run meetings, etc. He can fulfill all the outward functions without truly sharing the identity of Christ.

Simply being a priest is not the true call. The call is to be a priest “like Christ” – to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and give oneself as a sacrifice for the people of God. This priest sacrifices his freedom, his comfort, his time, and his very self in the service of his flock. A priest like Christ must be a suffering servant; a priest-victim.

In the Mass he offers up the sacrifices of others as he unites them to the one sacrifice of Jesus – “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God…” In his life he offers himself up as a sacrifice for others. This isn’t so much an external function as an internal disposition. A priest’s deepest identity is to be like Christ and everything else flows from there.

What Sacrifice Am I Offering?

So here I am, preparing myself for Jesus’ priesthood. This idea is one I have been praying about all semester. In seminary we spend a lot of time talking about the things that a priest “does”. We learn that a priest needs to be a good leader, preacher, administrator, teacher, counselor, apologist, etc. and gain the skills necessary to grow in those areas to the best of our ability. All important. All necessary. But not enough.

Before I perform any ministry, run any program, preach any homilies or pay off any debt, it’s essential that I embrace the essential core of what a priest “is”. A priest is one who stands in the place of Christ and offers himself as a sacrifice. He is a suffering-servant; a priest-victim.

I often receive well-intentioned comments from people I meet, “You’re giving up so much. It’s such a sacrifice.” The things they refer to are generally external – money (poverty), family and sex (celibacy), freedom to do what I want (obedience). Those are real and I’ll readily admit that they’re still a bit daunting, but I don’t think they truly encompass the greatest sacrifice a priest makes. Those sacrifices are mostly framed in a passive, negative sense… what I won’t have. In contrast, I’m being challenged to embrace a life of active, positive sacrifice – the willful giving away of myself. That’s a whole different ballgame. It’s surrender, not destruction; a “yes” not a “no”. It’s an absolutely intimidating, but simultaneously thrilling, prospect.

Thrilling? Isn’t self-sacrifice awful? Why on earth would I want to do it?

I suppose in one respect I can simply trust Christ’s words, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24). Beyond that Joseph Ratzinger speaks about the essence of sacrifice being about healing – it transforms my broken self-centeredness into a pure identity. In this sense, the total offering of myself in the “therapy” of sacrifice is what will ultimately allow me the satisfaction entering into communion with others.

“Such sacrifice has nothing to do with destruction. It is an act of new creation, the restoration of creation to its true identity” – Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy

Pray for me?

I have 4 years to go until I’m called to Orders and this change in identity truly occurs, but now is the time to prepare so I can give a free, total, faithful, fruitful “I do” to the Church. My prayer has increasing been focused on asking God to give me the grace to embrace this radical call of self-sacrifice. I pray I will be prepared to embrace the identity of suffering-servant and priest-victim. He let me lock him away; I pray I’ll be ready when he asks the same in return.

“May God, who has begun this good work in you, now bring it to fulfillment”

Renewal of Priestly Promises

Today I had the chance to attend the annual Chrism Mass in the diocese. Every Tuesday of Holy Week the priests of the diocese (100+) gather with the Bishop to renew their priestly promises and receive newly consecrated oils which will be used for annointings and sacraments. This is my first year attending and it brought great consolation to be in the presence of all the priest’s I’ll eventually be serving alongside. It was a powerful ceremony.


Chrism Mass Austin 2012

Chrism Mass 2012 (couldn’t find one from today) – Via Diocese of Austin Facebook

The most moving part of the Mass was the renewal of promises. At ordination each priest makes promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience. He gains the right to celebrate sacraments but also incurs the obligation to serve the Church and her people. Ordinations are exciting because you see the starry-eyed guys who’ve spent 7+ years in formation and are eager to “get out there” and get to work for the Kingdom. The zeal and desire is inspiring.

The renewal of vows is inspiring in another way. The priests span the range – old and new. Some priests are there for the 25th time. Some for the first. All have experienced the reality of priestly ministry (As a visiting priest at the seminary recently said – “It’s not a rainbows and waterfalls of grace…. sometimes it’s black and bruising”). These men have seen hard times, fought good fights, endured difficulty, and persevered through it. They’ve moved past the priestly honeymoon and continued in ministry. They’ve celebrated thousands of confessions, marriages, baptisms, and seen many of those people walk away, but they’re not giving up the good fight. They’re publicly declaring that they want to go back into the ring. They went through the ringer last year and showed up today to commit to another one. They’re not committing to an imagined future; they’re committing to a future they know well. That moves me.

More than the eloquent speeches among seminarians, or soaring words of writers, or text of Church documents… seeing these priests united with the Bishop in promises to love the Lord and serve his people was a moment of power. In the seminary we learn a lot of tools and techniques of priestly ministry. Today I witnessed a renewal of the heart of the priesthood – Union with Christ, celebration of Sacraments, and zeal to serve the people of God.

Words have power. They manifest the will and change lives. Priests’ words manifest God’s power in the world – effecting the change of bread into Christ’s body and forgiving sins. Today their words declared to the world that God will provide, His call is real, and they desire to serve Him to the end. I pray for the grace to do the same in the future.

The renewal of Priestly Promises:

Bishop: Beloved sons…
are you resolved to renew
in the presence of your Bishop and God’s holy people,
the promises you once made?

Priests: I Am

Bishop: Are you resolved to be more united with the Lord Jesus
and more closely conformed to him,
denying yourselves and confirming those promises
about sacred duties towards Christ’s Church
which, prompted by love of him,
you willingly and joyfully pledged
on the day of your priestly ordination?

Priests: I Am

Bishop: Are you resolved to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God
in the Holy Eucharist and the other liturgical rites
and to discharge faithfully the sacred office of teaching,
following Christ the Head and Shepherd,
not seeking any gain,
but moved only by zeal for souls?

Priests: I Am

Life Update:

This year, the Seminary released us back to our dioceses for Holy Week. So, I’m back at St. Mary’s Catholic Center for a third round of MC’ing Triduum liturgies. With two years under my belt now, I’m ready to actually offer constructive help. Growth happens in small ways, but I see definite progress when I return more confident to situations I’ve experience before. Apparently something is working.

The Ninth Station – Weakness and Surrender

The Social Media team at St. Mary’s in running a series of reflections on the Station of the Cross. Mine recently went up, so I’m sharing here. The spiritual theme of my semester has been ‘surrender’. God is asking me to surrender, give up control, and draw my strength from Him. The ninth station is an opportunity to reflect on the ways Jesus models this for me.


The team has also run a few other videos of me this year. Here’s a brief vocation story and a reflection from Advent.


For more media and reflections from seminarians, check out the St. Mary’s Facebook page (link) and Youtube channel (link).

David Konderla – Priest, Bishop, Father

Last summer Father David Konderla, Priest of the Diocese of Austin and Pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station, became Bishop David Konderla, Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa. I had the pleasure to attend the ordination and it proved to be a profound experience in my own discernment journey. While It’s impossible to say with total certainty, I’m reasonably sure that I wouldn’t be in seminary if it weren’t for now Bishop David (speaking of the past I’ll refer to “Fr David”). Lots of other people have written eloquently about his impact. I’ll add another story to the collection.

Freshman Colby

I arrived as a freshman at Texas A&M coming off a couple summer experiences that left me convinced I was supposed to be a priest. I have a historical tendency to make situations much more difficult than they need to be, so my conviction became a driving force. It wasn’t that God was calling me to discern, pray, and peacefully enter. Rather, God wanted me NOW (regardless of how much I hated the idea), and I needed to stop everything, talk to the man in charge, and get this train rolling.

In the first week or two of school I sent Fr David a dramatic email explaining my situation. He responded with a simple, “why don’t we meet up and talk about that?” When we eventually met up, he listened to my tumult, and gave what came to be a classic response, “You know Colby, I think you’re making this way too difficult. It doesn’t sound like you’re in a peaceful place right now, so why don’t you calm down, wait on this, and give God some time to act. If he wants you to be a priest, he’ll make it happen. There’s no need to rush.” He gave me some info about discernment events and invited me to just be a student for a little while.

“You’re in a good place to discern. This is a new call for you. Try to slow it down and see where it goes.”

Fr David - Gig em

Who could say ‘no’?

I (reluctantly) took his advice to heart and gave myself the freedom to live a bit as a student. That initial meeting became somewhat prophetic, because for the next four years we had the exact same conversation multiple times. I’d come back from a retreat or semester break flustered, anxious and worried about discernment… ready to cut ties and run off into the wilderness. He’d calm me down, tell me it’s going to be ok, and advise that maybe I need to wait a bit longer. He recognized what I couldn’t at the time, that God likely was calling but I was not in a place to respond in a healthy way.

After persevering with me for years, explicitly encouraging me to date on two different occasions, enduring more bouts of anxious conviction, and ultimately saving me from impulsively running off to be a monk, his patient endurance paid off. Senior year I was significantly more at peace and able to able to enter seminary with some amount of belief that God was calling me for my own good. While that belief had to grow after entering (see more recent history), the guidance he offered was what I needed to get my foot in the door.

That’s a lot about me, but it also highlights how profoundly grateful I am for his priesthood.

It was his own love for the priesthood, commitment to prayer, relationship with a God who speaks in peace, and patient expectation in the Lord’s work that ultimately allowed him to guide a much more immature discerner (me) on the path to falling in love with the vocation he so dearly cared for himself.

Seminarian Colby

At IPF last summer we spent a lot of time learning about and meditating on the identities of a diocesan priest, namely Beloved Son, Chaste Spouse, Spiritual Father, Divine Physician, and Head/Shepherd. During the summer, I was struggling with the identity of spiritual father. I’ve always been drawn to helping others draw into a deeper relationship with Christ, but as a new seminarian I was very uncomfortable with the attention I received from people and parishes simply for showing up. Consequently, I was also uncomfortable with the trust people put in a priest solely because of his title. I suppose it’s the millennial in me that would rather minister as a peer than a boss. I was afraid of losing my identity. A common refrain was “I want to be ‘Colby, a Seminarian,’ not ‘Colby the Seminarian’ or ‘Seminarian Colby’.”

Bishop David’s ordination was a turning point for me. While there, I was overcome with gratitude for the love and guidance he had given to me over the years. I didn’t go to him initially looking for a friend or peer. I didn’t care about his past life, what podcasts he listens to, or his competency at running a sound board; I wanted a man who could speak from experience and personal transformation about the way that God moves. His identity as priest was something I could trust in; I knew his job was to take me to Christ. I didn’t realize it at the time, but what I really wanted was a spiritual Father. God bless him, Fr David was exactly that for me. Now, his own example is key for me embracing that key pillar of diocesan priesthood.

Ordination Konderla


When I go back to visit College Station, Fr. David isn’t there anymore. Somewhere along the line, word of the humble, witty, calm, patient Shepherd and Father made its way up to Rome. That’s sad for me on a selfish level, but brings me so much joy for the greater Church. The people of Tulsa are a blessed bunch.

Beloved Son of God. Priest of Christ. Pastor of thousands. Father to hundreds. Bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa.

I thank God every day for the man named David Konderla. Can you join me in saying a prayer for him and all our Bishops and Priests?

Note: This isn’t the first time I’ve written about holy priests that have become holy bishops (See Bishop Kelly). What a crazy life.


One of the minor sufferings of seminary life is that after 16 straight years of school, I’m now in the middle of 6 more years. I love learning and particularly enjoy the current topics of study, but that’s a long time to do anything. So, I like to remember that one of the major joys of still being a student is that I get student breaks. My friends are out working 8-5 and not spending their weekends cranking out 10 page papers, but I get the luxury of long Christmas and Summer vacations. I also get a full week of spring break, which is why I’m spending every afternoon at the library working on long-delayed projects. It’s a good chance to play catch up and finish off some unfinished blog thoughts.

Discernment Update: Things Change

Here’s a general life update before I deactivate my facebook tonight. If you want to keep up with me going forward, I’ll still be periodically updating the blog. I (obviously) won’t be linking on facebook so you won’t get updates on there. Maybe friends will pick up the slack. Otherwise, if you enter your email address at the bottom of the page and you’ll automatically get updates when I post.

As of February 1, 2016, I’m in my third year of Seminary. I finished 2 years of philosophy studies at Holy Trinity Seminary/University of Dallas, then moved to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for theology studies (Pursuing an MDiv and MA in Theology). Barring an unforeseen circumstance, I’ll be ordained a deacon in May 2020 and a priest in June 2021. I say that with joy.

A lot has changed since I first entered and that’s a very good thing. My discernment has matured and my peace/conviction has continued to grow. When I first applied and was accepted by the diocese during my senior year of college, I was still very hesitant. If you asked me how I was doing at the time (and got an honest answer), it would have been something like this, “I’m convinced that God wants me to be in seminary, but I’m still really uncomfortable with that idea. So I’m entering, but I’ll probably be done at the end of the year.”

In The Beginning – Restless

My first semester was a continuation of that theme. I was there because God wanted me to be, but I was looking for reason to leave. “Hey God, I’m here… but I’m raising my hand and waiting for you to call on me to say that this was all a big joke. I’ll be out of here tomorrow if you let me.” Of course God was working in the process, but all my effort was spent “fighting” the very call I was attempting to follow. I was doing everything I needed to externally, but prayer was tumultuous and hardly receptive.

Sometime in the second semester of first year I realized that I was doing it all wrong. If I was called to priesthood, the best thing I could do would be dive fully into seminary life. Likewise, if I was not called to priesthood, the best thing I could do would be to dive fully into seminary life. The only way God can confirm or deny a call is by giving it your full will. In either case, God would speak in peace or discontentment (the signs of discernment). This principle can be called the “presumption of permanence”. I’m supposed to be here unless God calls me out, and the only way to find out I’m not supposed to be here is to live the life and discover I’m miserable (as some of my friends have along the way).

But as these things go, that’s not how it went down. Second semester and second year were major periods of growth. To the measure I allowed him in, God slowly began addressing the faults and lies in my belief and revealed my deeper desires. Over time, time in prayer began to heal my deep mistrust of God’s fatherly benevolence and I became more able to say “Maybe God is calling me to this not because he’s a tyrant who needs me to fill a role, but because it’s actually the best thing for me.”

Coming to major seminary has been a continuation of that growth. Priesthood became a lot more real when I started eating meals 3 times a day with deacons who will be ordained to full Holy Orders in less than year. It continues to grow more real as I petition for minor orders (steps along the way) and more deeply embrace the priest’s life of prayer. As I get further into formation, I become more aware of the endless ways I need to grow in holiness, dependence on God, and practical habits. Somehow, despite that (or perhaps precisely because of that), God keeps calling.

Sem brother at DCYC 2017

I came into Seminary praying, “Jesus, I want to do whatever you ask of me.” I meant that as truly as I could at the time, but the reality is that I didn’t trust Jesus; I was going to do what He asked, but I resented Him for it. After 2+ years of formation, spiritual guidance, and prayer, God has worked powerfully to purify my ability to receive his love and consolation. Today I’m praying the same prayer, “Jesus, I want to do whatever you ask of me,” but I poses a deeper trust that God is good and will only ask what is good for me. Never easy, but good.

Things Change – Peace, Joy, Desire

Two years ago I was afraid of the title “seminarian”. I remember telling friends the summer before I entered, “I’m not a seminarian till I talk in the door” (My vocation director would disagree). I avoided buying a cassock until a month after I moved into seminary; I figured I’d be gone before I needed it and I didn’t want the commitment of putting money down on something so officially Catholic. Today I’m awed and humbled by the love I receive from others and want as many men as God wills to join me in the beautiful, challenging, grace-filled, rewarding life. I love when I get to speak to groups about seminary and my own discernment (More).

Two years ago I was looking for a reason to leave. Today I would fight hard if were told I’m not called to Priesthood and need to leave seminary, “you don’t understand. This is what God is calling me to and I really desire it.” Of course I would also take that leap into unknown and obey is asked/told.

God keeps calling me. To sanctity, but a sanctity specifically lived out as seminarian and eventual as a priest. That’s affirmed in my superiors who speak as representative of the Church, my spiritual directors who guide my interior life of prayer, and the countless people I meet when I visit parishes to speak or serve. Simultaneously, my desire for ordination continues to grow.

My earlier discernment focused on the things I’d be giving up. “I won’t be with that girl. I won’t have a family. I won’t work in the tech industry. I won’t be able to take on the challenge of living sanctity in the lay life. Etc.” Today I’m much more aware of the things I would miss out on if I weren’t a priest. “I won’t be able to forgive those sins. I won’t reconcile that person to Jesus. I won’t physically make Christ present on that altar. I won’t be with that family as they suffer. I won’t be free to give myself entirely to the people of this parish. I won’t live the same dependent intimacy with the Lord. Etc.” There is so much goodness in the priesthood that I couldn’t even imagine earlier on (more).

So here I am. God keeps calling. My desire is continually affirmed in contended joy. We keep pressing on together.

Austin DCY 2017 Mural

You get enough pictures of me. Check out this beautiful mural commissioned for our diocese youth conference.