During Easter Triduum, the seminary sends us home to help at our home parishes. As a Diocese transplant I wasn’t able to go home to family, but I did return to my adopted home parish, St. Mary’s in College Station. Most of my friends are graduated by this point, so I got to spend more time with my brother and the few close friends I have left. It was a weekend of great joy, gratitude, and affirmation of my current path. One particular moment of affirmation is worth sharing.
After Mass on Thursday night, we process with the consecrated hosts from the main sanctuary to the activity center and are invited to “Stay Here and Keep Watch” (player has a rough recording from a few years ago). During that procession, we walk past a fully lit Mary grotto in the courtyard. I was very struck by the image and went back later to take the picture up top.
While taking the picture, a guy sitting in front turns to me and says “Can you sit down for a second?” I oblige, thinking ‘I wonder where this is going?’ His opening line:
“You probably don’t remember me, but we met a few years ago. I am never going to forget you.”
Well that’s a bold opening. He proceeds to inform me that three years ago we had been at the same table during a business honors scholarship dinner (I remember the event, not the guy or the conversation). We were talking about our majors and future careers, and apparently I told everyone at the table I was entering Seminary after graduation. In his words, “That was the craziest thing I had ever heard. You blew me away… I’m from Mexico, and we have lots of priests, but I never expected to see a kid in the business school at a major university wanting to become a priest. It really struck me. In fact, I went home and told my friends and family about you. I’ve never seen you since, and you probably don’t remember any of this, but I honestly do pray for you on a regular basis. Thank you for the inspiration.”
Not what I expected at all. Wow
It’s things like this that give me strength to keep going. In hindsight, I remember leaving that scholarship dinner frustrated, thinking “I’m about to enter seminary and waste all of these skills I have been gifted with and recognized for. Why is God giving me passions and asking me to throw them away?” It was a significant moment of discernment anxiety, in which I had to trust that God was not going to waste what He had given me. I got through it, entered, and am now very confident in my discernment, but those feelings of “I would love to be out in the business world” still haven’t entirely disappeared. I’m thinking they never will. There’s always going to be some ‘better option’ waiting in the distance.
What I’ve learned in my two years of seminary, and what conversations like this one affirm, is that God is not throwing away the gifts He’s given me. While not as present day-to-day, those skills continue to play a role in the tasks I’m asked to do. On the advancement team, I helped set up a database and oversaw Facebook marketing analytics. In the parish last summer, I could read financial statements during finance council meetings and talk to the business manager about debt repayments. My general economic/societal/business knowledge allows me to have conversations with strangers I meet around the country and provide a great in to share how I manage to integrate Christ into these other areas of life. I still love talking strategic management and see so much opportunity for it in parishes.
So thank you, Pablo, for stopping me. It was a beautiful moment. And thank you to everyone that repeatedly tells me of the prayers you offer for me. They mean more than you know.