Monday, 22 July 2013

Hearing the Call

Maybe you didn't know this, but my job does encompass more than just writing blog posts. I do other stuff too. Like going to Fiji. Actually, the bulk of my work is in high schools, where I speak to Year 11 and 12 students about vocation. I've been to schools all around the Archdiocese of Brisbane and I've shared with students about my own journey of figuring out my vocation. At the end of my talk I always ask the students if they have any questions. Most of the time they don’t, but every now and then I get asked: “Why did you go to the seminary?”

With my mum on my first day at (priest) school

It’s a great question, and I've asked myself the same question many times as I've looked back on my life.  I was a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Brisbane at Holy Spirit Seminary back in 2010. I was there for a year and had an awesome experience, but ultimately discerned God was calling me in a different direction.
But why did I go? Why did I think God was calling me to the priesthood? In this blog post I wanted to explain some of the things that were going on for me as I tried to figure out if I was meant to be a priest or not.

A wise friend always advised me that we know how to move forwards by looking back: looking back at our life and history and particularly our family life. I grew up in a broken family, but my Filipina mother was firm in her faith. That rubbed off on me and I remember as an 11 year old saying I wanted to be a priest when I grew up.

My faith dimmed a bit in high school, but in Year 12 I joined a youth group and started to define myself by my faith. I was the “Catholic guy” or the “God guy” and all my friends knew it. Priesthood seemed like the obvious destination.

After school as I matured in my faith I started to experience a deeper love for the Church and a desire to serve God. I’d heard plenty of other people say that I should be a priest, but for the first time in my life there was something deeper there in me that wanted to explore the call.

But discerning your call isn't just your call: the community and the Church discern you too. So I went through the formal application process for the seminary, including a psychological assessment and an interview process. The Archbishop approved of me and my seminary journey began.

So there’s a lot more to discerning a call than just saying “I want to be a priest!” For me, there was other people’s observations, a growing desire within me to serve the God and the Church and the Church’s discernment that I was a worthy aspirant.

However, after a year I left the seminary. Why did I leave? I could list stuff like I was too young, I wasn't like the other seminarians, I liked girls, etc, etc...But that’s the journey of a lot of young seminarians. To be honest, I can’t really name a thing which prompted me to leave; but I did have a sense that I was a square peg trying to squeeze through a round hole. The more I prayed and discerned, the more I felt at peace that I’d prayed and discerned enough about priesthood.

In the first few months after I left I wondered if I’d made the right decision. In the years that followed I went back and forth to the point where I moved into Canali House (a discernment house) to look at it again. And again I had the experience that I wasn't called to be a priest. As I moved out of Canali I told a friend I’d discerned I wasn't called to be a priest, and he responded by saying “what, again? You said the same thing when you left the seminary!”

And this is the point. Discernment isn't an exact art. Some people just know their vocation. For other people (like me) discernment involves questioning and listening and wondering. Ultimately, it’s about trusting in God, hoping in his providence and loving him to the point of surrender. Sometimes we get so caught up on the end or on the destination that we miss the point of the process. I’m still not 100% sure of what my vocation is, but regardless of what it will be I know that now and always I can love God, the Church and my brothers and sisters, and that is something to get caught up on.


  1. Thanks Adam, that's a very honest and wonderful reflection on discerning a Vocation.

  2. Angela from Montana23 July 2013 at 00:58

    Awesome Bro!