Dear Saint Mary Parish Community,
Greetings! For the past three weeks, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of living and serving here among you for my summer assignment. I thank you for your abundant kindness and hospitality that you’ve shown in welcoming me here in Fredericksburg, it’s been a pleasure meeting you all and I’m excited to continue to get to know you and the parish as a whole a bit better as the summer progresses. This week, Father Rooney generously has given me a bit of space in the bulletin to introduce myself.
Right now, I’m currently coming to the end of my Seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, and God willing, I’ll be ordained a Deacon in October and then a Priest for the Diocese next June. My time in seminary has been a blessing and a graced opportunity to fall deeper in love with Christ and I’m enthusiastically looking forward to serving God and His Church as a Priest in the very near future.
Next to my faith, I’d have to say my family is probably the most important thing in my life. I grew up in Burke, Virginia as the oldest child in a family with four kids. My parents, Richard and Patricia, still live in Burke, and that’s where I call home. I have a younger brother, Tom, and two younger sisters, Alison and Mary Catherine. In terms of our faith, I’d say we were a pretty average family. We went to Mass on Sundays and prayed during the week as a family. My parents were involved in the parish (Nativity) and my brother and I always served Mass on Sunday as well, but I never really considered being a Priest when I was in primary or high school. When I finally did graduate from Lake Braddock Secondary School, I wanted to be both a Scientist and a Musician, so accordingly I entered the University of Rochester to study Physics and the Eastman School of Music for Saxophone Performance.
My vocation story really took off when I got to college. Through a number of graced experiences and some good friends, God was at work in my life, encouraging me to grow in discipleship and a personal relationship with Christ in faith. He used my love of the beauty of music to come to know and love Him as the source of all beauty in the arts, and my love of order and truth in the sciences to fall in love with the Word, the Son of God who is truth. Slowly but surely, my life changed for the better: I began to attend daily Mass, pray regularly and go to weekly confession. Then one day, the idea of Priesthood dawned on me while at daily Mass. “What if I’m supposed to be a Priest?” At the time, I wasn’t overjoyed at the prospect. So, I dismissed it and moved on with life. And yet, the idea still came back to me in prayer, time after time. I ran from it for quite a while. I graduated with degrees in Mathematics, Physics and Music Performance and got a job in Arlington working for SAIC, a large defense contractor.
I really gave the life I thought I wanted my best effort, and still I wasn’t content. So after two and a half years, I contacted the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Arlington, and then entered the Seminary. From that point on, I’ve been constantly awestruck by the grace of God, the blessings I’ve received and the great happiness and peace that has come from learning to accept God’s will and vocation for my life. As I said, I’m joyfully looking forward to being a Priest in the near future, and I’m elated to be here in Fredericksburg for the summer!