||Home Parish:Corpus Christi Church, Round Lake, NY
Seminary / Stage of Study:1st Theology, Pontifical North American College, Rome, Italy
Degrees: Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam (2012), Pre-Theology Philosophy Certificate from St. John’s University, Queens, NY (2017)
Work Experience:Music Teacher (Scotia-Glenville, Voorheesville, and Tamarac school districts), Pastoral Associate for Administration & Director of Music at Corpus Christi Church, Family Assistance Program Associate at CAPTAIN Youth & Family Services
Interests:Piano, organ, learning Italian, The Office, haiku poetry
Vocation Story: Each seminarian and priest has his own vocation story and I’ve always been intrigued to learn about the origins of a vocation to the priesthood. It’s astounding to see how God calls individuals to this particular role of service in the Church, and I’m continually amazed when I reflect and see how God has worked in my own life.
My connection to parish ministry has always been through music. I started playing piano in the contemporary music ensemble at St. Mary’s, Crescent when I was in 7th grade and I continued to play through high school and in college. While in college, I was the organist at two churches, which meant I attended three Masses every weekend. This experience led to a job as Director of Music at Corpus Christi Church after I graduated in 2012. I was working at Corpus Christi when I received an invitation to attend a retreat with Bishop Hubbard on the priesthood and what discernment was all about. Although I had always been involved in the music ministry, this retreat was the invitation from God to consider another ministry in the Church: the priesthood.
I taught music in school for a couple years while working at Corpus Christi and attended discernment events sponsored by the Vocations Office. In 2014, I resigned from my school job and began working full time at Corpus Christi doing administrative work in the office. At this time, the pastor of Corpus Christi and one of my great role models, Fr. Jim Clark, underwent major surgery and chemotherapy. Sadly, after a heroic struggle, he died in October of 2015 and left a tremendous impression on me of what it really means to be a pastor and a true image of Christ. I left my job at the parish in 2016 to begin my summer assignment as a seminarian at Blessed Sacrament in Albany before entering Cathedral Seminary House of Formation in Douglaston, Queens for a year of pre-theology philosophy studies at St. John’s University. I am currently in my first year of theology studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Italy.
Looking back, it’s easy to see God’s hand in the events of my life and the people I’ve encountered. Music has been the constant for me and it kept me involved with parish ministry throughout my life. But my vocation truly grew out of my years at Corpus Christi as I saw the behind-the-scenes work of a parish. It’s not all about Saturday evening or Sunday morning, although that’s an important part of it! Working with Fr. Jim and other parish staff on a regular basis allowed me to see everything that happens during the week: hospital visits, home visits, funerals, food pantry, assisting the poor, preparing for weddings and baptisms, faith formation classes, building improvements, and the list goes on! If the priest is the person of Christ who offers the sacraments, then the parish is the Gospel played out in real life, especially the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
We all have a vocation to holiness that is lived out through the single life, the married life, the professed religious life, or the priesthood. Discerning what our own path is takes time, patience, and prayer. Look at what God has done in your life – who have you encountered, what have you done, what are you interested in? What is God calling you to do?
“And Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him here.’ So they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.’” Mark 10:49
“Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
“I lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.” “Nothing I Hold On To” by United Pursuit
“What do you want of me, Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? I hear you call my name, Lord, and I am moved within me. I am your song and servant, singing your praise like Mary. Surrendered to your Spirit, ‘let it be done to me.’” Excerpts from “Servant Song” by Donna Marie McGargill, OSM