1) Father Kevin: On a scale of 1-10, how hard was it to get your theology degree and become a priest? How long was the process of becoming a priest?
Like any field of study, theology can be challenging, but I have always found it to be a stimulating and enriching topic to explore. Seminary formation, and the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree that seminarians earns, is probably similar to most graduate degrees of similar stature, though certainly a lost easier than law school or med school. For diocesan priests (like me) it takes about 4-6 years of study and formation before one can be ordained. For religious order priests, formation takes a bit longer, usually 7 or 8 years at least.
2) How were your parents impacted by your vocation?
My parents were very pleased and supportive of me. The biggest impact is that they don’t get to see me as often, and they’ve had to resign themselves to my not visiting them any longer at Christmas and Easter, as these are times of peak activity for me as a parish priest.
3) What is a good hint to vocation/signs to look for other than paying attention? How do you know what vocation is speaking to you? How do you know that you have been called?
Signs of a vocation to anything might include the following: a) your heart is strongly drown to it; b) you find yourself frequently imagining yourself doing it and enjoying it; 3) people you trust and respect encourage you to think about it; 4) your prayer life keeps drawing you to think about it and to entertain it as a real possibility; 5) you sense that you have gifts and talents that would serve you, and others, well in the vocation.
4) Do you get paid a lot? Not to be rude…
Salary-wise, I do not get paid a lot but I am easily able to live off of what I do get paid. However, the “benefits” of priesthood are out of this world!
5) What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I am a hopeless chocaholic. I love to combine Chocolate Chocalate-Chip with Vanilla Swiss Almond—both Haagen-Dazs flavors.
6) Just wondering, what is the church’s view on marrying someone with a different religion? It is allowed?
Actually, the Catholic Church has laws—canons 1124 and 1086—that prohibit Catholics from marrying non-Catholics. However, it is possible to obtain permission in particular cases to have these prohibitions dispensed with. One simply petitions for what is called dispensation from canonical impediment so that the Catholic party may marry either a baptized non- Catholic (“mixed marriage”) or an unbaptized person (marriage involving “disparity of cult”). The Catholic concern is that marriage to a non-Catholic will not have an undermining or weakening influence on the faith of the Catholic spouse. We also want to make sure that the conscience and beliefs of the non-Catholic party are respected. Basically, however, Catholics ought to marry other Catholics, and all marriages involving Catholics should be celebrated according to the Catholic form of the Rite of Marriage.
8) How many siblings do you have?
I have an older brother (Michael) and two younger sisters (Barbara and Ann).
9) How do you deal with the fears that come with commitment?
I just keeping praying over and repeating the words of Jesus: “Do not be afraid.”
10) How can I, if at all, make my own vocation? Can our vocation change?
Am not sure what is meant by “make my own vocation”. A vocation is something that one is called to do by another person—in our context, God—otherwise it is not a “vocation” in the true sense. In other words, one can’t really “call” one’s self. I think it is possible for some vocations to change. For a time in my life, I believe I was called to be lay ecclesial minister in the Church. I believe firmly that God wanted me to do this for a time. But this vocation eventually led to the realization that God did not want me to stay a lay ecclesial minister for the rest of my life. Lay ecclesial ministry led me to discern that I was ultimately called to become an ordained priest.
11) Father Kevin: What is the Sacrament of Holy Orders and who receives it?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1536) defines Holy Orders as “the Sacrament of Apostolic Ministry by which the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church through the laying on of hands. This sacrament has three distinct degrees or ‘orders’: deacon, priest (or presbyter), and bishop. In the Catholic Church only adult males, for whom no impediments to this sacrament exist, are eligible for Holy Orders.
12) Did you ever doubt that your vocation wasn’t actually right for you?
Since being ordained a priest, I have never doubted my vocation.
13) Father Kevin: What is the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you?
I assume this is an inquiry about embarrassing moment in my life and ministry as a priest, yes?
The first incident that comes to mind is one that actually happened just days before I was ordained to the priesthood. I was still a deacon at the time, and had been asked to assist the Archbishop at a Mass. I got through the whole Mass just fine, doing flawlessly all the parts of the Mass that the deacon is supposed to do, right up until the final blessing and dismissal. The Archbishop used an option for this part of the Mass that I was unfamiliar with, and I utterly bungled the deacon’s part—much to the dismay of the Archbishop and to my own chagrin.
14) How come you can’t get married if you’re a nun or a priest?
There are a number of reasons for the requirement of “celibacy” on the part of priests and nuns. Priesthood and religious life are both expressions of committed love—just as marriage is—but where the commitment is made wholeheartedly to Christ and the Church, rather than to one’s spouse. In this sense, celibacy represents and participates in the love that Christ (who was celibate) has for the Church. Just as a married couple promise themselves to each other in an exclusive and life-long relationship of committed love as husband and wife, so in the case of priesthood and religious life, priests and nuns promise to love Christ and the Church in an exclusive and life-long relationship of committed love.
15) What sacrifices did you have to make for your vocation?
Priesthood has entailed many sacrifices, just as marriage does. It has entailed the sacrifices of continually striving to put the needs of others ahead of my own needs, of being there for people whenever they need me, of dying to my ego so as to live a more loving and selfless life, and of living life in a genuine spirit of service. Priesthood involves the particular sacrifices of foregoing marriage and of having a family and children of my own (chastity), of living a simple life (poverty), and of submitting my will to the authority of my bishop (obedience).
16) What was the most helpful thing you heard/did to grow your own Catholic faith?
I would list two things. First, going to Mass regularly so as to hear the God’s word and to receive the Eucharist, and, second, studying theology, especially the Bible. The first kept me connected to Christ and the Church in a profoundly mystical way, and the second helped me to appreciate the profound wisdom and depth of the Catholic tradition—its truth, its goodness and its beauty. Also the witness of the saints has always inspired me deeply with their real life examples of the truth, the goodness and the beauty of the Christian life fully lived.
17) What is the point of life?
To know, love and serve God in this life, so as to be happy with him forever in the next—i. e., to be(come) a saint.