Learning so much I can use
November 03, 2020 | posted by Dalton R. Moy
Learning so much I can use
If someone were to have told me four years ago that I would be in the seminary, discerning the priesthood in four years, I would have kindly smiled at that person and said “no, I don’t think so.” For many years I was told many variations of this. I was an altar server in my parish since First Communion and I performed the job well, so many had the possibility of priesthood in their minds for me. For many years I had said no to the possibility of priesthood. Not because I didn’t think that I wouldn’t like to have been, however. On the contrary, I had thought it would be really cool to be a priest. I was very active and devoted to my faith, and I enjoyed spending my free time at my parish. The main thing that held me back from wanting to pursue a vocation to the priesthood was the fact that I would have to give up having a wife and kids.
I am a cradle Catholic. I went to Mass every Saturday, at 5 p.m., with my mom and my grandma. I was born into and grew up in St. Jerome Parish in Martinez. My mother was also born in and grew up at St. Jerome. With roots like this, naturally everyone knows you, and in my case, this was even more so. Many parishioners at St. Jerome at one time were parishioners at St. Benedict, just down the street. St. Benedict was the parish my father was born and raised in. After time, many of the parishioners at St. Benedict moved to the more rural areas, across 410, in the area of St. Jerome. So, not only did many St. Jerome parishioners watch me grow up, they also watched either one or both of my parents grow up. Many St. Jerome parishioners, like myself, have roots that sprout from the Polish settlements in our archdiocese. When I visit St. Ann’s in Kosciusko, it is not uncommon for me to run into a fellow St. Jerome parishioner, or one of their kin. This family history that is very prominent in my parish has a large impact on me, because the friends -- actually the family -- that I have within my parish, have shown me a community that I loved and wanted to be a part of. It was through the Lord’s love, worked through them, that I tried to imitated as I began to get involved with the community. As I said I was an altar sever, and I served in that ministry for thirteen years. I also was involved with the youth ministries from eighth grade and on. The youth ministries in our parish have evolved greatly from when I had first begun. We had started with just one youth service ministry, of which I had served as secretary and president, to many ministries, in order to reach more youth, as our small little, country parish grew to a very large, active parish. I have worked with kids in CCD, training servers, cooking club, planning retreats with youth ministers, being on our youth fundraising committee, and much more. I have also done many things around the parish that are too many to number, such as working around the grounds, working festivals and dinners, planning events, taking communion to the sick, serving on the liturgy committee, and even more. Through all of the work and time that I had put in on the St. Jerome grounds, I had to privilege of working with many of the parishioners I know and love, both who I grew up around and the new faces that came to our parish later on. The St. Jerome community has done so much for me, and I always loved to continue contributing. I had dreamed about one day of getting married and raising children in the same community that I grew up in. I wanted to have a lot of kids, at least four. I wanted to raise them well in the faith and show them the love that I had experienced abundantly. I also dreamed of the thought of the possibility of one of my kids growing up and being a priest or religious sister. Little did I know my mind would later change.
After I received my confirmation, my sophomore year of high school, we got a new priest in my parish. We had always had good pastors at my parish, but I hadn’t really connected with them very deeply. This new priest that we received was much different that the rest of the priests I had seen. For one thing, he was young. He was only thirty. He was also very active in the parish. He did more than I had ever seen to try to reach out to as many people in the community, of every walk in life, to get them involved in the community and in their faith. Father Scott Janysek help build our community. I had gotten to know him and I really enjoyed him as a pastor. He showed me a side of the priesthood that I had not really seen before. The way he lived his ministry was inspiring. One day, Father Scott Janysek had popped the same kind of question I had heard a thousand times. He asked me if I wanted to go to an Andrew Dinner. At this point, I was frustrated with always being asked this. I declined the invitation. He even handled my rejection much differently than I had seen before. He didn’t keep bothering me with the same question. He didn’t even bring it up, except for maybe one other time, quite a while later and not very direct. It was very refreshing, but I didn’t know why. I just continued with my work at the parish working under and with him, and I began to see him as a great, holy male role model. He gave me responsibilities within my ministries that would hold me accountable and help me grow. I learned a lot from his leadership, and I still do.
When I was reaching the end of my junior year in high school, I was told by my counselor that I was going to need to solidify an idea for my future career, in order to know my college plans. This had changed many times over the years. In my early years of high school I was considering working somewhere in the field of agriculture, because I enjoyed my ag classes greatly, but in my later years of high school, I began to pursue business. I am not exactly sure where I go the idea of business from, but I assume it had something to do with the work that I had done in my parish and at school. I had help a number of leadership roles, and so I gave management a try, and it felt like a good fit. Things for my future seemed to be falling together, so I thought. But right before my senior year of senior year of high school, after I had most of my plans for college and a career together. Or, so I thought.
The summer before my senior year, a thought ran through my mind that completely blew all the plans for my future to pieces. One night of that summer we had a night of Adoration at my parish. The night after that period of adoration. I could not sleep. The question of “could I actually live without a wife and kids and become a priest?” came into my mind and wouldn’t go away. I was in total agony for a few weeks. Everything felt like it was falling apart. It was very lost, and I kept having this longing to know more about the priesthood. There was a seminarian that was at our parish that summer. One night after an event at the parish, about four days into the turmoil that I was having with this question, he had randomly asked me if I had ever considered the seminary. So I talked things through with him a little bit, but I things were still tangled in my head. They stayed like that for a few months.
About six months later, I was finally no longer in agony, but I was still confused and scared. I kept finding myself looking for more information about the priesthood. I even found myself looking at vocation promotions form other dioceses for the priesthood on YouTube. In January, I finally made the move of bringing this to Father Scott. He and I met on a regular basis to discuss my discernment. I was already eighteen at this point, so I didn’t have to get my parents involved to set up a meeting with the parish secretary, and make things more complicated than they already were for me. He helped me pray and think through the possibility. He didn’t push anything on me. He guided me spiritually, because I, as many teenagers was struggling with faith at that point, though I did feel a call.
When I graduated from East Central High School, in 2018, I went to St. Mary’s University. I decided to begin working towards my bachelor’s degree in Management. Priesthood was still on my mind, but I was not ready to go to the seminary. Father Scott and I met regularly. I enjoyed my business classes and my whole college experience a lot. Though, during my second semester, I felt like I needed to give the priesthood a chance. The summer after I graduated, I met Blayne Riley (now Father Blayne,) who was staying at St. Jerome for the summer. He had kept in touch with me, as I had shared with him that I was discerning. I had met him one day to talk, after having a lot of stress with school work and the thought of my discernment. He showed me around the seminary and introduced me to the Vocations Office. Soon after that, I found myself talking with the Vocations director. The new opportunity of the Discernment House was presented to me and I began to make plans to make a transition from a business student at St. Mary’s to a pastoral ministry student and Seminarian at UIW. I spent a semester in the Discernment House, and I about to begin a second semester as a seminarian. It is so hard to believe how far I have come in this journey.
The seminary experience has been very great for me because I have had many opportunities to experience life within a parish in a whole new light. I have stayed in parish rectories and worked in the office. This summer, being an intern in the Chancery has been an absolute blessing. I have been able to see how the archdiocese works as a whole and how I can use the resources in those offices, if I am ordained. Being able to visit different parishes and meet different pastors, seeing the different offices and how they run, working with the secretariats and seeing their roles, and just having the experience within the heart of the archdiocese has been great. I have learned so much that I can use, along with my previous experiences, in order to hopefully bear fruit in my future ministry.