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Archives Taking first steps towards the seminary

April 18, 2018

By Tyler Fitzgerald
Seminary candidate

When asked to give my vocation story, I’m often conflicted about where to begin. After reading and hearing Tyler Fitzgeraldother vocation stories, I realized that everyone’s is different. Mine isn’t very exciting mainly due to the fact that I’ve always known I wanted to be a priest.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the priesthood. After my parents and I moved back to New York, we attended Church of The Visitation. Msgr. Robillard, although retired, was still active in the parish and we instantly became fond of each other.

He was an excellent priest and a humble, compassionate man. I also remember he would show me his vestments, and I specifically being intrigued by his chasuble. This is what made my interest in priesthood click.

Granted I had no idea what priests did besides “dress up” and talk to people but I still remember how fascinating I found it.

From this moment on, my mentality was along the lines of “being a priest would be neat.” Thus the beginning of my vocation story.

We left Church of The Visitation and started going to St. John’s in Madrid where I began First Communion class.
After I made my First Communion, I began altar serving. I remember being quite scared the first few months, but after much practice I realized serving was something I enjoyed and looked forward to.

As I got older, I had an increasing interest in the Extraordinary Form Mass. The silence and reverence of this form instantly attracted me.

Ironically, Father Howard  Venette , pastor of St. Mary’s in Potsdam at the time, asked me after Mass one Sunday if I had ever been to an Extraordinary Form Mass. I told him my interest in it and he invited me to one he was saying the following Sunday.

This was the Mass that would change how I saw my vocation. This was around the time I began realizing the priesthood was much more than putting on vestments and preaching.

After I began to consider priesthood on a much more serious level, I started serving more frequently. I signed up to serve for every holy day and special Mass I could, and volunteered to serve funerals. Every aspect of serving at Mass attracts me. Being so involved with the liturgy has sparked a passion for it.

More and more aspects of priesthood began to appeal to me. Being able to offer the sacraments and bring others closer to Christ is what really started to draw me in.

With the idea of being a priest becoming more real, I started attending discernment groups meetings in Potsdam and, more recently, Canton.

(I highly recommend any other high school man discerning to attend these meetings. They’re very informative and great to discuss any questions you may have.)

I had the opportunity to visit The Pontifical College Josephinum last December  where I was able to learn more about seminary itself. I met other seminarians, faculty and got to know our seminarians a little better. By the time I left, I knew I was on the right path.

I kept discerning and praying for my vocation, but nothing exciting or major occurred. The biggest and most recent events have taken place this past year. In June, Father Douglas Lucia, diocesan vocation director, was assigned to Madrid which was a true blessing.

This past December, I traveled with Father  Lucia and another discerner to The Josephinum. This trip was different from the first one but yet very beneficial.

On this trip, I asked more questions about the academics and figured out smaller questions I had about seminary life.

I spent a great deal of time praying and contemplating God’s plan. By then, I knew for certain this was going somewhere.

I submitted my Diocese of Ogdensburg application knowing I was making one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

Some advice I would give to any fellow discerners would be to not be afraid to take the leap. If you feel God is calling you to the priesthood, find others who feel the same, contact the Vocations Department or ask other priests for their story.

Also, don’t get discouraged when things seem stagnant. If God is calling you, he will make it happen.

Please pray for me.

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