The Program of Priestly Formation lists the role of a diocesan vocation director as one who both promotes vocation awareness, as well as one who guides those who are discerning a vocation.
For those who have made contact with the Vocation Office and have begun the joyful yet challenging process of discernment, similar questions usually arise from their mind and heart. “Father, what are the other seminarians of our diocese like? Is my story the same as theirs? What is the background of a typical seminarian?”
At this point I love to tell the discerner the backgrounds of our seminarians for the Diocese of Buffalo. It is a colorful and varied history of men listening to God’s call, and men having the courage to answer that call.
The 22 seminarians studying for the priesthood for our diocese attend either Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora or St. Mark College Seminary in Erie, Pa. They vary in age from 20 to 53 years old.
Some of them acknowledged God’s call while they were in high school and entered the college seminary program when they were 18. Others completed college and upon graduation entered the graduate program of Christ the King Seminary when they were 22.
Still others heard God’s call while in the midst of a career, a career that they were happy with and successful at, and left that career while in their 30s, 40s or 50s to enter the Program of Priestly Formation in East Aurora. God does call at different times in our life. The seminarians were more attentive to respond as that call became clearer in their minds and hearts.
Many of our seminarians come to the formation program with valuable work and education experiences. One seminarian has a doctorate from UCLA. Another has a commission from the U.S. Naval Academy. Another has a law degree and practiced as a lawyer.
Two seminarians have degrees in sports management. One was a teacher in Japan and one has a degree in carpentry. Each of these seminarians brings valuable life experiences of dealing with the joys and challenges of family and friends. Some of the seminarians are an only child while others have many siblings.
Some of our seminarians have familiar hometowns, such as Batavia, West Seneca, Arcade, Tonawanda and Buffalo. Others list a hometown as Ropczyce, Poland; Enugu, Nigeria; and Pittsburgh. Some of our seminarians possess talent playing the organ, the piano and bagpipes. Others are gifted in technology and computers. Others have coached sports teams and train regularly.