I am a seminarian for the Diocese of Motherwell in Scotland. My vocation story begins many years ago. I believed I had a vocation to the priesthood from a very young age and so asked to go to junior seminary at the age of twelve. However, my Bishop, decided I should wait until I completed my secondary school education. I subsequently went for 5 years to my local secondary school. During this time I continued to attend mass and took part in several different types of prayer and worship, including weekly Benediction, a prayer group and altar serving.
I did go to seminary at the end of my school education when I was 17 years old. The Seminary was in the Scottish Borders. After completing two years of study at the seminary as I had gone there straight from school I had to undertake a year away. I went to work at a hospital caring for children and adults with disabilities. During that year I decided that I no longer believed I had a vocation to become a priest. I was fortunate to be accepted to undertake a three year training course to become a nurse. After training I had a career in nursing and for many years worked as a manager in the Health Service.
Approximately 6 years ago I began to strongly feel that I may indeed have a vocation to the priesthood. But I have to say that up until 7 years ago, I probably wasn’t living the response to God that I should have been. I wasn’t listening to Him and my relationship and faith in Jesus wasn’t as strong as it needs to be. Thankfully I did start to listen to God and build-up my relationship with Jesus again through prayer. Through the power of the Holy Spirit I once again heard God calling me again to be his priest.
I began the process of discernment more closely. I took part in a series of weekends away where I met other guys who believed they also had a vocation to be a priest. We discussed our individual journeys with each other and with priests and so continued to discern the call.
In 2015 I met with my Bishop and after further prayer and listening to God it was agreed I should come to St Mary’s College, Oscott. I am undertaking a 4-year course, and have almost completed my 3rd Year of this.
To help me discover what it was that God was asking of me an opportunity arose for me to go to Lourdes with HCPT to help serve disabled and disadvantaged children and young adults. Not knowing at the time, but this was to be the moment of a truly beautiful encounter of God. After a week full of joy and love for others, the boy I was looking after simply smiled at me and then in sign language made the sign for love and pointed at me. My heart sank, I felt as if the clouds opened and God pointed at me saying “you”. Within that and sitting at the blessed Grotto, I made a promise that whatever I did, I would do something to help others and make that the priority in my life. This week in Lourdes set my heart on fire with the love of God and I decided to do a gap year at Walsingham House, the same place that I had once visited.
To cut a very long story short I ended up working at Walsingham House for 7 years. During this time I prayed with young people, shared my faith story and taught the faith to those who I met. I loved it. It was during this time that priesthood came back into my thoughts, my prayer and young people were the ones who kept saying to me, “you’d be a well good priest, you should do it!” I kept battering it away thinking, “I couldn’t do that” but after discussion with priests and spending time in Lourdes at the Grotto I started to realise that it was something that I was being called to do.
As I returned to Lourdes in 2014 at Easter I was going through a difficult time in my life and I was angry with a God. I remember sitting at the Grotto and shouting at Mary “how dare you do this to me, you fix it!” As I left I put everything into the Blessed Mother’s hands and gave it over. As I came home, things resolved and I was back that summer in Lourdes once again. After discerning for a few years the moment of realisation finally came. During communion the choir were singing “Do not be afraid I am with you, I have called you each by name. Come and follow Me, I will bring you home. I love you and you are mine.” As I looked up at the statue of Mary I remember feeling so happy and I said in my heart “ok, I will do it”. I said my “yes” and I couldn’t quite believe it. I spoke to a priest and told him that I was going to apply for the Brentwood Diocese and I burst into tears. It was such a huge moment for me but one that I never look back on. Since that moment of letting go of my worries and allowing God to guide me, I have felt such joy and each day I ask the Lord to guide me as I continue to discern my vocation and what God is asking of me.