It’s hard to believe we have celebrated All Saints, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, and now find ourselves at Advent. Recently, three of our seminarians, Eric, Julian and Alex, received Admission to Candidacy. They did so on November 20th at Holy Mass. Each candidate petitions their bishop in writing, expressing their desire to continue their studies for the Holy Priesthood and ultimately priestly ordination. Please continue to pray for all our seminarians.
Additionally, I’d like to thank the members of our diocesan family and my brother priests who have supported our seminarians through our Advent gift card program. It is vital that we financially assist them through the academic year. Because of COVID-19, this year’s gift card program is especially appreciated. Each of the men are scheduled to meet with Bishop Cote this Advent and Christmas season and we will also share a Christmas luncheon together with him.
Below is Mark Johnson’s reflection. I had the honor of watching Mark as a student at UCONN and was especially impressed with the man he is and the priest he could become. Please let him tell you the rest.
Studying philosophy for my second year at Mount St. Mary Seminary, I am expected to enter theological studies next year and ultimately to be ordained in 2025.
Spending my whole life in the Diocese of Norwich, I grew up in Tolland and received all of my sacraments at St. Joseph Church in Rockville. I treasured my Catholic faith as a child, joining the Children of Mary in third grade and the altar servers in fifth. Curious about the sciences, I aspired to become a chemist in sixth grade, working fervently in my quest to understand how the world works.
Ultimately, after falling intellectually into an anti-religious atheism (though not giving up the bare practices thanks to my mother), it was with this curiosity about the world and the desire to firmly understand it that I began to discover the rationality of God, Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. It was during the years surrounding Confirmation. From that point, I began to live as a Catholic set on fire with love for the Faith.
In my last summer before graduating college, I was a research intern at UCSB. Living on my own for the first time, prayer and the sacraments took high priority in my daily schedule. I had had thoughts about the priesthood sporadically starting from junior year of high school thanks to reading To Save a Thousand Souls and recognizing the Pauline Fathers’ great example at my parish, but it was in the humdrum days of performing reactions and collecting data for hours on end that these thoughts became daily and insuppressible. Ultimately choosing God over my childhood dream, I graduated from UConn with a B.S. in chemistry and a B.S. in physics and turned down five Ph.D. programs to attend Mount St. Mary Seminary.
Although I was initially wary of philosophy, I have come to enjoy it immensely, even to the point where I am working on a Master’s thesis about the philosophy of quantum physics. Through this philosophical study and the spiritual formation given to us, I have grown to have a profoundly deeper understanding of God and His love for us, especially through the Eucharist and His priests.
I am truly blessed to be here and to be able to grow as close to the Lord as I have over the past year of formation, and I thank all of you for your continued prayers and support.
- Mr. Mark Johnson