The following comes from an Oct. 18 article by Alvin Yu which is part of a series appearing in Catholic San Francisco.
I was born and raised in San Francisco. My home parish is Sts. Peter and Paul Church, where I also went to elementary school. I attended Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory and did my undergraduate studies at San Francisco State University. After finishing college, I entered Saint Patrick’s Seminary & University, where I am currently in my second year of theological studies studying for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Reflecting on my journey toward entering the seminary and studying for the priesthood, I did not have a Damascus moment where God dramatically and unexpectedly called me to become a priest. Instead, my journey was one where God has gradually fostered my vocation through the different people and circumstances in my life.
I was blessed to have had a solid Catholic upbringing at home. I was raised in a devout Catholic family. My family and I always went to Mass together every Sunday, on holy days of obligation and during the Easter triduum. My grandmother, who took care of my younger brother and me when my parents were working, taught the two of us the basics of the faith. She taught us some basic catechism, showed us how to pray and to make the sign of the cross, and made sure that we would pray before meals and before going to bed. My grandmother instilled in me a great devotion to the holy Mass and to Our Lady. Even today when I talk to her on the phone, she always reminds to pray the Mass devoutly and to keep up a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother.
The parish environment at Sts. Peter and Paul, made up of the church, the school and the Salesian Boys’ and Girls’ Club, also played a huge role in fostering my vocation. The Salesian Sisters provided us students with a solid religious education, as they were women who were full of love and joy. Serving as altar boy, and having that close contact with the priests at the parish, I was attracted to their example of holiness and piety.
The late Salesian Father John Malloy was of particular inspiration for me. As a high school freshman unfamiliar with the church’s moral teachings and growing up in an increasingly secular culture that saw the mayor at the time (Gavin Newsom) first issue same-sex marriage licenses, it was Father Malloy’s work in the area of defending life and traditional marriage that provided me a moral compass as to how to live a solid Christian life. And I was drawn to Father Malloy’s message precisely because it was not a message of hate or condemnation, but one of love as he never lacked charity and humility. So when most kids at a young age say they want to be an astronaut, firefighter or a baseball player, I told people that I wanted to become a priest.
During my college years, with the help of good priests who challenged me, I continued to pursue those thoughts of priesthood. I attended vocations retreats and also discerned religious life. With the help of a spiritual director and the vocations director I applied to study at the seminary during my final year at San Francisco State, and entered the seminary in August 2012….
My advice for anyone who is discerning their vocation is to be open and attentive to the many different ways that God can be calling us. Coming to know God’s will for us requires that we foster a relationship with him. I recommend spending some time in quiet prayer, perhaps going before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, frequenting the sacrament of penance, going to daily Mass and having a devotion to the Blessed Mother who always cares for us and leads us to her son.
I am also reminded by what Bishop Tom Daly of San Jose warned against at a vocations retreat. He said that men and women should watch out for the danger of becoming a perpetual Internet discerner. I recommend finding a good spiritual director and contacting the vocations director, who are people who can be of assistance in fostering a prayer life, and be of guidance toward realizing what is God’s will.
To read the original article, click here.