“I was born in King’s Daughters Hospital in Greenville, Mississippi on the Feast of Our Lady of Victory(the Rosary). In the same hospital as Jim Henson who created Kermit the Frog. I was born into a family heritage composed of German, French, English, Sicilian, Mexican, Scotch-Irish and Choctaw. With ancestors ranging from Native Americans, to German indentured servants immigrating to the colonies in the 1740’s, to a 20th century Mexican immigrant, my family covers all of what makes America.
I am the first son of my parents, both whom are the oldest of their siblings, and I have one brother who is ten years younger than me. I grew up attending Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Greenville and attended Our Lady of Lourdes Elementary School and then St. Joseph High School until my family moved to Fort Walton Beach, Forida, where I spent the last three years of high school at Choctawhatchee High School in Ft. Walton. I graduated in 2005, started college and then moved back to Greenville where I would attend college at Mississippi Delta Community College. I graduated from nursing school at MDCC as a Registered Nurse in 2010 and worked at Delta Regional Medical Center in the Cardiovascular ICU until entering seminary for the diocese.”
St. Joseph, Greenville.
Favorite Saints and why?
St. Augustine, because he was not perfect and he had a past which Christ Jesus rescued him from certain destruction. He is a good model for those who give themselves to God and work it out each day with hope.
Mother Mary, she is so loving and helpful to all of her children, making herself known to us all throughout the ages in our local circumstances. She is eternally glorifying God by pointing us towards her Son and reminding us of Christ Jesus’ love for us. St. Benedict, devoted and well-ordered. He founded monasticism which has given the world so much and his brother monks gave me so much to me in my time at St. Joseph Seminary College which is run by Benedictine monks.
St Patrick has always been inspiring as he was a missionary, he overcame so much, and he was so beloved by the Irish priests in my parish who loved me so much and gave me such good examples. He found ordinary ways of teaching great mysteries to those whom he ministered, something I´ve taken a cue from.
St. Mark, my confirmation saint who I picked because I thought I was being lazy. He was an evangelist, he ministered in the Nile Delta city of Alexandria. He stayed close to St. Peter and wrote what he heard. His Gospel shows in great brevity and hurriedness the Lord’s desire to cast out demons with the presence of the Word Incarnate. I hope to preach and heal with this closeness to the Lord and the Church.
Do you have a favorite devotion, religious image or prayer and why?
I am mesmerized by the icon of Our Lady of Bethlehem which I was able to see firsthand when I visited the Holy Land last year. She is so beautifully adorned, wife and mother, watching over her children. Pray for peace in the Holy Land and for persecuted Christians.
I love to move between the Sacred Heart and Good Shepherd image of our Lord as he guides me and gives me the greatest example of what I am to be.
I ponder the wounds of Jesus’ feet, and the place where his side was pierced. I reverence these wounds of Our Lord and I pray with them very regularly.
Who vested you at ordination and why?
Msgr. Patrick Farrell, who was my first parish priest and who baptized me as a baby. I loved him so dearly when I was growing up. I used to process out with him and I wanted to be the first to hug him on Sunday mornings. I want to thank him for his priestly ministry by having him vest me. There is a part of the baptismal rite where the minister speaks to the child and claims him or her for Christ our Savior with a sign of the cross, an eternal action upon a soul. As he claimed me for Christ Jesus and clothed me in the white baptismal garment of salvation, I see it most proper that he should further vest me in the garments of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Do you have any hobbies?
I like to cook. Baking, grilling, working a stovetop, I enjoy it all. I enjoy seeing the enjoyment of those for whom I cook for. I’ve played golf since I was two, I enjoy my annual dove hunt with my good friends, and I really enjoy gardening. Planting things, digging up stuff, stoppin on the roadside to dig up heirloom plants from old homesites, I love good dirt, really because I’m from The Delta.
In what parishes have you served?
Our Lady of Victories, Cleveland; St. Joseph Starkville, and St. Dominic Hospital.
Can you tell me a little about your vocation story?
I’d thought about priesthood since third grade and been encouraged by teachers, priests, sisters and parishioners. It was always in my head through elementary, high school, and college despite me not actively pursuing it.
I was working one night in the hospital on an elderly man and I thought of St. Mother Teresa and Father Richard Ho Lung. I’d seen the work of his order on EWTN. I had a profound thought of, ‘What is their motivation for doing their work,’ which was much like my own in the hospital? I worked up the courage to reach out to Father Kent Bowlds who met with me regularly for about a year to help me see where the Lord was leading me. The motivation I was looking for that night in the hospital, it was Love. The love and mercy God has for us all and how we are called to be his hands and feet to bring that love to all people
Can you share something about yourself people may not know?
I was my high school mascot, and I taught myself how to sew in order to make my costume.
I also carry a shovel and green boots in my car, so that nothing will stop me from bad weather or an interesting plant on the roadside.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Talk to someone! Prayer is more than essential and there are people who need you. Religious sisters, Brothers, Priests, Deacons, there are people in our parishes who need you and Mississippi needs the witness of good Catholic Priests to bring the Gospel to the world through Christ in the sacraments.
Is there one part of priesthood in particular you are looking forward to?
What are you looking forward to about your first parish assignment?
It›s going to be exciting to say the Mass for people and lead them to God. I›m also looking forward to blessing people and the things that pertain to their lives (fields, homes, etc.). I am particularly excited about the Sacrament of Reconciliation, bringing people back to God who loves them despite their faults and desires to be with them in every aspect of their lives. The loving and merciful heart of God, poured out for us through Confession is what I’m looking forward to.