In preparation for our Homegrown Harvest Gala in the fall, which will benefit the Diocese of Jackson Office of Vocations, over the next several weeks we will feature a Q&A with one of our seminarians. This week, meet Tristan Stovall who is entering his first year of formation.
Home parish: Holy Cross Philadelphia
Background: I was born and raised in the red clay hills of Neshoba county.
What is your vocation story? I was raised a Baptist. My first memory of Catholicism is seeing the funeral of Pope St. John Paul II on television. At the time I was awestruck by all the proceedings. I had so many questions about what was happening and who this man was for whom the whole world was coming to a halt. I became more and more interested as I grew up. When I was 15, I went to Mass for the first time at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. I knew then that I had to become a Catholic. At the Easter Vigil in 2014 I was received into full communion with the church.
I have always had a deep desire to dedicate my life entirely to God. This desire was present for as long as I can remember. Entering into the sacramental life of the church changed my life. I began attending daily Mass and frequenting the sacrament of penance.
The example of the saints was very influential in my pursuing a vocation to the priesthood. St. Catherine of Siena has always exercised an influence over me. Seeing her example of total dedication has constantly inspired me to give myself entirely to the service of Jesus Christ and His Bride, the church. I hope one day to receive the call to Holy Orders and to be entirely dedicated to the service of the church.
What draws you to diocesan priesthood?
The care of souls is what draws me to the diocesan priesthood. The care of souls means that the primary responsibility of the diocesan priest is to work for the salvation of those souls who are entrusted to his care. I believe that this is the specific ministry to which the Lord is calling me. This ministry is specific to the diocesan priest. I discerned the religious life for a while, but ultimately came to see that that was not what the Lord was asking me to do.
What are your hobbies/interests? I enjoy playing the piano. I also very much enjoy reading and traveling.
Who is your favorite saint and why?
My favorite saint is Catherine of Siena. I love her because she has been a friend to me in my discernment. She is a “no-nonsense” sort of person. She was at once extremely joyful and serious. I think St. Catherine represents the divine humor which we so often miss in our faith. This 20-something-year-old, illiterate Italian girl was not afraid to confront the world’s most powerful people in order to carry out Christ’s work. Her life was profoundly ecclesial, she was focused on being faithful and ensuring the unity of the church, for which Christ prayed.
Do you have a favorite devotion?
My favorite devotion is lectio divina, which is the prayerful reading of the Word of God. I am drawn to this devotion because it brings me to a deeper knowledge of Christ.
What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? I was once part of a Southern rock band.
Who is your favorite sports team?
If my answer to this question was not “the LSU Tigers” my family would disown me.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a seminarian? And the most challenging?
The most rewarding part of being a seminarian has been coming to a deeper knowledge of the faith. To know God is to love Him. I have experienced this concretely in my life throughout my years of seminary formation.
What advice do you have for those discerning a vocation?
Don’t be afraid to give it a try. You have nothing to lose. You can’t discover whether or not you have a vocation until you try it out.