Called by name

I am pleased to announce that we have a new seminarian enrolling the fall. Mr. Richard Martin, Jr. (EJ) has been accepted to study for the priesthood for the Diocese of Jackson and will be enrolling at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans this August. EJ grew up at St. Richard Catholic Church and attended St. Richard and St. Joseph Catholic Schools. After graduating from Spring Hill College in Mobile, EJ was working in Austin, Texas, but discerned that the Diocese of Jackson is where he is called to continue his discernment.

It has been a great gift to walk with EJ, who I had met a few times here and there as he came home to visit family when I was the parochial vicar at St. Richard. I have gotten to know him much better over the past year or so as we have embarked on a ‘pre-discernment’ process which has led him to this point. Our application process for the priestly formation program in the diocese is very involved, but it helps the applicant, and the church, decide whether or not the diocesan seminary is the right place for formal discernment.

One of the aspects of the process which is particularly helpful is the vocations board. This is a group of parishioners from around the diocese (mostly the Jackson area) that agree to meet with an applicant after he has met all the other ‘objective’ requirements for admission. As the vocation director, I provide them with a review of the application process, and then every applicant meets speaks with them about his journey so far. The Board is then invited to ask any questions of the applicant, and of me, about the process and to discuss frankly whether seminary is the right choice for that man. This is a great opportunity for the church to speak with men who, God-willing, will be future priests, and it also gives me perspectives that are extremely valuable which are brought to the Bishop as he decides whether each applicant is a good fit for seminary formation.

I believe God is calling many more men to the seminary than are currently in the seminary, but we almost must be prudent, patient and collaborative in this process. I am so pleased that we have accepted another excellent applicant to study for the priesthood. When we as a church send a man off to seminary, we simply can’t predict whether the Lord will call him ‘all the way’ to the priesthood, but we can do our best to ensure that he is a position spiritually, personally and emotionally to thrive in the seminary program, and whether or not he reaches ordination, he will be an great asset and continue to build up the Kingdom of God in the Diocese of Jackson.

Please keep EJ in your prayers as he embarks on this next step, I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for him, and I know he’ll be a great asset to our excellent group of seminarians!

– Father Nick Adam

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