Called by Name

Back on Memorial Day I took a trip down the Pearl River in a kayak with Will Foggo and Joe Pearson. It was a very memorable trip for several reasons: 1) There was absolutely no current going downriver, so it basically became a 10.4-mile trip across a big lake! 2) We almost had enough equipment. We had three kayaks, but only two kayak paddles, the third paddle we had was really for a canoe; and 3) we got a bit of a late start, and ended up getting to our exit-point well after dark.

Father Nick Adam

Going into the trek we knew that we were in for some unexpected turbulence, that’s just the way it goes when you are in a group, and you are dealing with mother nature. The journey through seminary is comparable in some ways to that trip down the Pearl: both demand that you remain aware of your surroundings, rely on other people for help and support, and have a great attitude so you can truly ‘enjoy the ride,’ even when it’s a little unpleasant for various reasons.

I remember the first time I walked onto the campus of a seminary I was blown away by the number of chapels there were. It seemed that no matter where I might live on campus, a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reposed in a a tabernacle was just a short walk away. Everything also seemed so ‘ordered.’ The seminarians would walk dutifully in packs from class to class, to the church for Mass, or to the refectory for meals. The structure in seminary helps men to form good habits of prayer, study, fraternity and service, but that structure is not meant to be an end in itself.

I always tell our seminarians that if they are being called to be a priest in the Diocese of Jackson, then they are called to be malleable. They should be willing to step up and make adjustments to their schedule according to the needs of God’s people. When Will and Joe and I started down the river: it seemed like we were just going along with the flow. Everything was in order. But then we realized how slow the current was, and how much trash was in the river (truly, a disturbing amount), and that we might not be getting in until after dark. We had to be willing to re-frame our expectations and make the best of it, to have a great attitude and ‘enjoy the ride.’

I read recently that one should pray about the challenges, doubts and trials that are coming in our life, rather than to only pray about the ones that we currently have or the aftermath of a certain situation. I think that is a very wise posture of prayer for a seminarian. A seminarian studying for the Diocese of Jackson, or for the diocesan priesthood in general, should pray for the grace to remain calm in the midst of great change or challenge. That way, when faced with this during his priesthood, he won’t be dismayed or think something is ‘wrong,’ rather, he’ll expect that the Lord will give him the grace he needs to keep going, and ‘enjoy the ride.’

Father Nick Adam, vocation director

(Father Nick Adam can be contacted at