Called by Name

“71% of newly ordained priests were personally invited to consider this call by their parish priest.” This is according to a 2022 study released by CARA, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University (and cited by Brendan Hodge in his Nov. 20 article on – “On vocations, asking is key.”

I know that it can be challenging to ask. It is easy to think that someone who seems like a good candidate for priesthood has already been ‘bugged about it’ by someone else. It can be tempting to think that our voice won’t make a difference, or we can fall into the trap of thinking that it won’t make a difference whether we say something or not. But 71% of newly ordained priests were personally invited to consider this call by their parish priest. I was personally invited to consider a call to the priesthood by my parish priest in Meridian.

Father Nick Adam

I was working full-time and attending Mass regularly. I was getting more involved in the parish, and I was seriously considering whether the Lord was calling me to be a priest, but I was terrified to say it out loud!

When you are considering priesthood it can be very isolating. We don’t know what we don’t know, and so to have my pastor bring it up to me was very freeing. I was thinking privately there is no way I am good enough to be a priest! But once he affirmed that he saw traits within me that would make for a good priest, it was very helpful. I realize now that the Lord qualifies the called, he doesn’t call the qualified. No one, after all, is worthy in themselves to minister at the altar, but the Lord doesn’t demand perfection, he demands faithfulness and perseverance.

So, we need to help those who are called by calling them forth. And pastors of parishes are some of the most effective ‘callers’ in the world. When our spiritual fathers encourage us to do things that we might be fearful or doubtful about, we can receive new strength and encouragement to do what otherwise seems impossible.

Please encourage your pastors to be on the lookout for men in your parish who would make excellent priests. Don’t be shy about pointing out specific folks in the pews and telling your pastor to be on the lookout and to encourage them to think about it. Remember, also, that we need men who would make excellent husbands and fathers to think about priesthood and take that possibility seriously. Diocesan priesthood is not for the faint of heart, and it is not for those who pick it as a ‘back up plan.’ The call to priesthood or religious life should be a priority for all young people in the church, and pastors of parishes can play a big role in setting that tone for their parishioners.

So, please encourage your pastors to encourage the great young men in your parish to consider the priesthood.

                                                                                                               Father Nick Adam, vocation director

(Read about our current seminarians and their inspirational vocation stories at Father Nick Adam can be contacted at

Called by Name

If we expect young people to discover God’s will for them then we must teach them how to speak with Jesus in times of silent prayer. In order to prepare ourselves for regular conversation with the Lord where he can speak to us, we need to answer a few questions.

When? This is often the question we struggle to answer the most I think, or at least we struggle to answer it with consistency. The key is to pick a time and stick to it. The morning is typically the best time because the day hasn’t started yet, and we don’t have a thousand issues running through our heads. If you are like me and you are not a morning person, that doesn’t mean you can’t pray in the morning, it just means you might pray a little later than others do, and that’s ok! Just pick a time that’s realistic for you with your schedule and stick to it!

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

Where? Another question that we can struggle to answer or to have consistency with. It is vital to have a space that is set apart in order to spend time in prayer. This doesn’t have to be your local parish or adoration chapel, but that would be a great place to choose. The key is that it needs to be a quiet space and anything in the room needs to help you bring your mind to God (icons, crucifix, etc.) rather than staying in the things of the world (computer screen, music, etc.). It may be tempting to play ‘mood music,’ but I wouldn’t, even sacred music like chant. We need to learn that being in silence is ok, and though it feels that we are alone, we aren’t – the Lord is here to meet us.

How? Here’s my starter kit – your Bible, a journal and 20 minutes. Read a passage from Scripture slowly, then read it slowly one more time. What word, phrase, action of a character, etc. sticks out to you. (Example: I’m reading about the storm at sea and the fear of the apostles sicks out to me) – talk to Jesus about why that word, phrase, action, etc. is affecting you. Talk to Jesus for about five minutes, or until you’ve said all you want to say. Then allow the silence to come back into your heart and wait for the Lord to respond. Sometimes he responds with a feeling or a thought that bubbles up, sometimes you’ll feel nothing, but this is all about consistency. It is about allowing God the space to act in your life. After your time of silence, write in your journal what you spoke to Jesus about and what you think he said back to you.

Please share this article with a young person in your life and encourage them to enter into daily prayer and encourage them by your own example of daily prayer.

                                            – Father Nick Adam, vocation director

(Read about our current seminarians and their inspirational vocation stories at Father Nick Adam can be contacted at

Called by Name

In early November , I spent a few hours speaking to some of the senior theology classes at St. Joseph School in Madison. I spoke with the students much more about prayer than I have in the past. Many people want to do God’s will, but they don’t know how to discover God’s will.

We can only understand what our call from God is, in an affirmative way, if we come to the Lord in silent prayer and develop a relationship with him. Pope Benedict XVI said that ‘young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.’ What a powerful statement! But it is true! Once we understand how to enter into a living dialogue with the Lord, then he can speak to us and we can speak back to Him. One of the first steps of entering into deeper prayer is understanding who we are in Christ. In other words, who we are as baptized Christians and members of the church.

Through our baptism we are given an exalted position before the Lord. We are made sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. Like any good father, the Lord wants to help guide us along our way. He wants to see us reach our full potential, and he wants to support us as we strive to reach that potential. But many people struggle to experience a true, living relationship with God. This is why it is so important that we are rooted in a relationship with Jesus Christ. It is only in Christ that we are sons and daughters of the Father, and so it is in Christ that we can form a relationship with the Holy Trinity.

Our confirmation seals us in the grace of our baptism, and is another way that God generously pours forth grace into our hearts as the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit are made manifested in our acts of virtue. With the frequent reception of communion and regular visits to reconciliation, we are well on our way to deepening our relationship with the Lord.

But personal prayer is a must if we are going to discover God’s will for us. When we enter into prayer we have to enter into silence. We live in a world full of distractions, and so to step away from those distractions is our first step in prioritizing God above all things. The Scriptures are a powerful well-spring of prayer. When we read the Word of God, we begin to realize that we are not alone. Faithful people throughout the ages have struggled with their relationship with God, and with others, and this is related again and again in the Scriptures. In our next issue I will discuss how we pray with the Scriptures. Please share this article with a young person in your life and encourage them to develop a life of personal prayer.

– Father Nick Adam, vocation director

(Read about our current seminarians and their inspirational vocation stories at Father Nick Adam can be contacted at

Called by Name

Father Nick Adam

Our 4th Annual Homegrown Harvest Festival is in the books, but the work of calling forth men to the priesthood from our parishes continues. One of the most encouraging parts of the evening for me at St. Paul Flowood was the mixture of longtime vocation supporters and new faces that were there.
The vision that we had for this event starting in 2020 was to bring together vocation supporters to encourage one another. It is difficult to consistently ask young men to consider the priesthood. It is difficult to look toward the future when the present has so many needs of its own. But the Lord tells us to ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest, and so we must keep encouraging one another and trusting that the Lord will bring forth good men to serve us in our parishes and schools.

The most encouraging part of this event has become the presentation by our seminarians. This year I asked Deacon Tristan to share a little bit about his experience in over six years of seminary formation. I gave him little to no warning that he would be speaking in front of the whole crowd, but he did a wonderful job! He even asked Grayson Foley to add his own experience as a younger seminarian and both of them were so filled with enthusiasm that it was infectious.

This is the whole point of the Homegrown Harvest event. Yes, we need the money in order to send these guys to school, but we also need to encourage one another and see that formation works. Grayson and Deacon Tristan will both be wonderful leaders in our church for years to come, and that is what all the money and the planning and the prayers are for.

Grayson and Deacon Tristan are also inspiring other young people to consider their own calls from the Lord. There were a few discerners in the crowd at the Mass and the event, and I was so happy to see our seminarians interacting with them and encouraging them. I also enjoyed a late-night Waffle House visit with the seminarians and a few young adults who have continued to be in friendship with our seminarians and young priests. This is the type of culture that brings forth men and women to consider giving their lives to the Lord.

Thank you to everyone who made this event a success and thank you for your support of the Department of Vocations as we ask the Lord for strength and endurance to continue our work.

— Father Nick Adam

FLOWOOD – Pictures from the Jackson Seminarian Homegrown Harvest on Saturday, Oct. 21 in the Family Life Center at St. Paul parish in Flowood. Below, Deacon Tristan Stovall speaks to those in attendance on his experience as as seminarian. (Photos by Joanna Puddister King)

(L-R) Will Fogo, EJ Martin, Bishop Joseph Kopacz, deacon Tristan Stovall, Willson Locke and Franciaco Maldonado.

Called by Name

We continue to ask ‘the master of the harvest to bring forth laborers for his harvest.’ Since 2020, we have put forth a vision for a Homegrown Harvest, where men from this diocese step forward to study for the priesthood and become pastors in our parishes and schools. So many incredible missionaries have served us throughout the years, but we continue to need more men from our diocese to serve.

Father Nick Adam

In October 2020, we hosted the first ever Homegrown Harvest Festival and Fundraiser for seminary education. Over the past three years this event has grown and we raised over $150,000 last year alone. The 4th Annual Homegrown Harvest will be held on Oct. 21 at St. Paul parish in Flowood. I will be celebrating the vigil mass that evening sat St. Paul’s and the seminarians will be altar serving and serving as lectors and eucharistic ministers. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m., and there will be a fantastic meal, a silent auction, a raffle and much more. Most importantly, the seminarians will be present and will get to thank each participant and supporter for helping them to discern God’s will.

It is not easy to be a priest, and it is difficult to step out and do something that is very different than the mainstream. Each of our seven seminarians has an inspiring story about how the Lord, and the people of God, encouraged them to think about the priesthood and how they finally decided to take the step of going to the seminary. But the road is long, and these men need our prayers and support. Jesus tells his disciples: “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” (Matthew 9:38)

It can be easy to forget to pray for vocations, and it is tempting to sometimes think that our prayers won’t make a difference, but Jesus says that we should ask the Lord for help! So please pray for vocations today and ask the Lord to help you keep an eye out for someone in your parish who you can give an encouraging word to. I probably would have stayed silent about my desire for the priesthood if someone had not encouraged me to think about being a priest – you never know how the Lord may work through you if you are courageous and speak up.

Please join us later this month and support our seminarians by buying tickets or sponsoring the event. But the greatest gift you can give the Department of Vocations is your prayers and your encouragement to young men in our parishes to think about priesthood! The best and brightest should think about priesthood just as they consider other great options in their life. Encourage the young men in your parishes to prioritize priesthood and consider the possibility that they may be called to the altar to serve.

                                            – Father Nick Adam, vocation director

Read about our current seminarians and their inspirational vocation stories at

Tickets and sponsorships are still available for the Homegrown Harvest event! Visit or email Father Nick Adam at to support our seminarians.

Called by Name

New posters are coming soon! Each year I’m excited to publish a new seminarian poster with the happy faces of our current seminarians. I love to see how guys ‘move up the ranks.’ For example, in 2020 and 2021, Grayson Foley was in the last spot on the poster and now he’s fourth in line (almost on the top row!) as he continues to progress through the program. Will Foggo is now second on the list, and it seemed like yesterday that he was second to last! It’s also fun to see when guys get their ‘collar.’ Deacon Tristan Stovall spent three years on the poster collar-less, but now he’s been wearing his roman collar for years as he makes the final approach to priestly ordination.

Father Nick Adam

  One of the biggest changes this year is the way that the ‘classes’ are listed on the poster. In years past, we designated the seminarians according to their academic standing. A seminarian listed as 2nd Philosophy meant that he was in his second year of philosophy studies. But the US Bishops recently approved a new Program for Priestly Formation, and instead of focusing on the academic standing of each seminarian, they are asking us to see their formation through the lens of ‘stages.’

The first stage that is required for seminarians now is the Propaedeutic Stage, or preparatory stage. During this time, the seminarian learns how to be a seminarian, and his class load is less than a typical undergraduate student. Once he clears this stage of formation, he moves onto the Discipleship Stage. During this time, the seminarian is expected to be growing in Christian virtue as a student of Jesus, the High Priest. He needs to show growth in charity, and of course continue to pass his classes as they start to ramp up to a normal undergraduate load. By the end of this stage, this man should be a public man of prayer and virtue, and someone who is showing real potential to be a pastor in the church.

The next step is the Configurative Stage, where the man receives Candidacy (he starts to wear the Roman collar), and he is now a public man of the church. He is being configured through continued study, prayer and practice into a man who is not only a disciple, but a shepherd. Once he has completed this stage, the seminarian is ready for diaconate ordination, or the Pastoral Synthesis Stage. During his time as a deacon, the seminarian uses all that he has learned in seminary formation and applies it to his life in the diocese and in a specific parish. Using the language of the new program Deacon Tristan, for example is in the Pastoral Synthesis Stage of his journey to priesthood, instead of his 4th Year of Theology.

It may seem tedious to change this language, but it is certainly helpful for me as I walk with our seminarians. I need to make sure I’m not just worried about whether they pass their classes, but I need to make sure I’m preparing them to go to the next stage of discernment. So far, I’ve heard good things from our men regarding these changes to their formation, and I believe the church is right to focus on formation, rather than simply completion of academic requirements.

Called By Name

God won’t move a ‘parked car.’ Father Brett Brannen of the Diocese of Savannah wrote a very popular book on priestly discernment called To Save a Thousand Souls. In the book, he encourages all young people to move toward their vocation in life. He writes that “God won’t move a parked car,” meaning that the Lord honors our freedom, and if we are not willing to start seriously discerning our vocation, then he won’t force us into a decision. The longer we wait, however, the more we deprive ourselves of the grace that God gives to those who have courageously chosen a vocation. It is important to remember that the church calls us to give ourselves fully to a vocation, a call to another, at some stage of our life. This call includes a lifelong commitment that we make solemnly before the Lord and His church. This call can be to marriage, or the priesthood/consecrated life.

Father Nick Adam

It has become popular to delay making a choice on a vocation until we are a little more ‘mature,’ but it is important to remember that maturity does not magically happen just because we get older. I know some folks who are in their early 20s who are way more mature than I was at that age, and while they don’t have ‘life experience,’ they do have a real direction in their life. Faith Formation is more important than life-experience, and when young people are formed in a strong life of faith in their families and parishes from a young age, they are able to move toward life-long vocational commitments faster, and this is a good thing!

On the other hand, some people who delay making vocational commitments in the name of getting more life experience risk stunting their formation even more because they don’t progress in maturity, but only in age, and the extra time they give themselves is spent de-forming their consciences rather than preparing them for the lifelong sacrificial love that our vocation demands.

God won’t move ‘a parked car.’ He won’t force us to grow in our life with him. If we don’t have a solid life of prayer and participate in the sacraments, then we risk missing out on the vocation that the Lord has called us to. Please encourage the young people in your life to grow in maturity. Challenge them to live virtuously and help them to understand that God will help them when they ask for it. All young people should be praying to know their vocation – praying to know who they are called to give their life for. When we move toward the Lord and we ask Him to help us, we will be challenged to do things we never would have chosen ourselves, and yet we become fully alive because God gives us the grace to do things we never would have been capable of otherwise.

Father Nick Adam

For more info on vocations email:

Save the date:
Homegrown Harvest – Saturday, Oct. 21

If you want to bring together good men and women from Mississippi and encourage them to seek the will of God in their life, consider being a sponsor or buying tickets for this event. You can register by visiting Remember Burse Club members receive a free ticket!

Called by name

It is Back-to-School time for our seminarians! We have seven men studying for the diocese right now. This year is the first year of a new requirement for men studying to be priests.

The Bishops of the United States have put together a propaedeutic year – which is kind of like a year of basic training for new seminarians. The men in this propaedeutic program will focus less on the academic requirements of priestly formation and spend the year focusing on growing in the good habits that are necessary to be a good seminarian, and one day, a good priest. Focuses include building a stable life of prayer, building good friendships, working on some personal challenges based on one’s background and staying in good physical shape.

I don’t know about you, but I would welcome a year to focus on building up great habits and breaking down bad ones, so I pray that this is a blessed year for these men.

Our two new seminarians are taking part in the propaedeutic year. Wilson Locke (St. Paul Vicksburg) is a Starkville native who has spent the last three years as the youth director at St. Paul’s in Vicksburg. He is a convert to Catholicism and came into the church while at St. Joseph in Starkville. He is entering the propaedeutic program at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. Francisco Maldonado (Immaculate Heart of Mary, Greenwood) is a native of Houston, Texas, who just finished with his freshman year at Mississippi Valley State. After his year at Valley, Francisco decided to apply to the seminary and desires to discern whether he is called to our mission diocese.

We have five returning seminarians this coming year. Deacon Tristan Stovall (Holy Cross Philadelphia) is set to be ordained a priest on May 18, 2024, and he is currently at St. Mary in Natchez on his extended deacon assignment. John Le (St. Francis Brookhaven) just completed his hospital ministry summer and is returning to Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. John has extensive formation experience as a Jesuit, so we are working on a schedule with him regarding how much ‘more school’ he’ll need. Will Foggo (St. Paul Flowood) is about ‘halfway done,’ as he enters his fourth year of formation in the seminary. EJ Martin and Grayson Foley (St. Richard Jackson) are both five years away from ordination. (God willing of course!)

Ryan Stoer (St. Richard Jackson) has decided to transfer to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I’ve worked closely with Ryan on this decision, and while I am certainly sad to see him go, Santa Fe is getting a high-quality seminarian and future priest. One of the toughest parts of this job is being ‘detached,’ and open to the Lord’s will and not just our own needs. I ask that we all pray for Ryan and wish him all the best and that God’s will be done!

We certainly wish all of our seminarians the very best this school year. Please keep them all in prayer!

                                     – Father Nick Adam, vocation director

For more info on vocations email:
Save the date: Homegrown Harvest – Saturday, Oct. 21

Called by Name

Our summer immersion trip is nearing its end and we are all working to continue to progress in our capacity for Spanish. The experiences here continue to be unique and rich.

For the Fourth of July, we were invited to cook traditional American cuisine and we all chipped in to buy fireworks and enjoy a great show in the evening. Deacon Tristan cooked the best gumbo I have ever had (maybe it’s because I haven’t been in my home country for six weeks, but it was amazing nonetheless) and we had a great evening.

One of the best aspects of this program is that our teachers stay at the monastery with us. They eat meals with us and we get to know them and their families. At the Fourth of July party, the families of all the teachers were invited. It was a great evening and a great witness to the teachers and their families of the joy of the priesthood and the joy of our seminarians. I was able to give an in depth lesson on how to play cornhole (I never knew how many rules their were to that game until I had to describe them all in Spanish!)

CUERNAVACA, Mexico – Seminarians Will Foggo and Grayson Foley can be seen in the choir for Mass on the Feast Day of St. Benedict. (Photos courtesy of Father Nick Adam)

As the program nears its end I am very excited to get home. It’s been a lot of work and there are many challenges that come with living in a different country for a long period of time. The message that continues to come to me in prayer is that I need to embrace the uncomfortable. It is good, sometimes, to be uncomfortable because it helps us to stretch ourselves and become who God wants us to be, not just who we are comfortable being. I believe this experience has helped me, and our seminarians, learn that lesson, and this will be a great gift for the rest of our lives.

Many times this summer we have been faced with a choice: we could either turn back to a place of comfort, or keep going. This happened in the classroom, during conversations at meal time, and on excursions. We went on a long hike a little while back that we weren’t expecting to be too arduous, but an hour in we realized that the terrain was going to be really tough. But we kept going, and the beautiful scenery made it all worth it.

Every time we kept speaking Spanish instead of retreating back into English was a moment of grace. Every time we kept trying to listen to the homily even when we didn’t think we’d understand any of it was a moment of growth. Every time we kept walking because that is what the Lord wanted us to do was a moment to grow closer to him and to grow in humility and trust. I learned a lot of Spanish this summer, but I think my reliance and trust in Jesus Christ grew the most.

     – Father Nick Adam, vocation director
CUERNAVACA, Mexico – Deacon Tristan Stovall cooks up some “traditional” American fair during a language immersion trip to Mexico. Father Nick Adam and seminarians celebrated the Fourth of July with gumbo and fireworks, along with their teachers.

Called by Name

We are two weeks into our excursion to Mexico as myself and three of our seminarians learn Spanish and encounter the culture(s) of the central part of the country.

Our typical day during the work week consists of four hours of classes covering grammar, conversation, culture and history. Two hours each day are one-on-one with a teacher while the other two include lectures with a group and more conversation.

We are staying at a Benedictine Abbey called Our Lady of the Angels in a small pueblo within the city limits of Cuernavaca. We attend Mass each day at the monastery and a join in prayer with the monks for the Liturgy of the Hours. Our teachers live on the grounds as well, so we interact with them throughout the day and get to know them and learn about their families and their experiences on a more personal level.

Father Nick Adam

On weekends, we’ve gone on excursions to encounter the cultures of the region. Our first weekend was a wide-spanning tour of the Mexico City metro area. Our second was spent in a small indigenous community called Cuautla where we worked in a parish and visited several of its 24 mission chapels.
As a priest with a large Hispanic community in his parish, I have already seen lots of fruit coming from this trip. Because we are in Mexico, I am understanding much more about the people I serve back home. It has been fun to experience things here that I’ve already experienced in Mississippi. The food, the celebrations and the customs here remind me often of things that our Hispanic community at St. Peter’s already does.

It is also somewhat ‘uncomfortable’ for all of us. We are challenged as we seek to patiently encounter the differences in culture, food and other practices (for example, I have yet to encounter the use of air conditioning!) Each time a challenge has presented itself, however, the Lord is helping us grow in love and persevere. These challenges are strengthening our resolve to share the Gospel and helps us understand more about ourselves and about the world we live in, and the world that our own parishioners come from and cherish.

I am grateful for those who are helping us feel at home in Mexico. Most especially I am thankful for Brother Francisco, who is the leader of our group and a monk in the monastery. He is from Spain originally but moved to Mexico City to work in the inner-city. He had been an atheist but his time with the poor converted his heart. He is a constant source of energy and joy.

MEXICO CITY – Will Foggo, Grayson Foley, Deacon Tristan Stovall and Father Nick Adam are pictured outside the Mexico City Museum of Art earlier in June.

I am also very thankful to our lead teacher, Bibiana Arroyo. She and her team are very dedicated to making sure that our education is the very best it can be, and she does a fabulous job and interacting with all the students and making sure we are feeling at home. I’ve gotten to be friends with her husband Jesús, we both love basketball.
There is still much work to be done, and more challenges to be met. Please keep myself and our other three pilgrims from Jackson in your prayers.

– Father Nick Adam, vocation director

For more info on vocations email: