Called by Name

It may be the middle of the calendar year, but the vocations calendar is about to turn. We got to celebrate the priestly ordination of Father Andrew Bowden in May and the ordination to the diaconate of Carlisle Beggerly in June. Now, vocation directors in turn are getting ready for the ‘next school year,’ and the work of finding the next Bowdens and Beggerlys.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

In July, we will hold our third Quo Vadis discernment retreat at Our Lady of the Pines in Chatawa. This is a retreat open to young men ages 15-25 who are open to a call to priesthood. The retreat will run from July 25-28. Our first two retreats of this kind were held last year, and they were a lot of fun. If you know of someone who would benefit from this retreat, or if you are interested in helping out with this event or ones of this kind – i.e. chaperoning, providing food/snacks, please let me know via email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

In early August the seminarians will come together for our annual convocation. This event has grown over the last several years and we enjoy getting together and checking in prior to the new school year. One of the highlights of the convocation this year will be seminarian Will Foggo receiving his call to candidacy. Being a candidate for Holy Orders means a couple of things: 1) you are committed to priestly discernment, and while you have not officially committed to going all the way to ordination, you believe that the Lord is calling you in this direction. Think of it like a high school football player making a verbal commitment to a college. One of the joys of candidacy is that a seminarian is then authorized to start wearing a roman collar in public. This is a neat stage of discernment because it starts ‘getting real’ for the seminarian. He is a public man of the church, not just as a seminarian, but visibly through his dress. Typically, a man receives candidacy when he begins his theology studies – 2-4 years into his priestly formation.

The convocation is also a good opportunity to build fraternity with our current priests. We’ve had our convocation in Natchez the last two years, which has been amazing, and distinctly ‘Mississippi,’ but this year we are going to have our gathering in the Jackson Metro Area, and I’m planning on inviting priests from around the area to drop by to say hello and give talks to the seminarians. There is no better way to build relationships that quality time in front of another person, and in a world that is increasingly digital, it is vital that our seminarians get in front of our current priests so they can encourage one another. I find it very energizing to witness the zeal and excitement of our seminarians, and I’m excited to get together with them all at the end of what will be a busy summer for each of them.
– Father Nick Adam

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

Called by Name

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

I am happy to report that we not only have a new priest, Father Andrew Bowden, but we also have a new seminarian, Mr. John Le. John was born in Vietnam but had to flee the country as a teenager after the communist takeover. He settled in Houston, Texas and attended high school there before enrolling at Texas A&M. John studied engineering and worked as a microelectronics engineer in Houston and Dallas before entering the Jesuits. After over a decade as a Jesuit brother, John began to discern diocesan priesthood. He has lived and worked with his brother in Brookhaven for the last year or so, and that’s when I started to get to know him. John will be enrolling at Sacred Heart Seminary in Hales Corners, Wisconsin this August. Sacred Heart specializes in educating second-career seminarians, and recent graduates from Sacred Heart in our diocese include Father Lincoln Dall. Carlisle Beggerly enjoyed two years at Sacred Heart even more recently as he did his pre-theology studies at Hales Corners before coming to Notre Dame in New Orleans for theology.

John Le

I was heartened to hear Bishop Kopacz announce at Father Andrew’s ordination that he has now ordained 12 priests since being consecrated as Bishop of Jackson in February of 2014. That is a great blessing, and we are seeing great work done by our recently ordained men.

It is encouraging for me to see my classmates and former seminary brothers become pastors. Father Aaron Williams is now pastor at St. Mary Basilica and Assumption Parishes in Natchez, Father Mark Shoffner is now pastor at St. John in Oxford, and Father Adolfo Suarez is pastor in Forest.

Also, Father Andrew Nguyen will be pastor soon at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Greenwood, and I am excited to be rector at St. Peter Cathedral beginning this July. The good news is that this is not the end; it is only the beginning. God willing, we will have four new priests entering the fold in the next three years. Carlisle Beggerly’s diaconate ordination is coming up on June 4 at his home parish in West Point, and so next year we will get to see him ordained a priest, followed the next year by Ryan Stoer and Tristan Stovall.

Our prayers for a “Homegrown Harvest” continue to be answered, and I ask that you continue to ask the Lord for more laborers for His harvest. I would like to thank our current seminarians for their dedication to their formation. And remember — we are about quality, not necessarily quantity! I’m so happy with our current group of men because I believe they are dedicated to being formed well, and so even if they do not ultimately present themselves for ordination, they will be great husbands and fathers in our parishes. Please pray for our men in formation, and continue your great work of praying for vocations, and encouraging more young men to consider whether the Lord is calling them to shepherd his people as a priest of Jesus Christ.

Called by name

Mother’s Day snuck up on me I must admit, it feels like we are usually well into the double-digit days of May before we set aside a day to honor Mom. I’m sitting here at my desk remembering the many lessons my mom taught me, at home, at school and in the church. My mother was my elementary school principal. I attended St. Benedict School in Elberta, Alabama where Claudia Adam was the principal from 1995-2005. It’s not every kid who can say that his mom literally ‘taught him.’

Father Nick Adam remembers his mother, Claudia Adam (on right) on Mother’s Day. She was a huge impact on him and her courageous witness helped him to say yes to God’s call.

Because mom was a Catholic School teacher, she had plenty to do with the life of the parish. St. Bartholomew Parish sits right across the street from St. Benedict, and my mom cared deeply about enriching the faith of all the students under her care. With the help of handymen in the community she converted an old storage room into a very nice chapel on the school campus, and she never missed an opportunity to talk to us students about the importance of Mass and other devotions that we took part in like Stations of the Cross during Lent. I still remember that we would sing the parts of the Stabat Mater in Latin, we sounded like angels, except for being out of tune! My mother’s example was a huge reason that I became a priest. I saw her life of service, and it spoke to me.

So, this is my encouragement to all you moms out there who have sons that are the apple of your eye. Please encourage them if you see priestly gifts in them. I know it can be frightening and different for your child to choose a road less traveled but take Mary’s example to heart. Mary had one child, and that child was miraculously conceived. Mary had a choice, and she said yes. And that yes blessed not just her family, not just her people, not just her country, not just the world, but the universe. That ‘yes’ brought Jesus into the world. God could have done it another way, but he allowed a free choice to bring Jesus into the created order. Your ‘yes’ can bless the universe as well. Your ‘yes’ can help Jesus be made sacramentally present in a parish that doesn’t have a resident priest right now. And we don’t just need more priests, we need more good priests. We need good men from good families who could serve their community and the world doing anything because they are so talented, but they choose to serve the church because they were called to this vocation, and they were nurtured and encouraged by their family to be generous with their gifts for the salvation of souls.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

Moms have a lot to do with a good man choosing to serve the church as a diocesan priest, and they can also have a lot to do with steering a man away from that call. I know it is scary, but I promise to do my best to walk with you and your family on the journey. I am so grateful to the mothers of our current seminarians who, like Mary, said yes. And their yes will lead to Jesus being made present in the sacraments for decades to come. In your charity, please say a prayer for my mom, who died in 2014. I miss her, but her example of humble service still inspires me, and even though she died before I was ordained, her courageous witness helped me to say yes to the Lord when the time came. Blessings to all moms and mother figures!
– Father Nick Adam

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

Called by name

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

I was honored to be asked by Bishop Kopacz to represent our diocese at the keynote banquet at the Knights of Columbus State Convention in Tunica on Saturday, April 23. As a part of the night’s festivities the Worthy State Deputy Roy Gamez and State Secretary Guy Heying presented a generous donation to the Bishop Gerow Priest Education Fund totaling more than $40,000. These funds go directly to the annual budget for our seminarians and our efforts to find more men to study for the priesthood.

One of the focuses of the evening was the role that men need to play in the Catholic Church. The core virtues of the Knights of Columbus are charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism, and Supreme Knight Patrick Kelly highlighted how the organization has been living out these virtues in the midst of these trying times. I also believe that these virtues, if lived out by Catholic men, can lead to a great abundance of priestly vocations. I have shared in this space before that one of the driving forces behind my discernment was the example of my Knights of Columbus Council in Meridian. Council 802 is filled with Catholic lay men who take their call to serve and the mandates of their faith in Jesus Christ very seriously. This made a great impact on me as I considered how I was called to serve in the church.

There is great power in the example of men in the church. If men care more about their time in prayer and service than their time on the couch or on the golf course or at the gym or at the game, then that speaks to our young people. If men can build healthy friendships rooted in faith that enables them to share healthy leisure time together, that encourages the same behavior in their families. If men can love God and country in a way that seeks first and foremost to serve those most in need with generosity and courage, then they are a great light to our world in desperate need for examples of fervent faith. They are most especially lights to their families, which the Knights of Columbus seek to support in everything that they do.

ROBINSONVILLE – Mississippi Knights of Columbus State Secretary Guy Heying (St. Richard Council 15131) presents a donation to Father Nick Adam on behalf of the Councils and Assemblies of the Knights of Columbus in the Diocese of Jackson.

I greatly appreciate the generosity of our KC councils and assemblies throughout the State of Mississippi. The annual financial contribution that they make to support future priests is a fruit of the work that they do in their communities throughout each year. I encourage any man who is wanting to grow in faith to consider joining their local council. I am glad that I joined mine all those years ago.

– Father Nick Adam

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

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

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

Called by name

I was ready for spring to get here, and I’m ready for Easter to get here too. The older I get the less I like the cold, and the older I get the more I am moved and drawn to the joy and light of Easter as we walk through Lent, preparing our hearts and minds to solemnly and joyfully celebrate the mysteries of our redemption. So, if you are like me and you are waiting in anticipation of the glory to be revealed, then this article is for you. This spring is going to be amazing.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 14 at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Jackson, you can witness the ordination of a brand new priest – Father Andrew Bowden. Then a few weeks later, Carlisle Beggerly will be ordained a deacon in preparation for priesthood on Saturday, June 4 at his home parish of Immaculate Conception in West Point. The public is invited to each of these masses, and I hope that some of you will make it a point to come and celebrate with us.

This will also be a great spring (and summer) for our other seminarians. Ryan Stoer and Tristan Stovall will both be working at St. Dominic Hospital as a part of their priestly formation. I am so grateful to the pastoral care and volunteer services teams at “St. D,” who have collaborated with the diocese since 2016 to provide this experience for our second-year theologians. It is a great gift for our men to be able to get field experience ministering to the sick in their home diocese. I was a part of the first summer experience at “St. D” when I was in seminary, and it was a really rewarding experience.

While Ryan and Tristan care for the sick, Will Foggo will be learning at the feet of the Divine Physician this spring and summer. Will is going to be in Omaha, Nebraska at the Institute for Priestly Formation. I have written about this two-month program before, but basically it is a summer experience where 175 seminarians from across the country gather to learn how to live out the spirituality of a diocesan priest. They learn skills that will help them remain faithful to prayer and to the call to spiritual fatherhood that they are discerning while in seminary.

Grayson Foley will be placed in a diocesan parish this summer, and I’m still working out those details. Grayson spent his first summer as a seminarian with Father Aaron Williams at St. Joseph in Greenville, and he had a wonderful time and learned so much from Father Aaron and from the people of this parish and the community. I take the placement of our seminarians very seriously because their summer assignments give them a taste of what ministry in their diocese will be like. The support and the guidance that you, the people of our diocese, give our seminarians while they are on assignment (or just home for the weekend) is so vital to their priestly formation. Please pray for me as I work to build up our formation program, and please let me know if you have suggestions or feedback!

Also please pray for several men who are considering applying or are in the application process right now. St. John Vianney, pray for us!

                                                    – Father Nick Adam

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

Called by name

In my past three entries I have discussed three of the four dimensions of priestly formation for our seminarians. The human, spiritual and intellectual pillars all serve the greater purpose of forming pastors. Therefore, the fourth and final dimension we will examine is the pastoral dimension. This dimension of priestly formation can be seen as a stand-alone pillar with different tasks highlighted and required during seminary training, but it can also be seen as the synthesis of everything that a man learns and becomes during his time in the seminary.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

If a seminarian is attentive to his human formation, then he becomes both more approachable and more effective at inviting others into a more robust faith. If a seminarian is diligently praying and growing in relationship with Jesus Christ, then he’ll be a more inspiring spiritual father to his parishioners. If a seminarian has taken the time and the effort to really apply what he has learned in the classroom, he is better able to share the truths in the faith with his people in a way that is helpful rather than weaponizing the truth and steering people away from his counsel.

Concretely, the seminarians are given opportunities for pastoral formation both inside the seminary and outside its confines. I remember with great clarity working in the student government at Notre Dame Seminary (NDS). There are plenty of big opinions and competing agendas when you live in a building with 130 other men, and so my year as the president of the student body at NDS was very formative. I was able to gain practice in collaborating effectively and empowering others with different skill sets than mine. I also was able to make mistakes in a controlled environment with the safety net of the seminary administration and faculty there to back me up. Our seminarian, Carlisle Beggerly is currently serving as NDS student body president, please keep him in your prayers!

Outside the seminary there are many different pastoral outreach opportunities. The seminary will typically either assign or allow a seminarian to pick a ministry that they’d like to be involved with during an academic year. This could include prison ministry, homeless outreach, or working in Catholic Schools or parish religious education. All of these opportunities allow the seminarian not only to reflect on their own pastoral skills and development, but they also allow the members of the church to give feedback on his development both to the individual seminarian and those entrusted with his formation.

The four dimensions of priestly formation, human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral, work together. They are helpful categories for the seminarians and their supervisors to gauge their aptitude for diocesan priesthood. Every man who is ordained a priest should be able to diligently and effectively lead the people of a parish, even if he will not immediately be named a pastor. These dimensions help us create goals and gauge progress so that the people of God can be served by the pastors they need.
– Father Nick Adam

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, please email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.

Called by name

This week we continue our dive into the structure of priestly formation. Thus far I have described the human and spiritual dimensions of the training that our seminarians receive prior to ordination, and today we will look at the intellectual dimension. My old rector, Father Jim Wehner, likes to say that being authentically Catholic is not being counter-cultural because our Catholicism should enter into and elevate our secular culture. Our faith should never be in the background, but it should always be a witness to God’s role in creation and authentic beauty. Unfortunately, our society believes that faith should be completely subordinated to the popular culture. Popular culture exists in the public space, and your faith, whatever it may be, will be tolerated only as long as it stays behind closed doors.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

Our seminarians first receive a challenging formation in the philosophical tradition of the Catholic Church because they must be able to see and understand the roots of our current mindset. So many of the ways our society acts are rooted in philosophical thoughts and theories that have been calcifying for centuries. From Rene Decartes in the 17th century, we hear “I think therefore I am,” and from that point forward a radical individualism has become more and more prevalent in the life of Western Europeans and those countries influenced by the West.

But the philosophic tradition of the Catholic Church would argue “God speaks; therefore, we are.” Everything that we have comes from God and can and should lead us back to God. Therefore, seminarians learn the philosophical treaties of saints like Thomas Aquinas, who are certainly not anti-intellectual, but they understand that faith and reason never need to be disconnected. Only after laying that solid groundwork do our seminarians start to dive into theology classes. They learn the intricacies of trinitarian theology and our dogmas that have been solemnly proclaimed by the teaching authority of the church, and because they have a philosophical groundwork, they are able to share these concepts in relationship to our day and time.

The intellectual formation our seminarians receive is robust, but it is all for a pastoral purpose. During their 6-8 years of study, the seminarians are encouraged to see their desk and their reading space and the library as places of ministry. They are serving their future parishioners by taking the time to take in the intellectual tradition of the church so they can share it with a society that doesn’t really know why it thinks the way it does, and they are trained to infuse our culture with the fullness of the Gospel message.

Called by name

I apologize for my absence in the last issue, but as our editor shared I was on my annual silent retreat. This is a nice segue to exploring the second dimension of priestly formation that a man is responsible for nurturing and developing during his time in the seminary: Spiritual.

Father Nick Adam
Father Nick Adam

            The Spiritual Dimension of priestly formation is cultivated through building a consistent habit of silent prayer. It is so important that a man is able to be in regular conversation with the Lord and to allow the love of the Father deep into his heart and soul. This will help him to persevere during long years of priestly formation, and it will also sustain him in ministry once he is ordained. The seminary plays an important role in providing opportunity for men to pray each day. Every morning at both of our seminaries there is time for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament before the regularly scheduled morning prayers with the community. This time of silent encounter with Jesus is one of the best ways to stay connected with the Lord. But outside the structure of the seminary a man must be dedicated to renewing his relationship with God whenever it begins to wane.

            Just like there are times when couples need a retreat, a weekend, a family vacation to recharge, so too a priest needs to be attentive to making sure he is taking time in silence and deep prayer to be with the Lord. The seminary can give men the tools to do this and they can mandate times in the schedule to facilitate prayer, but eventually the seminarian must be responsible for taking that time with the Lord on his own. It can be very tempting to see silent prayer time as a “waste,” even as a priest. After all, there are many different responsibilities that need tending to for all of us, and yet if a priest does not provide that good example for his people, his parishioners will likely begin to believe that prayer is optional for them as well. And if a priest does not take time to connect with the Lord who loves him and who has called him to this ministry, it can be easy to forget that he was called at all.

            One way that we seek to cultivate a deep love for prayer in our seminarians is a summer experience at the “Institute for Priestly Formation.” IPF hosts 175 seminarians each summer at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. During the eight-week program, The seminarians are taught the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and go to various seminars helping them understand spiritual movements in a deeper, more relational way rooted in the truth that at baptism we are made beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father in Christ. Participants also have many opportunities to pray together in a way that builds up bonds of friendship and support that can help them throughout their time in seminary and into priesthood. Some of my best friends were men who attended the IPF summer program when I was there in 2015, and I know that I can seek their support when I need to deepen my prayer life and be held accountable for my attention to the Lord in silence and prayer.

            My annual retreat was filled with graces from the Lord for which I am very grateful. I encourage all of you to build in times of silent prayer each day, and I pray that our future priests will help to guide you in your own relationship as beloved sons and daughters of the Father.

Called by name

Editor’s note: Father Nick Adam was on retreat at press time. He will return in our next edition. Enjoy this summary of upcoming Vocations events.

Father Nick hosted a Vocations Summit at St. Francis Madison on Tuesday, Jan. 11 to gather together discerners and vocation supporters to network and learn more about what the Vocations department will be offering this year.
A replay of the event can be viewed on the Diocese Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JacksonDiocese/videos/968407680439994/

Vocations Calendar

Below is the preliminary calendar Father Nick shared at the Vocations Summit to help discerners and volunteers plan for events this year. Please let him know if you have men/women who would be interested and he will add them to his contact lists so they are in the loop:

February/March 2022
– Young Women’s Nun Run to Hanceville/Nashville/Alton, Illinois

April 8-10, 2022
– Young Men’s Seminary Come and See – St. Joseph Seminary College, Covington, Louisiana

June 3-5, 2022
Chosen Men’s and Women’s Discernment Weekend (College Age and Over) – St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College, Covington, Louisiana

Summer 2022
– Quo Vadis Summer Discernment Days (Young Men Ages 15-25) -– Our Lady of Hope, Chatawa, Mississippi

Fall 2022

  • Third annual Homegrown Harvest Festival and Fundraiser

November 18-20, 2022
Quo Vadis Fall Discernment Days (with the Diocese of Baton Rouge, for Young Men Ages 15-25) – Camp Abbey, Covington, Louisiana

Save the Date

Deacon Andrew Bowden’s Priestly Ordination will be on Saturday, May 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle in Jackson.

Carlisle Beggerly’s ordination to the Diaconate (transitional) will be on Saturday, June 4 at 10:30 a.m. at Immaculate Conception West Point, Carlisle’s home parish.

If you are interested in learning more about religious orders or vocations to the priesthood and religious life, visit www.jacksonpriests.com or email nick.adam@jacksondiocese.org.