Back to school time brings vocations into focus

Guest Column

By Nick Adam

Nick Adam

As the seminary academic year draws near, it is a good time to reflect on the culture of vocations that is being cultivated in the Diocese of Jackson. This is one of the intended outcomes of the pastoral plan that is being rolled out in the Diocese in this our 180th year of ministry. Right now, we have 11 seminarians studying to be priests, but a look at the recent data released in this publication tells us that we are already facing a major clergy shortage, especially “home grown” vocations.
This hit home to me, literally, this past month. As a transitional deacon, I have an active role in the sacramental life of the parish, but I do not have the faculties to celebrate Mass. When my pastor took a well-earned vacation, we were unable to have daily Mass because there were simply no other priests available, and this was right in the middle of the metro area! I joked with the staff that I could do vocation talks during our usual Mass time, but then I really began to ponder the great challenge that faces us.
It is my prayer that our pastoral priority of inspiring intentional disciples will lead all of us to take an active role in promoting vocations. The most vital role will be in the home, with parents who love their faith and present priesthood and religious life as viable options to their children. Promotion must continue into parish life, with priests who are faithful and inspiring in their words and actions, and it will extend to our Catholic schools where religious vocations, for both men and women, are highlighted.
Priesthood and religious life is not a vow to boredom or unfulfilled potential. For those who are called it is the most joyful way of life you could imagine. I have loved every minute of my five-plus years in the seminary, and my first summer as an ordained minister has been incredibly fulfilling and life-giving. Every day I come into the office a new challenge is presented, and every day God gives me the grace to meet that challenge and to grow into a better version of myself.
Priesthood and religious life is very attractive to young people today. Our youth want to be challenged to grow beyond the limits that society tries to put on them. They search for new, innovative ways to solve problems and they enjoy being challenged by new ideas. My seminary formation has helped to be a more courageous person and to extend myself beyond the limits that I had formed for myself. I thought that I “knew it all” before entering the seminary, but after two years of philosophy studies, I quickly learned that I did not, and I have been blessed with a world class education that would prepare anyone for success, whether they make it to ordination or not.
There are two agents in the discernment process: the individual and the Church. A young man or woman may believe they are called, or may have an inkling they are called, but if they are not called forth by the Church, they could miss out. It is also very possible that a young man or young woman may have never considered religious life, and your prompting may give them the opportunity to ponder their gifts and talents and realize that God is calling them to this way of life.
I keep speaking about young men and young women because I realize that the vocation crisis that we face goes both ways. In fact, the crisis that women religious face may be even more daunting. There are many theories out there about what has brought about the shortage of nuns in the Church, but I would simply plead for action from us as a diocese. There are female religious orders in our own country that are thriving, and so again, this is a viable, life-giving option. There are also incredible examples of service and faith that are right in our midst. The Springfield Dominican sisters have founded and run one of the biggest hospitals in the state of Mississippi. The presence and ministry of St. Dominic Hospital is truly a fruit of the Holy Spirit, and it is sitting right at the intersection of I-20 and I-55! This is the kind of work that God can do when we are open to it.
As we continue to roll out our Pastoral Plan, consider this an encouragement to inspire intentional disciples in an intentional way. Look up some of the religious orders around the country and think about some young women that could be interested, or who have the necessary gifts to thrive in that environment. Check out the website of St. Joseph Seminary College ( and Notre Dame Seminary (, and check out what is happening at these incredible institutions. Most of all, encourage our young people to think about religious life. For those of us that have experienced God’s work in religious formation, we can attest that it is an incredible gift to do God’s work.
(Deacon Nick Adam is currently on staff at Jackson St. Richard.)

From anchor desk to altar: Deacon Adam discerned call in Mississippi

By Maureen Smith
MERIDIAN – Nick Adam moved to Meridian to be a sports anchor. By his own admission, he practiced his faith, but never considered a deeper commitment before he landed in Mississippi. His time at St. Patrick Parish, under the direction of Father Frank Cosgrove, changed all that. He started to hear a deeper call.
Friday, March 17, on the feast of St. Patrick, he was ordained into the transitional diaconate in St. Patrick Church. He will be ordained into the priesthood next summer.
During the homily, Bishop Joseph Kopacz spoke of the parish patron as one of the greatest of all evangelizers. He also spoke about this history of the diaconate and how these men of service are so important to the work of the church. At the end of the homily, Bishop Kopacz invoked the prayer known as the breastplate of St. Patrick, a call to bring Christ into the center of all we IMG_2136_cdo.
Deacon Adam’s sister, Julie Bordes said Adam, the youngest of eight siblings, was always the peacemaker of the family. “With so many siblings there was always something. He kind of had to keep us together and he was the youngest. If he said ‘oh…’ or if he started crying about something we would all turn, look, feel guilty and act right,” she said. “I think it’s special in so many ways that as a youngest child he is going to now take that leadership role and be over a parish,” she added.
Bordes said the family did not suspect that he had a call, but in a way the siblings were not surprised when he announced his plan to enter seminary. “We were just so proud of him when he went into communications and was a sports anchor and a news anchor and he gave us each a call and said ‘you know, I think I might go into the priesthood’ and we just really couldn’t be prouder.”
Deacon Adam had to go back to school to earn a theology degree and learn about parish and church administration. Bordes said she knows he has the right personality for the job. “Ever since he was a little child he was so kind and nurturing. He always used his voice to help others and I just feel like he has found his place. He seems completely at peace,” she said.
Bordes said Deacon Adam’s vocation has been a blessing to the whole family that now the whole diocese gets to share. “He comes off as not very shy, but I think in his heart he is and that is sort of unique because it shows his true passion that he continues to talk and mentor and preach I would urge everyone to get to know him. He is such a fun guy. I have a three-year-old and a five-year-old and they have truly learned that priests are not just someone that stand up at Mass every Sunday, they like to watch football games, they like to run they are silly, they will tackle and play, so that has been special for our family as well with so many nieces and nephews,” said Bordes.
While ordinations into the priesthood still take place in the cathedral, Bishop Joseph Kopacz has started ordaining men into the transitional diaconate in their home parishes. Nick considers St. Patrick as his Mississippi home parish since he discerned hiIMG_2420_cs call here.
Denise Huntley is a parishioner at St. Patrick. She said she is thankful Bishop Kopacz was willing to ordain Deacon Adam in Meridian. “This has just been wonderful because we knew Nick before he even thought about becoming a priest and to watch him discern and grow in his faith and make the decision to become a priest – it’s just awesome to be here to celebrate this momentous occasion,” said Huntley.
“We look forward to the final ordination next year. There are not enough people going into the priesthood so to personally know someone like Nick – he’s an amazing young man and he’s going to make a wonderful priest,” said Huntley.
Deacon Adam will spend his transitional year at Jackson St. Richard Parish.