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Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry

The first time I gave any real thought about my religion was around 12 years old. Before then, I went to church with my family at, Mater Ecclesiae church in Berlin. I did not care much about my faith and did not look forward to going to Mass. It was this way for many years until I transferred from my public school to John Paul II Middle School in Magnolia during the 7th grade. It was after spending time at, John Paul II School, that I really developed a better understanding of my faith. Once I had a better understanding of what was happening during Mass from talking to the priest at the school I started to try and learn more and more about God, the Church and saints.

When I began to understand Gods presence in my life and his presence in the Eucharist my thirst for knowledge and praying increased exponentially. One person that really inspired this thirst for knowledge and increase in prayer was Saint Padre Pio. Saint Padre Pio has always been an inspiration for me and reading about him many years ago just awestruck me that a person could love God so much and be so willing to serve our Father and others. Looking at how he lived, I would say, inspired the first thoughts about priesthood and I would continue to pursue this idea throughout high school. It was in high school, that this idea of priesthood was more cemented. I would often pray to, Saint Padre Pio, asking for help and guidance to do our Father’s will and it was one night that I think I definitely got an answer. I was driving to confession. One night before, I had told my parish priest that I was thinking about priesthood for myself, and I was praying to, Saint Padre Pio on the way over to confession to intercede for me that our Father might give a plain blunt answer to whether he wanted me to be a priest or not. It was after I had finished confession that I was talking to the priest and he asked me directly if I had ever considered priesthood and that maybe God is calling me. I took that as my blunt answer and would go on from that moment on putting my time and effort into learning about the priesthood. One question that remained with me, was what kind of priest should I discern to be? A religious like Saint Padre Pio, Carmelites, Franciscans, secular priest? It was this question that I would pray and search to answer over the next couple years after graduating high school.

Often times I would talk to my parents, priest at my parishes and family about advice of where I should go in my search for priesthood. In my discernment process, I would travel to quite a few different religious orders and dioceses but after two years in my search there were two types of priesthoods that I felt I was being drawn to a Carmelite Order in Wyoming and the secular priesthood. I would say that from the very beginning, the part of priesthood that made me worried was the amount of college work that was involved in the secular priesthood. That made me hesitant in applying for seminary because I never considered myself the best student in high school. I went for two retreats for the Carmelite Order in Wyoming and I must say that I loved the beauty and simplicity of their life and the devotion to our Father. After the first retreat, I was asked to wait a year for more discernment for this decision and to be honest with myself as much as I loved the Order and devotion to our Father and little mother I did not feel that I was completely certain that this was the Order I was being drawn towards. After going to my second retreat, and talking to the Father Prior, it was recommended that I should try for a more active lifestyle, like the secular priesthood. This would ultimately lead me to apply to the Diocese of Camden and eventually to Seton Hall University.

I don’t know for certain what God’s plan for me here at, St. Andrews Seminary, may hold but I trust that whatever happens in my discernment process it will only be for His glory and following Saint Padre Pio’s example, I will strive to simply pray, hope and put any worries I have in our Father’s loving hands.

James Sprenger

James Sprenger

James Sprenger attends The College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception at St. Andrew’s Hall, Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ.
James Sprenger

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