Hi, my name is John March and I’m a seminarian with the Diocese of Camden. I was born to Bill and Maureen in Philadelphia, PA and I’m the middle child. My brother is 8 years older than me he resides in Philadelphia and my sister is 2 years younger than me and she resides in Barrington, NJ.
Growing up in Haddon Heights in Audubon, my family attended Saint Rose of Lima Parish in Haddon Heights and Sacred Heart Parish in Mount Ephraim. I attended mostly public schools until 9th grade when I transitioned to a Catholic High School at Bishop Eustace. It was there at Bishop Eustace where I first got to know priests in a more friendly way and also where I got to attend a ministry trip where my relationship with God was deeply affected.
In 2001, I graduated from the Naval Academy and I spent 6 years serving in the Marine Corp. During my second year in the Marines, while at home visiting my mother, she took me to visit Sacred Heart Parish in Camden. The warmth and hospitality of that parish community spoke to me in a way that made me want to keep coming back.
At the end of my service as a Marine, a friend introduced me to Eucharistic Adoration at Saint Rose of Lima Parish and it was there that I met Father Al Hewett. He met me where I was at in his own humorous way, he planted seeds of truth in me, and he modeled a life of holiness.
In 2008, my aunt Nancy gave me a book about a Catholic University in Ohio. It’s the first book that I’ve ever read twice as an adult. And I was captivated by the story about what God had done at that school. It was there that I obtained my Masters in Theology because I wanted to learn more about my Catholic Faith and how to share it with others. After studying in Ohio for three years, I returned home and began to volunteer at Saint Rose of Lima Parish.
In October of 2014, I attended a retreat. And on the final night of the retreat, one of the women who was leading the retreat, very reluctantly approached me and she asked me if I have ever considered a vocation. And later on that night I attended a local parish to have my holy hour and as I was walking up to the church another man said to me, “You’ll have to excuse us because we pray for priests during this holy hour.” And I said, “That’s ok, I’m ready for that.”
A few weeks later I knew I needed to make a decision. And so one morning before a dental appointment, I had a time of prayer. And at the end of that time of prayer, I was at peace with the decision that I had made.
At the appointment, a dentist I didn’t even know, approached me and began to talk about matters of faith. And he strongly encouraged me to consider the priesthood. And at that point I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through this man. It confirmed the decision that I had made earlier in prayer that I wanted to pursue the priesthood.
After those experiences I felt very strongly that I was being called to the priesthood. At that point I thought the best person to contact would be the Vocations Director of the Diocese. Speaking with Father Michael Romano, the Vocations Director, was a very good experience for me. I felt listened to, very understood, and there’s something about him that is just motivating in his own particular way. And it’s the kind of thing that makes you want to become a better person and a great priest.
At the end of our meeting he invited me to a discernment group where the seminarians of the Diocese were gonna be present. I attended and I was so impressed by the spiritual maturity and the joy and the community amongst those seminarians. Eventually I went to visit the seminary and I felt very at home there. I felt very welcomed by the priests and the seminarians and I walked away from that experience feeling at peace. A month and a half later I began application to the Diocese.
I’m now entering my third year as a seminarian for the Diocese of Camden at Immaculate Conception Seminary and I feel very personally blessed by the support of my family and my friends and my home parish. But universally as a group of seminarians we feel very blessed for the prayers of the many people throughout the Diocese and especially for the support of the priest of our Diocese who even come up and visit us at the seminary and take us out to eat.
I also want to say that the Bishop and the members of the Diocese and the rector and all those formators at the seminary sincerely care for us and encourage us towards the priesthood in a way that is unique and that I would encourage anybody to want to experience.
If you’re considering the priesthood at all or feel God might be calling you in that direction, I’ll leave you with the words that Father Romano encouraged me with at the end of our first meeting. “We’d love to have you in the Diocese.” And I’ll also leave you with the words that a wise elderly Monsignor said to me as well “Don’t ever let anyone say to you that we don’t need you.”
Thanks a lot for your time and I’ll be praying for you.
God Bless You!