My name is Peter Gallagher and I’m a seminarian for the Diocese of Camden. I was born in 1994 in Voorhees, NJ to Kevin and Ann Gallagher. I have two sisters, Aileen my older sister and Claire my younger sister. My home parish is Christ the King where my whole family has been active and where I sang in the children’s choir and altar served.
The first time I remember thinking about the priesthood was when my family won a dinner cooked for us by Fr. Robert Sinatra at the parish rectory. Before we left for home I asked our pastor Msgr. Pokusa to see something else in the rectory and he said “Not until you enter the seminary!” I asked my dad what the seminary was and he responded, “That’s where priests learn and study.” That planted a seed of desire to one day end up in the seminary in order to become a priest. I wrote in 8th grade an essay for Catholic School’s week on how grateful I was for being able to attend Christ the King specifically because there I was able to learn about God and think about possibly becoming a priest one day.
I attended Paul VI High School and became really involved in running cross country and track. I continued to practice my faith and serve at my parish and while the idea of priesthood remained in the back of my mind, it wasn’t my first priority. I was so sure I wanted to enter the seminary at the end of my junior year only to date my friend for a little while. During this time however, I experienced for the first time real unhappiness, an awareness that I wasn’t following the Lord’s plan for my life. Fr. Michael Romano, our high school chaplain, was there every step of the way as a tremendous mentor and role model. He invited me to share my discernment with another priest, Fr. George Seiter, and as soon as I explained my thoughts about the priesthood, I realized this was what the Lord was calling me to. I experienced great peace even though I knew I had to change some things in my life. The end of my senior year was so beautiful: I got to enjoy great events with my friends, starting praying more, going to Confession regularly, and attended daily Mass when I could. I had great support too from my parish, from our high school discernment group, and from my family.
That fall, I attended college Seminary at Seton Hall University. I absolutely loved it and right from the beginning developed a deep and personal relationship with Christ, a love for His Church, and had great brothers in our seminary community. I also really was blessed to make great friends on campus especially through mission trips run by Campus Ministry. These first four years of seminary was where I began to also have a greater devotion to our Blessed Mother Mary. I have studied the last two years at the North American College in Rome where I was privileged to study theology, see our Holy Father every Sunday, and pray at the tombs of many of the saints in Rome.
I have a word of advice for you today: Go to visit Jesus in the silence of your parish church. He is waiting for you there! He wants to tell you how deeply He loves you. In that embrace of charity He may be inviting you to follow Him to be a priest. Be courageous and say yes to this wonderful and humbling vocation!
Thank you for praying for me and please continue to pray for an increase in vocations here in the Diocese of Camden.
Thank You and God Bless!