Vocations Office - Seminarians

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Fr. Paul Sullivan

Director

602-354-2005

Father Matt Lowry

Assistant Director

928-779-2903

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To make a donation to support the formation of seminarians of our diocese, please send donations to:

Office of Vocations
Diocese of Phoenix
400 E. Monroe Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004

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Alexander Senderling

I discovered God's call to me to enter the seminary through a few ways. The deep desire He placed in me to serve those around me, most especially through the Church. The profound love for the Sacraments He placed in my heart. And finally the desire to be united with Him, to see his face. Acknowledging and discovering these desires I was also inspired by the example set forth by some of the priests in my life and I began to think that might be the life I am meant to live. I knew I needed to further discern this and that seminary was the next step for me.
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Alexander Senderling

I discovered God's call to me to enter the seminary through a few ways. The deep desire He placed in me to serve those around me, most especially through the Church. The profound love for the Sacraments He placed in my heart. And finally the desire to be united with Him, to see his face. Acknowledging and discovering these desires I was also inspired by the example set forth by some of the priests in my life and I began to think that might be the life I am meant to live. I knew I needed to further discern this and that seminary was the next step for me.

Parish: St. Joan of Arc / All Saints Newman Center
High School: Pinnacle High School
Grade School: Quail Run
Year in Seminary: First (Spirituality Year)
Name of Seminary You Are Attending St. John Vianney
Favorite Saint(s): St. Faustina, St. Joseph, St. Martin of Tours, St. Philomena, St. Anselm

Rex Rumsey

“Peace be with you.” While growing up in a Catholic family, I heard these words uttered every weekend at my church in Anthem, Arizona; however, each time I shrugged it off hoping it would stay “with his spirit” or at the very least, remain in Jesus’ mouth 2,000 years ago when he said the same thing to Apostles - especially Thomas the Doubter. Initially, like Thomas, I didn’t understand the resurrected Christ. Besides, most of the time while at mass, I was in my red and blue baseball uniform waiting to play my next game - it was playoff Sunday.
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Rex Rumsey

“Peace be with you.” While growing up in a Catholic family, I heard these words uttered every weekend at my church in Anthem, Arizona; however, each time I shrugged it off hoping it would stay “with his spirit” or at the very least, remain in Jesus’ mouth 2,000 years ago when he said the same thing to Apostles - especially Thomas the Doubter.

Initially, like Thomas, I didn’t understand the resurrected Christ. Besides, most of the time while at mass, I was in my red and blue baseball uniform waiting to play my next game - it was playoff Sunday. Fortunately, against my initial will, this sports mentality did not bring me to the big leagues, as I had hoped; rather, Providence united my will to His on October 19, 2011, when I found out that a family friend, Katie Wagner, got diagnosed with Stage 4 bone and lung cancer.

Immediately, my heart exploded for the Lord my junior and senior year in high school, and after dabbling with the evangelical church for some time, through strong intercession, parental vigilance, and the scholarship of Fr. Robert Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn, I felt comfortable, again, in the arms of Mother Church. I did not come dimly, though: the thought of the priesthood lit up within me, and excited me while I was 17 onward; I was eager to grow in holiness and to invite others to the universal call as well. Now, I find myself going to the Josephinum to continue discerning God’s call!

Parish: St. Mary Magdalene
High School: Sandra Day O'Connor
Grade School: Anthem
Year in Seminary: First
Name of Seminary You Are Attending Pontifical College Josephinum
Favorite Saint(s): St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese, St. Pope John Paul II, Cardinal John Henry Newman, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, and G.K. Chesterton

Justin Meehan

My discernment began with the Catholic faith of my father and mother who brought me and my six siblings into the Church as small children. I recall at a early age the grace that I received at the Holy Mass.
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Justin Meehan

My discernment began with the Catholic faith of my father and mother who brought me and my six siblings into the Church as small children. I recall at a early age the grace that I received at the Holy Mass.

Sadly, in my teenage years, I made bad decisions with friends by accepting perilous temptations against the soul. In the spring of 2009, my junior year of high school, I went on a Lifeteen retreat with St. Benedict's Catholic Church up to Prescott. While on this weekend retreat, during adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, I was broken down before God and He showed me my faults against Him. After this retreat, I gradually departed from my old friends and in turn I gained true friends through this program.

At the end of my senior year of high school, I attended another Steubenville Lifeteen retreat at the UoA campus. After Mass on the last day, the priests con-celebrating together asked any young men who thought of discerning priesthood to come to the altar to receive a blessing. Suddenly, I felt like standing up for the blessing, but out of fear, I stopped myself and remained seated. A couple of my friends stood up and received the blessing, and at the time I regretted having not stood up. This moment was the first time that I desired to discern priesthood.

The 2010 summer passed, and my first year of college approached. At this point, the youth group community that I had so desired was dissolved and in my desolation I came close to losing my faith in God, and I abandoned Him Who loved me. In confusion as to where God was directing me, I briefly fell away from my Catholic faith. In this desolation, it seemed that God had abandoned me. It turned out to be quite the contrary; indeed, He loved me the whole time.

It took the suffering and holy death of my sister-in-law before I would finally surrender to God and say “Lord, let my life be done according to your will.” My sister-in-law, Angela Faddis, who was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer on Easter day of 2011, suffered seventeen months before the Lord raised her up into His eternal glory. In her surrender to God, I became faithful once again. Consequently, I contacted my vocation director, Fr. Paul Sullivan, with the Diocese of Phoenix in October 2012. It has been about a year and a half of discernment and I firmly believe that God has called me to Himself through all of this, and all I can respond back with is, "thank you, Lord".

Parish: Corpus Christi
High School: Desert Vista High School
Grade School: Estrella
Year in Seminary: College I
Name of Seminary You Are Attending Pontifical College Josephinum
Favorite Saint(s): St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Paul, St. Benedict, Pope St. Gregory the 1st, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Hilaire Belloc, St. Peter Julian Eymard, Pope Benedict XVI, St. Giovanni Melchior Bosco, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare of Assisi, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Bl. John Duns Scotus, St. Hildegard von Bingen, and Our Lady.

Eric Nanneman

I first felt God's calling me to a vocation when I was 16 years old during a week-long "Church Camp." Unfortunately, I never really took the calling very seriously or explored a vocation and as the years passed, it faded.
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Eric Nanneman

I first felt God's calling me to a vocation when I was 16 years old during a week-long "Church Camp." Unfortunately, I never really took the calling very seriously or explored a vocation and as the years passed, it faded.

Then, when I was 21, I entered into a physical relationship with a young woman and a few months later, we found out that she was pregnant. We soon received a beautiful son, Michael, but shortly after his birth, our relationship ended and we continued on as single parents.

Over the years, I struggled with my faith which often seemed to conflict with my chosen profession as a stockbroker, but the desire to raise my son in a loving Catholic household was a driving force in my life, and his mom and I made sure he received his sacraments and attended a strong Catholic school, St. Thomas the Apostle.

For me, I discovered Catholic Retreat for Young Singles (CRYS) and had a profound conversion experience on a retreat. I found that original call had reignited my soul, but as a single dad, I struggled with how to fulfill this calling, and so poured myself into service at my local parish and in the CRYS ministry: directing retreats and serving as president.

When my son graduated from high school and decided that he wanted to enlist in the military, I discovered that all the pieces of my life seemed to be “lining up” in order for me to apply to be a seminarian. And, twenty-five years after that original call, I was finally able to say “Yes.”

Parish: St. Thomas the Apostle
High School: Apollo High School
Grade School: St. Vincent de Paul
Year in Seminary: Pre-Theology
Name of Seminary You Are Attending Pontifical College Josephinum
Favorite Saint(s): St. Patrick, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and Blessed Miguel Pro

Fernando Camou

I grew up in a strong Catholic family and I knew a lot of priests personally. However, it wasn’t until I was in high school and joined a youth group (so I could receive the Sacrament of Confirmation) that I encountered Christ in a deep and personal way and I realized I must surrender my life to Him in some way…
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Fernando Camou

I grew up in a strong Catholic family and I knew a lot of priests personally. However, it wasn’t until I was in high school and joined a youth group (so I could receive the Sacrament of Confirmation) that I encountered Christ in a deep and personal way and I realized I must surrender my life to Him in some way. During the summer of 2004, I had the opportunity to sit down with a seminarian who was helping at the youth group and ask him about seminary. During our conversation, I felt a very strong call to join seminary and actively discern the priesthood. However, I delayed joining seminary for four years until the Lord shook me up and showed me that I had been hiding from my vocation and my relationship with Him was becoming secondary in my life. In May 2008, I finally was pulled by God to make a firm decision to discern the priesthood. After finally letting go of some things I had selfishly held on to, like a good relationship I had been in for almost four years as well as my studies in Civil Engineering, I applied for seminary in June 2008 and was accepted soon after as a seminarian for the Diocese of Phoenix. Since then, God has helped me see ever more clearly the gift of my vocation and He has given me a great love for the priesthood and indescribable peace and joy in my discernment.

Parish: Our Lady of Perpetual Help
High School: Home Schooled/Glendale Community College
Grade School: Home Schooled
Favorite Saint(s): Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, St. John Vianney, Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati

Ryan Lee

The first step in the call always begins in the home and that is precisely where it all started for me. The support, devotion, and love that my parents gave to me and to each other would inspire anyone to want to give back for all that they have been given by God. So at a very early age I felt a call to service but it was not until my third year of college that I was able to fully hear the invitation to seminary...
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Ryan Lee

The first step in the call always begins in the home and that is precisely where it all started for me. The support, devotion, and love that my parents gave to me and to each other would inspire anyone to want to give back for all that they have been given by God. So at a very early age I felt a call to service but it was not until my third year of college that I was able to fully hear the invitation to seminary. I pursued the military and law enforcement but they did not fully satisfy me, I wanted to do more. Then it occurred to me one day during adoration, why not live a life serving the One you love the most, God and His Church, in a life of selflessness, sacrifice, and service. I realized that I had been hearing the Lord knocking for many years but in order to open the door, I needed to quiet my soul in order to hear Him. I had been thinking and discerning for a long time but I discovered that the problem was I had never taken the time to sit down and just listen. To hear the Lord saying “Come follow me and do not be afraid.”

Parish: St. Thomas the Apostle
High School: Brophy College Preparatory
Grade School: St. Theresa Catholic School
Favorite Saint(s): St. Padre Pio, Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Sheunesu Bowora

As a child I never imagined I would be a priest. In fact priesthood or anything like it was the furthest thing from my mind. However, a deep conversion experience in my twenties made me realize how I was utterly loved by God. This understanding of God's love was so profound that I had to do something about it...
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Sheunesu Bowora

As a child I never imagined I would be a priest. In fact priesthood or anything like it was the furthest thing from my mind. However, a deep conversion experience in my twenties made me realize how I was utterly loved by God. This understanding of God's love was so profound that I had to do something about it. Priesthood was not immediately on the horizon, but through continued prayer, daily mass, regular confession and Eucharistic adoration, I began to discern a desire to share this love as a priest. This was an idea I had never had before. At first I resisted but after many years of prayer, I relented and gave it all to God as I chose to further discern his will in the seminary. Now I continue to discern and am growing in holiness day by day and through this hope to be what God calls me to be.

Parish: Most Holy Trinity
High School: Prince Edward School (Zimbabwe)
Grade School: Selborne Routledge School (Zimbabwe)
Favorite Saint(s): St. Francis Xavier and St. Therese Lisieux

Dan Connealy

I started discerning the priesthood after I graduated from high school. I was swimming for my college and realized that swimming was not something that would last forever. It was a lot of fun but was very temporary. I slowly started attending adoration and daily mass. Through these means I felt the call to do something more with my life, namely serving God's people…
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Dan Connealy

I started discerning the priesthood after I graduated from high school. I was swimming for my college and realized that swimming was not something that would last forever. It was a lot of fun but was very temporary. I slowly started attending adoration and daily mass. Through these means I felt the call to do something more with my life, namely serving God's people. After my sophomore year of college I entered the seminary to further discern God's will for me and it has been one of the biggest blessings of my life.

Parish: Most Holy Trinity
High School: Shadow Mountain
Grade School: Most Holy Trinity
Favorite Saint(s): St. John Vianney

David Loeffler

I have wanted to be a priest for as long as I can remember. When I was young I pretended to say Mass for my family (and reprimand them if they fell asleep during my homily). I always tell people that Psalm 16 is my vocation story in a nutshell: “He has put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land.” This love for the people of God has only deepened with time and experience…
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David Loeffler

I have wanted to be a priest for as long as I can remember. When I was young I pretended to say Mass for my family (and reprimand them if they fell asleep during my homily). I always tell people that Psalm 16 is my vocation story in a nutshell: “He has put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones who dwell in his land.” This love for the people of God has only deepened with time and experience. Though many people have encouraged me along the way, I would be remiss not to mention the influence of my Alma Mater, Franciscan University of Steubenville. There, in the Priestly Discernment Program, the Lord blessed me with wonderful friends and the experience of a truly Catholic culture. It was in my first year there that I really fell in love with the Blessed Mother. For the next four years she led me into a new depth of intimacy with Christ, a fantastic preparation for seminary formation. If there is one thing that I would like to share with any man considering a priestly vocation, it is this. Many people mistakenly think that a priest has given up the opportunity to fall in love. I want to be a priest precisely because I am already in love! It is truly marvelous, and I would not trade it for anything in the world! A vocation to the priesthood is the precious gift of Christ loving the Church with my heart.

Parish: St. Paul
High School: Yuma Catholic High School
Grade School: St. Francis of Assisi
Favorite Saint(s): Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, St. John Vianney, St. Francis of Assisi

Daniel Cruz

I studied applied biological sciences/secondary education at Arizona State University-Polytechnic Campus. My desire was to teach biology to high school students as the primary reason with the priesthood nowhere in site. However, during my studies, I served in various ministries throughout the church...
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Daniel Cruz

I studied applied biological sciences/secondary education at Arizona State University-Polytechnic Campus. My desire was to teach biology to high school students as the primary reason with the priesthood nowhere in site. However, during my studies, I served in various ministries throughout the church. In doing so, I noticed an inner peace began to stir in my heart every time I brought communion to the sick, prepared students for the sacraments of reconciliation and confirmation, teach in youth groups or experience the sacraments of reconciliation and communion. Finally, a day of discernment helped me realize my first aspiration should be to serve God. The life of the seminary and priesthood was an incredible consolation. Keep in mind this was during the Year of the Priests. And because of your prayers I’ve been given the grace to say yes as Mary our Mother so perfectly proclaimed.

Shortly after, I begged God to move my own self-centered will out of site and help me discover what I ought to do. I turned with great diligence to prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and simply asked: “Lord, what do you want from me?” After that simple request, the ensuing months directed me to apply to seminary. With the help of Our Lady, Mother of Priests, the incredible support of family, the parish prayers of Holy Cross church and the priests who reflect Jesus Christ and His ministry, I’m where the Lord wants me to be, in the seminary. Each day I go before the Lord and offer Him this choice as a beloved son to accept and confirm this special call to the priesthood if indeed it is for His greater service and praise.

Parish: Holy Cross
High School: Ray High School
Grade School: Ray Elementary School
Favorite Saint(s): St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed John Paul II & St. Matthew

Frank Cicero

The Lords call for my life was one that was a radical revelation of His love and mercy. There was never a thought growing up about seminary or opening my life up to God in this evangelical way. The first time the thought entered into my mind was June of 2009…
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Frank Cicero

The Lords call for my life was one that was a radical revelation of His love and mercy. There was never a thought growing up about seminary or opening my life up to God in this evangelical way. The first time the thought entered into my mind was June of 2009. I was always open to Gods love but only in the way that I wanted to receive it. My faith growing up was a strength, but the older I grew the weaker it became, until I was totally enveloped by the pleasures of this world. I was seeking a spiritual need in a physical place, though on the outside I perceived to have everything but what I really had was nothing. I was lonely and broken. It was only through great suffering that His mercy was able to captivate my soul, to take the brokenness in me and heal me through His divine love of the Eucharist. It was then that I was given the strength to truly stand and be not afraid to say yes to God.

Parish: St. Timothy
High School: Desert Mountain
Grade School: Sandpiper and Sonoran Sky Elementary
Favorite Saint(s): My mother and Fr. Charles Canterna, St. Faustina, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Augustine

Timothy Seavey

My journey of discernment towards the vocation of priesthood began when I was fairly young. My parents consistently encouraged my siblings and I to attend Mass regularly and participate in parish ministry. As far back as I can remember I have always been in complete awe of the beauty of God’s grace he offers through his priests…
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Timothy Seavey

My journey of discernment towards the vocation of priesthood began when I was fairly young. My parents consistently encouraged my siblings and I to attend Mass regularly and participate in parish ministry. As far back as I can remember I have always been in complete awe of the beauty of God’s grace he offers through his priests. Though discernment was indirectly fostered throughout my childhood, I had not been introduced to the concrete idea of entering in to seminary life and formation for priesthood until high school. It was then, in my sophomore year, by the prompting of the holy Sprit that I truly started praying about God’s will for my future and the call to serve him by sharing in his priesthood.

Staying close to our Lord Jesus Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and frequenting daily Mass seemed only to sustain the call to a vocation in the priesthood while I finished high school and my undergraduate studies. Through persistent prayer and the grace of God I have been led to enter more fully into discernment with the Church in seminary and continue grow closer to Christ. A special place in my heart for our Mother Mary has also given me great grace and consolation in doing whatever her son asks. I look forward to continuing to discern God’s will and the abundant graces that he has in store for me in the future.

Parish: St. Timothy
High School: Cactus Shadows High School
Grade School: Zuni Elementary School
Favorite Saint(s): Our Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, St. John of the Cross, St. Terese of Lisieux, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa

Chris Gossen

I was raised Catholic and my parents had taken me to Mass since I was a baby. In middle school, I joined my parish choir and youth group and I began to hear from people at my parish that I would either become a Youth Minister or Priest. That was a little scary at the time and I ran from the thought…
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Chris Gossen

I was raised Catholic and my parents had taken me to Mass since I was a baby. In middle school, I joined my parish choir and youth group and I began to hear from people at my parish that I would either become a Youth Minister or Priest. That was a little scary at the time and I ran from the thought. However, in 2009 I felt the Holy Spirit call me to become active in the Church. I began volunteering with the youth group at my parish and eventually became Youth Minister and working at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in HR. The thought of seminary and the Priesthood entered my mind again in 2009 and further developed through prayerful discernment, attending and serving at daily Mass, praying Liturgy of the Hours and meeting some of the Phoenix seminarians.

I attended a retreat on Joy in Vocations in which the Retreat Master said you can’t discern two vocations at the same time, and that you should trust God and take a jump. I began to experience a deep sense of peace and I spoke with the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Rev. Paul Sullivan, and applied to the seminary. Since being at the seminary I have come to recognize the constant role God has played throughout my life. I am deeply grateful to all those who have supported me throughout the years and who have made an impact on my discernment. St. John Vianney, Patron of Priests, Pray for us.

Parish: St. Bernard of Clairvaux
High School: Desert Mountain
Grade School: Cochise
Favorite Saint(s): St. Joseph; St. Patrick; St. Bernard of Clairvaux; St. John of the Cross; St. Therese of Lisieux; St. John Vianney

Vinhson Nguyen

When I was growing up I wanted to become a priest in the same way a lot of kids wanted to be astronauts and firefighters. The problem was that I didn’t stop to think about what God wanted me to be until a couple of years ago. It was a big change in my life that pushed me to learn more about myself and what God made me for…
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Vinhson Nguyen

When I was growing up I wanted to become a priest in the same way a lot of kids wanted to be astronauts and firefighters. The problem was that I didn’t stop to think about what God wanted me to be until a couple of years ago. It was a big change in my life that pushed me to learn more about myself and what God made me for. I found myself praying more often, going to mass daily and going to confession regularly. It was when I’d be praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration and at mass that the thought of priesthood always came to mind. It was when I attended last year’s ordination (2010) that I was moved to finally respond to this call. I met with Fr. Paul, the vocations director, and opened a line of communication with him. It was through him that I met other men discerning their vocation. Spending time with other discerners was encouraging because we shared a lot of the same experiences and thoughts about the entering seminary.

For anyone discerning their vocation I believe there are two things that are most important. They are participation in the sacraments and prayer. I believe that the more we encounter Christ in communion, confession and prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament the more apparent our vocation will become.

Parish: Ressurrection
High School: Mesquite High School
Grade School: Gilbert Elementary
Favorite Saint(s): Sts. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Paul, John Vianney and Philomena

Kevin Penkalski

I have to accredit my desire to be a priest to Mary. One night I really was at the end of my rope and I prayed a Rosary as seriously as I could, pleading that Mary would reveal what and who God desired me to be. The next day, I served a Christmas Day Mass, and a man I never met before told me, 'You should consider the priesthood'…
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Kevin Penkalski

I have to accredit my desire to be a priest to Mary. One night I really was at the end of my rope and I prayed a Rosary as seriously as I could, pleading that Mary would reveal what and who God desired me to be. The next day, I served a Christmas Day Mass, and a man I never met before told me, 'You should consider the priesthood.' A couple months later, I ran into a priest that was a long time friend of my pastor, and the first thing he said to me was, 'Get into seminary!' Then it was just tons of people saying, 'You might want to consider the priesthood.' My heart was filling up with the idea of living like a priest, celebrating the Eucharist being the top thing that was on my mind. I was dying to fulfill this yearning, and I decided to let the Vocations Director know.

We decide I should go to Arizona State University, and continue discerning. I wanted to really test this desire, and so I became very involved with the Newman Center. I realized that I needed to grow as a man first, so I let down my guard, and allowed people to show me how much I needed to grow. It was hard, but even with people highly skeptical of my desire, I never gave up hope. After the Day of Discernment in 2010 I knew I needed to apply. I was accepted about four months later.

Parish: Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
High School: Boulder Creek High School
Grade School: New River Elementary School
Favorite Saint(s): Mary, Bl. John Paul II, St. Nicholas von Flüe, St. Michael, St. James, St. Jude, St. Louise de Montfort, St. Therese of Lisieux , Archbishop Fluton Sheen

Nathaniel Glenn

For as long as I can remember, priesthood has always been on my mind. It was on and off in my childhood, but when I was around 12 years old, I began reading books on Catholic doctrine that explained what we believe and why we believe it. I absolutely fell in love with the Catholic faith, and my discernment of the priesthood really grew out of that…
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Nathaniel Glenn

For as long as I can remember, priesthood has always been on my mind. It was on and off in my childhood, but when I was around 12 years old, I began reading books on Catholic doctrine that explained what we believe and why we believe it. I absolutely fell in love with the Catholic faith, and my discernment of the priesthood really grew out of that.

One of the biggest factors in my discernment has been prayer. By developing a steady prayer life (starting out with praying a rosary every night), I grew in a relationship with God. It was in this relationship that I felt him strongly calling me to serve him, especially in moments of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and in communal praise and worship. Prayer is indispensable if you want to discern what God’s will is for your life, priesthood or otherwise.

Throughout my teen years, my vocation was also strengthened by my environment: I attended St. Mary’s High School and met other strong Catholic men and women; I joined the local Life Teen youth group and entered into communion with other growing Catholics; I became a lector, altar server, and Eucharistic Minister at my local parish. By surrounding myself with people and activities that helped me to grow closer to God, I also grew closer to the idea that this same God might be calling me to serve him in the priesthood.

Parish: Corpus Christi
High School: Saint Mary's High School
Grade School: Kyrene Del Akimel A-al Middle School
Favorite Saint(s): St. Therese of Lisiuex, Padre Pio

Estevan Wetzel

Faith has always been an integral part of my life. It was in 6th grade that I began to altar serve and become fascinated with the Mass. As I became more involved in my faith with retreats, Steubenville conferences, and youth group, I literally fell in love with the Lord and his Church…
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Estevan Wetzel

Faith has always been an integral part of my life. It was in 6th grade that I began to altar serve and become fascinated with the Mass. As I became more involved in my faith with retreats, Steubenville conferences, and youth group, I literally fell in love with the Lord and his Church. This love of God allowed me to hear the whisper of God asking me to discern the priesthood.

I had no intention of going to seminary until December of my Senior year. Fr. Paul hosts a Day of Discernment every year and I attended it with an open heart. I prayed that God would show me what he wanted to show me because I was a little lost on where I would go for college. While the priest was talking about seminary, I felt this deep, gnawing feeling compelling me to apply. I went home and prayed about it. While I was praying, I felt this peace and joy about this prospect of seminary. I applied, was accepted, and am excited to see what God has in store for me.

For me, the key has always been prayer. There have also been countless people who have given me words of encouragement and been holy examples of what it is to live the faith. I pray that through this time at seminary, I will grow into the man God wants me to be and be able to eventually follow the footsteps of the great saints before us.

Parish: Most Holy Trinity
High School: Saint Mary's High School
Grade School: Most Holy Trinity
Favorite Saint(s): Pope John Paul II, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Pius X

Harold Escarcega

Stemming from the strong foundations in the Catholic faith that my family fostered in me, I began to feel my calling in high school. I consider myself very blessed, having had there the opportunity to delve deep into the writings of many prevalent philosophers throughout Western history…
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Harold Escarcega

Stemming from the strong foundations in the Catholic faith that my family fostered in me, I began to feel my calling in high school. I consider myself very blessed, having had there the opportunity to delve deep into the writings of many prevalent philosophers throughout Western history. I began to find that all of the philosophies I was reading, especially those of Aristotle, were resonating deeply within me, and were fostering in my soul a desire to be a good, virtuous person; by God’s grace, these desires found their natural counterpart – my Catholic faith – and quickly became embedded in it. Consequently, my desires for “virtue” and “goodness” were transformed into a deep love for God and a desire to serve Him. This desire to serve Him, by the gentle caresses of His call, slowly became what I thought was a calling to the Catholic priesthood. Following my graduation, I attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Being in an excellent Catholic environment, it was easy to hear God’s voice as He entreated me all the more to enter seminary formation. After only one semester, I truly knew that God was calling me to put aside my worries and qualms, and do just that. I applied and was accepted during my Spring semester to the Pontifical College Josephinum, and now find myself studying in the program for priestly formation - truly at peace with my discernment and overjoyed to follow God’s call to drop everything and “come follow me” (Mark 1:17).

Parish: St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette
High School: Veritas Preparatory Academy
Grade School: Homeschooled
Favorite Saint(s): St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Bl. Pope John Paul II and Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Gabriel Terrill

I have always wanted to be a priest. When I was young many people believed the priesthood was my vocation.These were also the people, both clergy and layperson alike, who inspired me to discern the priesthood. I was raised in a strong Catholic family and I was well formed by my parents and siblings…
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Gabriel Terrill

I have always wanted to be a priest. When I was young many people believed the priesthood was my vocation.These were also the people, both clergy and layperson alike, who inspired me to discern the priesthood. I was raised in a strong Catholic family and I was well formed by my parents and siblings. Later in life I got involved in altar serving and church ministry and took a liking to it. I also started writing to a seminarian when I was in middle school and was able to attend his ordination to the priesthood. In 2011 I went on a pilgrimage in Spain and attended world youth day. It was there that my desire to discern the priesthood grew even stronger and when I got back from Spain I visited the Pontifical College Josphinum Seminary. After seeing what the seminary was like I put in my application to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Phoenix. I was blessed to have Bishop Olmsted accept me and I am now in my 1st year of college. I look forward to whatever path God has planned for me.

Parish: Mary Magdeline/Holy Cross
High School: Homeschooled
Grade School: Homeschooled
Favorite Saint(s): St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Jose Maria Escriva, St. John Vianney, Blessed Pope John Paul 2

Evan Barraza

It began during my junior year of high school when I first experienced both a personal encounter of the living Christ and a calling from our Lord to attend seminary. It was a Kairos retreat with my youth group where I learned the workings of Jesus in my everyday personal life. During a particular theology class my junior year the Lord planted a seed of my heart's desire for Christ's priesthood...
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Evan Barraza

It began during my junior year of high school when I first experienced both a personal encounter of the living Christ and a calling from our Lord to attend seminary. It was a Kairos retreat with my youth group where I learned the workings of Jesus in my everyday personal life. During a particular theology class my junior year the Lord planted a seed of my heart's desire for Christ's priesthood. From then on, this call grew stronger in my heart. I attended Arizona State after high school where I eventually grew in my prayer life and learned how to truly listen to Christ's invitation to apply to seminary. In particular, I felt as though life outside priestly formation was utterly confusing and made me feel stoic. I relied on the power of Our Lady and the Holy Rosary to comfort me in this confusion and this time of prayer led me to fully participating at the Newman Center with FOCUS, eventually moving in with St. Paul's Outreach.

It took a lot of courage and growing throughout high school to realize the power of the Truth that is Christ Jesus and the freedom He gives if I only surrendered all of my desires and thoughts to Him. It was then made clear that my journey to seminary would begin.

Parish: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral
High School: Bourgade Catholic High School
Grade School: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School
Favorite Saint(s): Our Lady of Guadalupe, my Guardian Angel, St. Michael, St. Therese of Lisieux, Padre Pio, Blessed John Paul II, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Anthony of Egypt.

Anthony Dang

I have had desires of becoming a priest ever since I was a little boy. When I was little, I would pretend to be a priest and give out Communion. When I started middle school, I stopped thinking about the priesthood. I was struggling in life at that time. Sometimes, I would feel depressed and empty. I was trying to find something that would fill my heart…
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Anthony Dang

I have had desires of becoming a priest ever since I was a little boy. When I was little, I would pretend to be a priest and give out Communion. When I started middle school, I stopped thinking about the priesthood. I was struggling in life at that time. Sometimes, I would feel depressed and empty. I was trying to find something that would fill my heart.

My life started to change in high school. During my freshman year of high school, my grandpa got into a car accident. That event prompted me to pray the rosary every day. A year later, something made me think about the priesthood again. One night, I decided to pray the rosary. Thoughts about the priesthood entered my mind. From then on, I decided to strive to become holy by praying more and helping out my parish. I started to feel better about myself. I realized God can fill up my emptiness.

However, I had trouble accepting that I could possibly be a priest. That changed when I went to a day of discernment retreat. Afterwards, I felt peace thinking about the priesthood. The next summer, I contacted the vocations director, Fr. Paul Sullivan. He helped me out by answering all of the questions I had. A couple of months later, I applied for the seminary and I got accepted. I am now entering my first year of seminary. I am excited for what God has in store for me in the future.

Parish: Resurrection
High School: McClintock High School
Grade School: Bustoz Elementary School
Favorite Saint(s): St. Anthony of Padua, St. Mary, St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Ian Wintering

My journey that lead to where I am today didn’t really begin until I started going to Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. At the beginning of my senior year, one of my friends had been encouraging me to go on this retreat that Seton had twice a year. The retreat was called Kairos. I knew very little about the retreat so I thought that I might as well give it a shot. The impact this retreat had on me was indescribable. It was like a ton of bricks had fallen on top of me. I had never felt so loved by my parents and by God than I did when I came home from that retreat...
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Ian Wintering

My journey that lead to where I am today didn’t really begin until I started going to Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. At the beginning of my senior year, one of my friends had been encouraging me to go on this retreat that Seton had twice a year. The retreat was called Kairos. I knew very little about the retreat so I thought that I might as well give it a shot. The impact this retreat had on me was indescribable. It was like a ton of bricks had fallen on top of me. I had never felt so loved by my parents and by God than I did when I came home from that retreat. For the first time I realized that God was thirsting for a personal relationship with me. I realized that my faith was the reason for living. It was after that retreat that I decided to take my faith seriously. It was also on these retreats that I first began to seriously consider my calling to the priesthood.

The summer after my freshman year in college, I felt like I need to talk to a priest. So I called my pastor, Fr. Will and made an appointment with him. I unloaded everything and told him how I felt. He then asked me if I would be willing to live in the rectory with him as a discernment process. I was so overwhelmed with joy. It wasn’t long after that that I had moved in, and began the application process. Every passing day my desire for the priesthood grows stronger. My love and desire for Christ has far surpassed any of my own ambitions. My prayer life, love for the eucharist, and love for the sacraments has never been stronger.

Parish: St. Mary Magdalene
High School: Seton Catholic Preparatory
Grade School: St.Timothy's Catholic Academy
Favorite Saint(s): Our Lady, St.John Bosco, St.Elizabeth Ann Seton, St.Padre Pio, St.Mary Magdalene

Michael Villanueva

From an early age, I knew clearly that, one day, I was destined to be the red power-ranger. When I discovered the power-rangers weren't real, though, I went on to dream of other worthy pursuits like being a firefighter, playing in the NBA, performing on Broadway and the big screen, and serving the country in politics. Looking back at these, two common themes are present: our natural human desire for greatness and meaning along with an understanding that this desire is fulfilled only through loving and serving others...
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Michael Villanueva

From an early age, I knew clearly that, one day, I was destined to be the red power-ranger. When I discovered the power-rangers weren't real, though, I went on to dream of other worthy pursuits like being a firefighter, playing in the NBA, performing on Broadway and the big screen, and serving the country in politics. Looking back at these, two common themes are present: our natural human desire for greatness and meaning along with an understanding that this desire is fulfilled only through loving and serving others.

Up until my senior year of high school, however, I was always concerned with the question, 'What do I want to be?' I never took the time to consider, 'What is God calling me to be?' Through countless personal, prayerful, and powerful encounters with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I have changed.

Daily prayer with God and regular participation in the Sacraments has led me to believe that God may be calling me to love and serve Him, in a particular way, as His priest. Even more so, I know and believe with my whole heart that God is calling me, as He calls all of us, to be a person of prayer, to be a person who loves and serves Him in everything, and ultimately... to be a saint.

Truly, our most important mission in life is to seek and live out God's will, for His will is nothing but His undying love for each and every one of us.

Parish: St. Rose Philippine Duchense
High School: Boulder Creek High School
Grade School: St. Michael's Catholic
Favorite Saint(s): Mama, St. Joseph, St. Michael the Archangel, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Maximilian Kolbe, Sts. Francis and Clare, Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila, St. Cecilia, Sts. Peter and Paul, Almost St. John Paul the Great, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Blessed Imelda, Blessed Jose Sanchez Del Rio, Blessed Chiara 'Luce' Badano, and of course, my mom.

Andy Miller

I was born and raised in a Catholic family; my father especially was very faithful and participated in the choir at Mass. While we prayed before meals and bedtime, and my mother would bring my sister and I to Sunday Mass, the Faith was not greatly emphasized throughout my childhood. As a young child I always desired to be good person, and I was wise enough to recognize that the epitome of goodness was in following Christ. While I struggled to read the Bible and tried to pay attention at Mass, I prayed daily. But again, besides receiving First Holy Communion and first Reconciliation, the Faith nor the sacraments were greatly emphasized...
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Andy Miller

I was born and raised in a Catholic family; my father especially was very faithful and participated in the choir at Mass. While we prayed before meals and bedtime, and my mother would bring my sister and I to Sunday Mass, the Faith was not greatly emphasized throughout my childhood. As a young child I always desired to be good person, and I was wise enough to recognize that the epitome of goodness was in following Christ. While I struggled to read the Bible and tried to pay attention at Mass, I prayed daily. But again, besides receiving First Holy Communion and first Reconciliation, the Faith nor the sacraments were greatly emphasized.

By the time I got to high school I knew that I did not know my faith well yet I considered myself faithful and even described myself as religious. My faith was challenged by several of my Mormon friends whom I realized knew more about Catholicism than I did. I knew I had to step up my game. I began attending church several times a week and studying the parts of the Mass. For the first time I began to recognize the richness of the Church. I was eventually confirmed through adult formation classes about the time I graduated from high school. Through college I studied history which further contributed to my interest in the Church.

Receiving the graces at Confirmation was a huge turning point in my life and is when I first began to consider the idea of vocation. I became greatly involved at my parish including participating in the Knights of Columbus and running the sound board at Sunday Mass. Learning more about the role of the priest piqued my interest and I began reading vocation materials, hiding them from my parents at first. In adoration one day I prayed, “Lord, please open the doors for me in the direction you want me to go and close the doors for me in the direction you do not want me to go.” It was a very powerful prayer. After six years of discerning through college, work, and relationships (and even an engagement to be married) I knew God was calling me to take the next step in following Him and enter seminary.

Parish: St. Thomas More
High School: Sandra Day O'Connor High School
Grade School: Desert Sage Elementary
Favorite Saint(s): St. Andrew, St. James the Greater, St. Lawrence, St. Apollonia, St. Mary of Egypt, St. Augustine, St. Thomas More, St. Damien of Molokai.

John Nahrgang

I didn't grow up Catholic but clearly remember attending my first Mass. I tagged along with a hockey teammate and his family one Sunday morning after a sleepover. There, at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the Blessed Virgin Mary apparently took notice of the ten-year-old boy not accustomed to kneeling in a pew. I attended public schools and grew into an agnostic with a strong desire to attend the University of Notre Dame...
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John Nahrgang

I didn't grow up Catholic but clearly remember attending my first Mass. I tagged along with a hockey teammate and his family one Sunday morning after a sleepover. There, at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the Blessed Virgin Mary apparently took notice of the ten-year-old boy not accustomed to kneeling in a pew. I attended public schools and grew into an agnostic with a strong desire to attend the University of Notre Dame. There, the Blessed Mother began asserting her presence in my life, most notably as Our Lady of Guadalupe when I spent a semester living and studying in Mexico. Six years later, I was accepted into the Catholic Church at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A year after that, God gently invited me to begin exploring a vocation to the priesthood. I spent three years in formation with a wonderful Marian religious community, during which time God began steering my discernment towards diocesan priesthood. Armed with sufficient clarity on that question and mindful of both a desire for Hispanic ministry and my parents’ future, which involved retirement in Arizona, I asked God to confirm an application process for the Diocese of Phoenix. He did so and I am now at peace with my new path, grateful for the love and support of my adoptive diocese, and hopeful for a wonderful future as a Catholic priest under the patronage and mantle of our Blessed Mother.

Parish: OLPH - Glendale
High School: Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
Grade School: Glen Lake (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
Favorite Saint(s): Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Faustina, St. Philomena, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, Bl. George Matulaitis