4/24/2016 – 5th Sunday of Easter

During the rite of ordination for priests, the bishop says “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”  As a seminarian for the Archdiocese, I am so appreciative for what you and everyone in the Archdiocese does through the Annual Catholic Appeal to fund the training and teaching of future priests.  My hope is to share for a few minutes some fruits of your past contributions to the Appeal, and then ask that you would give to the Appeal this year to continue bringing your past contributions to fulfillment.

Born and raised in Mill Creek, located just south of Everett, I grew up attending Saint Brendan’s in Bothell where Fr Jim Northrup is currently pastor.  While receiving all of my sacraments there, I also attended the parish school and then was sent to Archbishop Murphy High School.  Upon graduating, I went to Gonzaga University to get an Accounting degree and then took a job as a real estate appraiser for three years, which is something I really enjoyed.  Yet, while in college and then in the workforce, a sense of peace regarding the seminary grew, and I entered in August 2013.  I finished up philosophy studies for a year at Mount Angel where I got to know Cody Ross, and began working toward a theology degree at Mundelein Seminary, where Jeffrey Moore is also.

A significant portion of Appeal contributions pay for our education as seminarians, and I would like to say that the money has gone to good use and will continue to do so.  It is a privilege to study in an environment where so many people are geared toward the same goal, the salvation of souls.  In some ways it even leads to certain conveniences, such as not having to worry about eating meat on Fridays in Lent, since it isn’t served in the cafeteria on those days.  Seminary life is quite rigorous when factoring in ministries away from the seminary, prayer, in addition to an academic work load equivalent to that of other universities.  In the midst of these rigors, it is a joyful and energetic place since so many people united in the effort to build up the Kingdom and connect people to Jesus Christ.  Overall, the seminary is forming us to be bridges to Jesus Christ, and nudging us each day toward turning our lives over to Him.

In these three years, and especially these last two months since entering seminary, a love for what’s coming in the priesthood has grown.  Seminary formation builds toward an extended time in a parish, where we get to really “try on the priesthood”.  During the meetings Fr. Jim and I had preparing for this time here, I expressed to him the nerves I had about serving in the parish, given my perceived lack of parish experience.  Far from being nerve-wracking experiences though, the opportunities here at St. Michael’s to teach in the Adult Confirmation program, spend time with the middle schoolers at EDGE and the school kids, giving reflections on Scripture passages, and hearing people out in the midst of their struggles with faith or life itself, have been life-giving experiences.  In short, those nerves have been replaced by the Holy Spirit, which has been so humbling to experience myself while also seeing the Holy Spirit work through so many of you at this parish. Your willingness to welcome me into the parish and provide advice with the many questions I’ve asked makes clear why this parish has such a long tradition of receiving young priests and seminarians.  Further, this experience has also provided confirmation of what the Lord was up to in nudging me toward this vocation.  For that, I am so grateful for that willingness to welcome me into this parish, your prayers that are so essential, and for your financial support.

When reflecting on how my life has changed since entering seminary, it is apparent that what we do and where we live costs money.  Given the ministry experiences we get to have on evenings and during summers, in addition to setting time aside for personal prayer and spiritual direction, it would be impossible to do this working full-time as well.  In addition, the professors’ salaries, the priest-formators, room and board, as well as a small stipend for books and transportation are all resources that we could not possibly afford on our own.  Your support is critical to funding the training of seminarians as future priests, as well as the many other ministries and services provided by the Archdiocese of Seattle.  Today I am asking each one of you to commit to making a gift to the Annual Catholic Appeal.  We each have a role to play, no matter how large or small, as the Lord calls all of us to contribute from all our gifts, talents, and blessings.

Our parish goal from the Archdiocese is just over $283,000.  We are seeking an additional $60,000 that would be returned here to St. Michael for use by St. Vincent de Paul, our Shoulder to Shoulder program assisting parishioners, and to set aside funds for the upcoming renovation.  The Archdiocese asks each of us to consider the pledge of One dollar per day, or $365.  Further, by each contributing to sacrificial giving, this parish continues to show the amazing ways we can support building the Kingdom by pooling our resources.

I would like you to join me filling out an envelope, or feel free to use your smartphone to donate online or via the QR code.  There are a variety of ways to make your pledge: credit or debit card, electronic funds transfer, stock, charitable fund, or by check.  You can also donate online via the web address or the QR code shown on the front of the envelope.  As for the envelopes, the front asks for basic information and then your pledge amount.  This pledge could be a one-time gift, or a commitment to giving over the course of the year. If paying by with a card or electronically, you’ll find an opportunity to fill in information for them underneath the flap.  While allotting some time for you to fill out the envelopes, I would like to mention that no one parish can provide for programs like CYO, Diaconate formation, the Newman center at Western Washington University, and of course, seminarian formation.

I thank you today in advance for your support of the Annual Catholic Appeal.  All of us seminarians are so appreciative of your past support.  You are the ones who provide the opportunity for me and my brother seminarians to give ourselves completely toward being formed as priests.  In doing so again this year, you will continue making possible the moment when I will hear at St. James Cathedral in a couple years, “May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment.”  God Bless