On a cloudy day in 1966 I was sitting in the backseat of the family car as I accompanied my parents on one of our frequent drives. I was ten years old and hoped one day to become an astronaut. Imagine then my surprise when my mother turned around, looked at me and said, "You're going to be a priest." My response was a startled, "Really? Do you think so?!" She nodded thoughtfully and said, "Yes, I think so."
It was a remarkable moment that is stamped indelibly in my memory! Though as far as I can recall my mother made no further reference to my having a vocation to the priesthood, I am convinced she planted a potent seed in my heart on that cloudy day.
As a child I was taken every Sunday to Mass and went regularly to confession. I loved reading the Bible stories and was fairly pious. However, I still wanted to be an astronaut and had little interest in the priesthood.
During my teens I drifted from the faith and like many others in my generation explored radical politics and eastern religions. I was especially interested in Buddhism, but proved to be rather bad at meditation. In university I studied psychology and in my third year returned to faith in Jesus Christ and the reception of the sacraments.
After graduation I spent two years as a Community Organization Worker in a rough area of Hamilton. I found the work very rewarding, but nonetheless felt unfulfilled. Several people, independent of each other, told me they thought I had a vocation to the priesthood. My mother's words from years before returned to me and my heart was filled with peace at the idea of becoming a priest. I spoke with Father Roger Formosi, the diocesan vocation director at the time, and he encouraged me to apply to St. Peter's Seminary in London. With the blessing of Bishop Paul Reding I did and was accepted for the 1983-84 academic year.
I loved the five years I spent discerning, studying and making lifelong friendships at St. Peter's. By the end of my seminary career I felt more certain than ever that I wanted to be a priest. Bishop Anthony Tonnos accepted my petition for ordination and made me a priest of the Hamilton Diocese on May 7, 1988.
I have never regretted becoming a priest and am very happy with this share Jesus has given me in his own unique priesthood. To celebrate the sacraments, most especially the Eucharist, to proclaim the Gospel and preach in the name of Christ and His Church, as well as to accompany my brothers and sisters through both their darkest and happiest times, all these have proven to be inexhaustible sources of joy.
It is with some trepidation, as well as happiness, that in answer to the invitation of our present ordinary Bishop, His Excellency Bishop Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., D.D., I take on the ministry of vocation director for the Diocese of Hamilton. My predecessor, Father Wojciech Kuzma, is an outstanding man and priest who did wonderful work encouraging and fostering vocations. I rely on his example and will seek to build on the foundation he and many others (Father Kevin Cull, Father Mark Gatto, Father Charlie Jordan, Father Mike Downey, Monsignor Roger Formosi, ...) have laid.
Please pray for me as I begin this important and challenging work.