Recently, Abide talked discernment with Quinn, a 22-year-old U of A student. In this interview, Quinn shares about his discernment journey.
Abide: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Quinn: I am currently twenty-two years old, completing my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Alberta with a major in Philosophy. I was originally studying for the diocesan priesthood, but am now discerning a call to a society of priests called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), known primarily for celebrating the Tridentine Liturgy. God willing, I will enter the Fraternity next September.Growing up in Calgary, I was an active child and especially enjoyed going to the Rocky Mountains. My true passion, however, lay in the piano, to which I devoted myself for hours daily with the hope of becoming a concert artist. But God had other plans, redirecting my love for music to a love for Him.
Abide: Has your faith always played a big role in your life?
Quinn: Quite the opposite, actually. Throughout my pre-adulthood, the extent of my involvement in the Catholic faith was receiving the sacrament of baptism as an infant and going to Mass a few times with my relatives. The Catholic faith was merely a cultural aspect in my family, as I’m sure it is for many young people nowadays. That’s not to say that I wasn’t raised in a loving family that taught good values. I was always interested, nevertheless, in the meaning of life, and I sought out the truth. Even when I briefly adopted atheism as an adolescent, it was because I was looking for the truth, though misdirected, clearly. Through God’s Mercy, I converted back to Christianity just before my eighteenth birthday and my first year of university, and came back to the Catholic faith specifically soon after. I wish for all youth, especially those who doubt their faith as I had doubted, that they would turn to God with trust in His Mercy.
Abide: When did you first consider the possibility of a priestly vocation? Where are you at this point in your journey of discernment?
Quinn: I first considered the possibility of a priestly vocation soon after my conversion, that is, around November 2011, when I started to feel a desire to give myself to Our Lord. At first, I wasn’t sure whether this strange attraction to the priesthood was merely the consequence of extra enthusiasm from my recent conversion, or whether God was truly calling me to this more perfect way of life. Although I weighed equally both possibilities, in my heart I believed that God was in fact calling me to the priesthood. In one respect, I was very surprised that I could have a vocation to the priesthood considering how far I had come as a pianist, but in another respect, the thought of serving God in the priesthood gave me a sense of consolation.
At this point in my journey of discernment, having discerned the diocesan priesthood for two years, I am now considering a vocation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a clerical society dedicated to the formation and sanctification of priests with a spirituality centered around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, also known as the Latin Mass. My own discernment goes to show you that discernment is not always easy and clear, nor should it be. Part of discernment is the constant searching and carrying-out of God’s Will in both big and small matters.
Abide: What do you think will be the biggest challenge of your vocation? What do you think will be the greatest reward?
Quinn: I think the biggest challenge of my vocation will be overcoming my own pride and selfish desires hindering me from giving myself unconditionally to God and to the mission of saving souls. The office of priesthood especially demands heroic sacrifices and self-denial, as the priest is called not only to take up his cross, but to embrace it with an ardent love for and trust in God the Father, in imitation of Jesus Christ. Although this may sound disheartening, Our Lord has assured us that “you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:30)
I think the greatest reward of my vocation—other than God Himself—will be leading others back to God, for Whom they were created, amidst this largely God-forsaking culture. There is a restlessness in our culture as people constantly search for the next thing the world has to offer. Yet, I hope to bring people to recognize that “our heart is restless, until it rests in You, O Lord.” (St. Augustine, Confessions)
Abide: Do you have any advice for other young people who are discerning a call to consecrated life?
Quinn: Simply do what God always calls everyone to do: “In whatever situations we happen to be,” says St. Francis de Sales “we can and must aspire to the life of perfection.” You must strive with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, to become the person God is calling you to be, which is a saint. And with a patient surrender, you will find not only that your calling will become more clear, but also that you will have the courage to carry it out. There is no easy way to go about discernment, and you will certainly encounter trials, but Jesus has reassured us, saying “take courage, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
When our crucified Lord said “I thirst”, he was referring to His thirst for souls and for those who would consecrate themselves to His service in saving souls. May you respond to that precious call, and may God be glorified in all things.