2017 — IV Theology

Dc. Stephen Hart, Christ the King Church, Little Rock

Attends St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana

When I meet new people, I am often asked when I first knew that God was calling me to the priesthood. The truth is that, in one way or another, I have felt called to the priesthood since before I can remember.

Growing up in Christ the King parish in Little Rock, I was surrounded by holy priests, good examples in the community, and an excellent family who taught me how to love Jesus Christ and to follow his call. After graduating college in 2011, I became a seminarian for the Diocese of Little Rock.

My path toward priesthood has taught me quite a bit about God, his people, and his plan for my life. There have certainly been many challenges along the way: transitioning to different living situations; changes in studies; and a formation process that seeks to make me “all things to all people” for the sake of the Church.

All have been difficult but rewarding ventures in my faith journey. Additionally, now that I am a deacon and am less than a year out from priesthood, I find myself becoming increasingly focused on preparing for this next step in my vocation while also living out the mission of my diaconal ministry.

Through all of these, however, shines God’s constant love and support, which comes to me in innumerable ways. During these past few years in the seminary, I have had the opportunity to grow in knowledge and the experience of having an intentional, daily prayer life with God, one which is rooted in the sacraments and a time for quiet, personal prayer.

Even by itself, this has opened new doors for understanding the depths of his care for me and for all his children, but I have also been able to see this same love in action when I have been among his people in my pastoral assignments. I understand more and more now that everything begins and ends with prayer.

I would be remiss, however, not to mention another way that I have received God’s love during my seminary years: the great people of our diocese. I remember being truly amazed during my first summer as a seminarian at the generosity, joy and hope of the Catholics of Arkansas.

Although I am no less amazed by this today than I was back then, I do find myself more grateful than ever that God has called me to serve him here in my home state. My hope is that, as a priest, I may be able to pass on to the people of Arkansas that same Catholic faith that I myself have been blessed to receive.

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