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Catholic Diocese of Little Rock
I am very blessed to come from such a great family. Growing up, my parents made it a priority to attend Mass as often as possible. Every night we would pray together as a family. Going to a Catholic school all the way from K-12 was a huge blessing and a big part in my faith life.
The many great teachers of Christ the King and Catholic High had a big influence on me, as well as my former pastor, Msgr. Francis Malone (now Bishop Malone). Having a 24/7 adoration chapel at my home parish was also a great blessing for me. Through these experiences and the many great people I met, I was able to develop a great relationship with God from an early age and able to grow in it as I grew up.
I first felt the call to the priesthood when I was in the fifth grade. My older brother, Father Stephen Elser, joined the seminary when I was in the third grade and at that time I didn’t really understand what the seminary was. In fifth grade I started to have a better understanding of the seminary and I then started to think about becoming a priest.
Almost every time I went to Mass, I would think about me being the priest and how cool that would be one day. As I grew up, I continued to think about the priesthood very often. When I was in high school I started to really pray about it. I also started talking to my older brother about the priesthood much more and was very excited to hear him talk about it.
Senior year of high school was very tough for me. I wasn’t sure if I should play college football or go straight to the seminary out of high school. Through much prayer and guidance from priests, I felt the Lord was telling me to go and try out football first. So after I graduated high school in 2018, I decided that I would attend the University of Arkansas and walk-on the football team.
That experience was one I always will remember, and I am grateful to the coaches for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the team. When I left the University of Arkansas at the end of the 2019 spring semester, I knew it was time to enter the seminary. I was ready and very excited to finally start this journey. After making the decision to join the seminary, I felt so much peace and joy. The amount of support I have received from family and friends is overwhelming.
I started seminary in the fall of 2019 at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio, Texas. Going into seminary I didn’t really know what to expect, but I quickly learned that prayer and a personal relationship with Jesus is the most important part of seminary. It has been a tremendous blessing this first year of seminary for me to have the opportunity to go to eucharistic adoration whenever I desire. One of my favorite things to do in eucharistic adoration is pray the rosary. It is through the prayer of the rosary the Blessed Mother guides us closer to her Son.
When we approach Mary, she approaches us, and because Mary is more closely united with Our Lord than any other creature, she approaches us in the company of Christ. My love for the rosary has grown tremendously this past year and some saints even call the rosary the most powerful prayer ever. Eucharistic adoration is something I look forward to everyday. I’ve learned that our Lord so much desires our presence with him. He wants us to simply just be with him even if we don’t have any words to say. Simply just being in his presence is extremely powerful and this is where I have drawn my strength this first year of seminary.
During this first year, I also learned how I should present myself to others. I learned that the Lord wants me to come as I am to him because the Lord created me uniquely. Each of us is endowed with special gifts and talents from the Lord. When we learn to use these special gifts the Lord has given us, to become the best versions of ourselves, we are truly glorifying the name of God. God created each of us with his own unique plan for our lives and it is only in this plan where we can find the true happiness that God so desires for us all.
In this first year of seminary this is what I’ve learned — to simply place all of my trust in the Lord. I’ve come to realize that if I submit myself totally to Christ, He will guide me every step of the way. He will never abandon me. Thank you so much for your prayers and support during my first year of seminary. I am looking forward to my second year of seminary and I can’t wait to learn much more. Rest assured of my continued prayers for each and every one of you! May God bless you!
If you wish to contact Christopher Elser, please e-mail Maria Izquierdo-Roque in the Vocations Office or call her at (501) 664-0340. This article was published July 1, 2020. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. This article may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.