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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, and every night we would pray together as a family. Going to a Catholic school 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 School had a big influence on me, as well as my former pastor Father Francis Malone, who is now bishop of the Diocese of Shreveport, Louisiana.
Through these experiences and the many great people I met, I was able to develop a great relationship with God from an early age.
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.
As I grew up, I continued to think about the priesthood very often. Having a 24/7 eucharistic adoration chapel at my home parish was and still has been a great gift.
In May of 2013, I had developed a deeper curiosity for eucharistic adoration. My mom has had a holy hour from 8 to 9 p.m. every Sunday since the early 2000s. During this time in 2013, my family was enduring difficult times. It is no coincidence that during that toughest part of my life, Christ was calling me to rest in his presence.
This experience in eucharistic adoration I had in May 2013 is where I truly fell in love with Christ and the Eucharist. It was at Christ the King’s eucharistic adoration chapel where the call to the priesthood was manifested in my heart in a deep and intimate way.
When I was in high school, I started to really pray about the possibility of joining the seminary. Senior year of high school was a little bit difficult for me. I was not sure if I should play college football or go straight to seminary out of high school. Through much prayer and guidance from people I trust, I felt the Lord was leading me to the University of Arkansas.
After I graduated high school in 2018, I decided that I would attend the University of Arkansas. When I left the University of Arkansas at the end of the 2019 spring semester, I knew it was time to enter the seminary. After making the decision to join the seminary, I felt at peace.
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 Christ is the most important part of seminary. It has been a tremendous blessing at seminary to have the opportunity to go to Mass and eucharistic adoration everyday.
Mother Teresa once said, “The best time you will spend on earth is the time you spend with your best friend, Jesus, in the Blessed Sacrament.” One of my favorite things to do in eucharistic adoration is pray the rosary. While praying the rosary I have felt Mary lead me closer to her son Christ and the Holy Spirit. St. Joseph has also played a big role in my spiritual life during my time in seminary. He is the one who protects Mary and Christ, and as a future priest, I want to follow his example and protect Mary and Christ from the attacks of society. Through St. Joseph’s intercession, I am learning how to become a true man of God.
Mass and eucharistic adoration is something I look forward to everyday. I’ve learned that our Lord desires our presence with him. He wants us to simply be with him even if we don’t have any words to say. Simply sitting in his presence is extremely powerful and this is where I have drawn my strength.
During my time in seminary, I’ve learned to be myself. I’ve learned that the Lord wants each of us to come as we are to him, because the Lord created you and me uniquely. Each of us is endowed with gifts and talents from the Lord. God created each of us with his own unique plan for our lives, and it is only in this plan where we will find the true happiness that God so desires for all of us.
Seminary has also taught me to place all of my trust in the God. I’ve come to realize that if I submit myself totally to God, he will guide me every step of the way, and will never abandon me. In seminary I have seen more deeply how Christ is truly the way, the truth, and the life. I have realized there is truly nothing more important than our personal relationship with each member of the Holy Trinity.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support these past four years. I am in my second year of theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. I am very excited for how God will continue to lead me in my seminarian journey. Please know of my continued prayers. God bless!