2020 — III Theology

Dc. Joseph Friend, Christ the King Church, Little Rock

Attends St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana

By blessing me with an incredible family, the Lord gave me a first-rate supporting cast in my journey toward the seminary. My father taught me to be a man of God and my mother taught me how to love him. Because of my parents’ nurturing love and emphasis on developing a relationship with the Lord, I am forever indebted to them.

I felt the call to the priesthood for the first time at 12 years old, while I was attending Mass in the Catholic High School chapel in Little Rock. As Father Lawrence Fredrick elevated the host, I heard the Lord say, “Come, follow me,” as I peered into Jesus’ eyes in the mosaic, located behind the altar. 

I felt confident that the Lord wanted me to be one of his priests, but high school found a way to blur this once vivid vocation. I found myself living by the way of the world, rather than by Jesus’ way of humility. It took the diagnosis of my mother’s cancer for me to realize how distanced I had placed myself from God.

My mother was my hero throughout her sickness, because she lived by true conviction. Fear never dared to show itself in her face, because she knew that the Lord held her with his loving and merciful hands. To the day she died, my mother lived as a strong, Catholic woman. Her example of relying completely on the Lord in her frailness taught me that a true Christian is one that lives vulnerably and embraces his cross lovingly.

It was this vulnerability that allowed my relationship with the Lord to flourish in my formation toward the priesthood, because he met me in my weakness. As I have had to go through struggles in seminary, the Lord has never failed to comfort me and show me his great love.

One thing that has always been a part of my prayer life is gazing upon a crucifix, something that a good friend, St. Francis, taught me. It is beautiful to think of a God, who is willing to suffer and die for his people. The least I can do is to return a piece of that love.

Thankfully, the people of the Diocese of Little Rock have made it very easy to love. As I prepare for my ordination for the diaconate, I am thankful to know I have a wonderful supporting cast here in Arkansas. It is humbling to learn just how much the people are praying for us.

I will never be able to thank them properly for their support. Our people deserve solid men to give their lives to the Lord. With the continual help of our Lord, I am confident that the brotherhood between our seminarians can have a great effect on this diocese. I cannot wait to serve as one of Christ’s priests. Much love.