Propaedeutic Year

Jack Smith, St. Jude the Apostle Church, Jacksonville

Attends the House of Formation in Little Rock

My calling to the priesthood first began to grow during the pandemic. I had been feeling this call slightly in middle school. The thought of it would repeatedly come up. During the lockdown, I had nothing to do because I soon became bored of video games, board games and playing outside.

This led to me praying more, because I couldn’t distract myself or be distracted from God. I feel like during this period I noticed and realized God’s call a lot more in my life. I realized it more, but I wasn’t exactly happy or accepting of it.

Sophomore year began and it was virtual, meaning much of the same occurred, except I would be semi-busy from schoolwork. Also during sophomore year, I saw that one of the Youth Advisory Council (YAC) co-chairs, Drew Capps, was on the seminarian poster. This impacted me because I saw Drew at YAC retreats and he seemed like a confident and joyful person; very much like I wanted to be.

This influenced me to recognize that seminarians weren’t strange or even necessarily different people from me. This helped me realize that while I might seem strange and weird to the world for thinking about seminary, I didn’t find it strange at all. When the YAC application came out in the winter of 2020, I filled it out. I did it because my youth minister wanted me to, but also because I was strangely attracted to it.

Now, I realize this was God telling me to sign up and telling me I wouldn’t regret it. After the interview, I received a letter offering me a spot on the team, and asking whether I would accept. Immediately all the fears and doubts returned. Would I be able to do it well? Would I fit in? My mom strongly encouraged me to accept it since I had gone through the whole application process. She wanted me to follow through, and thankfully I did.

Through YAC I met some of my best friends, and I was able to participate in Search. I found that talking with people and being a witness to the faith through my work on YAC and Search team are the most fulfilling things I have done. I love witnessing my faith while doing it with people I enjoy being around. I also received peace with my decision to serve on YAC and Search team because it was part of God’s plan for me to serve his young Church.

Search and YAC continued throughout junior year, and through this work at the diocese, I started to talk to the vocation director, Father Jeff Hebert. He helped me realize that I felt the call to become a priest. Through my conversations with him, I became more confident that I would be joyful and fulfilled as a priest.

During the summer before my junior year, I enjoyed spending time with and serving the Church with the seminarians that were at my parish on summer assignment. These seminarians further showed me their joy as well as sharing their stories of how they became seminarians.

I have become more and more excited about the idea of seminary, especially the idea of being more of an open witness to the faith as well as being increasingly drawn to the sacraments, particularly reconciliation and the Mass. More and more, I am accepting my vocation with joy and excitement. Thanks be to God!