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2023 — III Philosophy

John Paul Hartnedy, St. Edward Church, Little Rock

Attends Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.

I can trace the earliest call to the priesthood back to the second grade when I was preparing to receive my first holy Communion and the sacrament of reconciliation. My family instilled in me a deep love and reverence for the Eucharist, and once I had received it, that love and devotion increased.

Also, my family taught me the basics of my faith and explained to me the importance of the Mass from an early age. I grew up admiring priests and the lives they lived. 

Service in my parish community enhanced the call I had from God. As I altar served almost every week, I was able to see how my parish priest sacrificed himself for the community. I saw his love for the Eucharist and the sacraments, and how he made himself present to the people.

He brought them the sacraments, visited them in the hospitals or in their homes, and maintained a joyful attitude. He showed me how to be and bring Christ to the community.

A consistent prayer life also nurtured me in my discernment. I grew up praying with my family, and I learned the value and power of prayer. Prayer was the main way God and I communicated throughout the day.

When I asked a priest-friend of mine for advice on how I can be open to God’s plan for my life, he told me to ask God throughout each day what my calling is in life, and what his will is for me. I made prayer a larger part of my day, and God taught me to be patient and to trust in him.

In high school, the call to the priesthood became stronger. Mr. Patrick Friend, who was my freshman English teacher (now a fellow seminarian), spoke with me about the priesthood often, and he told me about how he realized his calling to the priesthood.

He gave me some advice about how I can make myself more open to God’s will in my life, and he promised to pray for me. Also in high school, I actively sought out other young people to spend time who were striving to live holy lives. This group of friends supported me academically and spiritually, and God worked through them to help me realize his will in my life. 

The call to discern priesthood for me has been gradual. Instead of large signs and billboards, God has used smaller indications of what he would like me to do. Through prayer, listening to those around me and frequenting the sacraments, I look for where the many small arrows are pointing, and then make a decision in trust.

Internally, God continually transforms my heart and my will, conforming them to his. He teaches me through prayer to be patient and to love like he does. In the seminary, I have grown a lot in my relationship with Jesus, but I realize I have plenty of room for improvement.

I am continuing to discern his will for me in life, including the priestly vocation, the universal call to holiness, and the discernment of God’s will in the present moment.

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