2023 — IV Philosophy

Mark Johns, Blessed Sacrament Church, Jonesboro

Attends Conception Seminary College in Conception, Mo.

I had my first thoughts about priesthood when I was five years old. It was about this time that my oldest brother, Mike Johns (now Father Mike Johns), began talking about studying for the priesthood himself. I distinctly remember thinking that I would follow my older brother’s example and become a priest too. 

I don’t recall ever really giving much thought about the priesthood again until the sixth grade. My older brother actually left our home to go to the seminary. I was upset that he was leaving home and I ended up blaming it on the priesthood. I couldn’t understand why he wanted to leave home just to become a priest. 

After my brother left, I started paying close attention to my parish priest, Father Mark Wood. I realized that he was one of the most joy-filled persons I had ever known. I started to see that the priesthood wasn’t so bad after all, and before I knew it, I was entertaining the thought of becoming a priest myself.

I began to seriously consider becoming a priest in my third year of high school. At that point, I was trying to decide whether or not to go to college and eventually get married, or go to seminary and become a priest.

At certain times, it would seem very clear to me that the Lord was calling me to be his priest, but other times, I felt I should go to college, just in case I ended up not liking the priesthood. I didn’t trust the Lord enough to know that he wouldn’t let me down. I was unwilling to let him be in charge of my vocation. 

Having been born the fifth of eight children, I have a great appreciation of large families, and hoped to have one of my own someday. Even though I was aware that God was probably calling me to the priesthood, I thought the only way I’d end up happy was by going to college and getting married.

The summer before my senior year of high school, I decided to attend a retreat with all the seminarians from Little Rock. During that retreat I encountered the Lord in a special way. He revealed to me a glimpse of his love for me, and I realized how much interest the Lord has taken in my life, and how much he’s been involved in it.

After this, I began to attend daily Mass and eventually, through prayer, I learned to place my trust in the Lord, knowing that he’ll never let me down. I was finally able to say “yes” to the Lord’s call, and to his plan for my life.