2026 — I Philosophy

Thomas de Prez, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, North Little Rock

Attends the House of Formation in Little Rock

I have always believed that one of the ways God speaks to us is through other people. Growing up in multiple states, that opportunity to encounter Christ through others has been constantly present to me. I started thinking about the priesthood at a young age when people would joke to me about becoming one. Though probably not being serious, that idea would never quite go away.

I was raised in a devout Catholic family that was involved a lot in the church wherever we lived. It was from my parents and Catholic school that I learned the fundamentals of the faith. After receiving first Communion, I was able to serve at the altar, a job I had always wanted. As an altar server, I learned how the priest sacrificed his own personal goals for the sake of Christ, which was inspiring to me. For the first time I came out and told others that I wanted to be a priest. I was told in turn to pray earnestly about it. I felt excited about the matter. Was my vocation really to become a priest?

While living in Wyoming, we attended a small church called Our Lady of Fatima. Though not large, it had a vibrant community of people that loved their faith. It was here that I met my future confirmation sponsors, a deacon and his wife. Looking back, I can say with certainty that God put them in my life to show me what selfless service really is. Through daily Mass, religion class and constant attendance at parish events, my commitment to prayer and listening to God was strengthened.

We moved to Arkansas in the summer of 2013. My family had heard of Catholic High School in Little Rock and wanted me to continue my Catholic education, since Wyoming had no Catholic high school. I started going to Immaculate Conception's Catholic youth ministry program to meet new friends and see what a youth group was like.

It was there that I first learned about Steubenville youth conferences. The conference is a Catholic retreat for high school students centered around the Eucharist. I had been to several retreats before in my life, so I signed up thinking this would be no different. Much to my surprise, Steubenville was very dissimilar, in a good way. I was with thousands of other Catholic youth who shared my love for Christ and wanted to know him more deeply.

The ultimate part came when it was time for adoration Saturday night. I was unaware that Steubenville adorations were conducted with the priest taking up the monstrance and slowly walking around the filled arena, the only light coming from a spotlight focused on the Eucharist. During this, I felt something that I can’t really describe. All I knew, in the moment Jesus passed by in the procession, was God was calling me to the priesthood.

That feeling has never truly gone away even though it has been four years. As I enter the seminary, I know and trust that God is with me throughout this journey, as he is with all of us. With his grace, I hope to complete this journey, so I can serve him with the task he has given to me.