Becoming a priest was never something I had thought about while growing up. So it was somewhat random when in year 12 a priest that I knew made the suggestion “Richard, I think you might be a good priest. Have you ever thought about it?” I just laughed and dismissed it. But moments later, something that he had said struck a chord with me. It was the first time I internalised the thought ‘could that apply to me?’
I went to university, got involved in different things on campus, committed myself to study, but the thought the priest had placed in my mind was always there. From time to time, I would pray about it and I would ask God ‘what are you asking of me?’ It’s hard in prayer because I’m like ‘is that you talking?’ or am I imagining things? But I always sensed a deep calling to serve others. So that was in my prayer and I felt the priesthood drawing me in to that, although not knowing with certainty.
However, if God is asking something of you, you’ll be reminded a number of times. There were so many different ways, different people, different scenarios and it was as if God was saying, ‘no you’re not going to forget about this’.
My biggest struggle in making the decision was ‘how do I really know this is God’s will for me?’ An engineer by trade, I needed mathematical certitude. I wanted to have ‘an equation’ that I could solve somehow and say this is all good, I know what God’s will is; done! It took a long time. It was eight years later and I still hadn’t made a decision, and I thought, I need to just choose.
Over the course of a retreat at the seminary, that’s when I realised that when God is asking something of you in your life, God is always going to ask you to have faith. To trust. Therefore, if I were to have 100% mathematical certitude, that’s not how God works. There is always room to take a leap of faith. So I knew what I had to do. Even to this day, it’s still a journey forward; it’s constant discernment at the seminary.
I’ve been asked, ‘why would you join something that has lost all credibility in the public eye these days?’ I answer, I want to give of myself to fill the void and be a good priest. All of the baggage of the past that would deter someone to become a priest is an inspiration for me to really try and make a difference. To give of myself as best I can.