St. Thomas More Church

Discerning God's Call by James Harper

James Harper
Now in my seventh year in seminary, I have certainly spent time discerning God's call for my life. As I look back on my life so far, I can say I am as happy as I've ever been. Like many others, I have found God's plans to be the best plans. In my case, those plans are toward the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

I first thought of priesthood for me in my freshman year in high school at Central Catholic in Reading. At the time, this vocation ran parallel to other career interests, most particularly - the military. Along with career possibilities, I also developed interests at the time as I became involved in activities. I became an avid fan and participant in a variety of sports, a piano player with a love for music, a technophile with knowledge of computers and electronic schematics, but most importantly, a devout follower of my Catholic faith with a desire to be active and grow.

However, I entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy after high school. My desires prevailed and I pursued interests in Electrical Engineering while aspiring to serve this country as an officer in the Coast Guard. In the midst of Swab Summer, I was having a grueling but thrilling time, but I sensed my heart leading me elsewhere. As much as I wished to continue, I recognized an immediacy to God's call toward the priesthood. I then left the Academy and made plans to enter seminary. In the year between, I worked for an inventory company while remaining open to God's call in my life. Thus, I came to know of God's plans as the best plans... even over anything else I could imagine for myself.

As I prepare to be ordained a deacon this May, I approach the end of my time at seminary. The seminary is a place of discernment, and it will continue to be so for me, at least for a while longer. But being open to God's call does not end. As we all journey through life while taking time to listen to God, so it will be for me after seminary. When I can one day fully engage in priestly ministry, I will continue listening to God because of others I will meet as I found for myself... God's plans for us are the best plans!

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