St. Thomas More Church

Mark Searles

Mark Searles

 After finishing my 3rd year at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary it is a great privilege to spend the summer of 2011 at St. Thomas More parish. Looking back on my life so far it is amazing to think about how God has led me down many roads calling me each day to the vocation to love and to serve Him even when that seemed tough or I lost sight of Him. Although it was not until college when I felt God calling me to the priesthood, when I look back on the many blessings in my life since I was a little kid, I can see that he has always had something special in mind for me.

I am blessed to be surrounded by a very loving and supportive family and this has always been one of the key ingredients in my life and vocation. Learning how to love and serve others from my parents first was essential for me to grow up as I could then also look to family, friends, teachers, priests, and many other important people in my life as role models. I am also blessed to have a twin sister, Colleen, who is a nurse, and a younger sister, Katie, an interior designer and the creative one in the family.

I grew up in the parish family of St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Easton, PA where I attended grade school followed by Notre Dame High School. Catholic education was also very important to me to grow in my faith as a young person in addition to the great priests that served my parish and the IHM sisters who were also my teachers growing up. Their witness to a life in God's service was inspiring and fascinating to me.

I then attended college at the University of Scranton where I began majoring in biology with hopes of becoming a doctor someday, but as I grew and learned more about myself, my vocation, and my relationship with God in college, I saw God pointing me in a different direction. It was a bit scary and difficult at first to consider such a big change. I'd never heard much talk about the seminary or young people becoming priests or nuns, but I found that the more I thought about the priesthood, the more God blessed me with the peace and joy I needed to discern my vocation. Speaking with my parents, priests, and teachers were all a big help for me in college as I began meeting a priest for some spiritual direction and tried to spend more time in prayer or in church. I also read a fascinating story of a young priest from our great Diocese of Allentown, Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J., who courageously offered his priesthood and almost his entire life to be a missionary to the people of Poland and Russia during and after WWII. Fr. Ciszek's reflections on the priesthood in his heroic and amazing experiences through imprisonment, hard labor, and solitary confinement set my heart on fire. In his book, He Leadeth Me, I heard God's call to serve other with the same vigor and zeal as the people in our own diocese have a hunger and desire to come to know our Lord, Jesus Christ better through the powerful witness of the priesthood.

After graduating from Scranton I applied to St. Charles and began my seminary formation and have continued to grow in a prayerful relationship with God as well as a knowledge of our tremendous faith and Church. During the school year and each summer we also have the awesome opportunity to serve on some apostolate assignment and I have learned a great deal from experiences like working with the residents of Holy Family Manor in Bethlehem, the children of the John Paul II Special Learning Center in Shillington, and teaching the fine students of Allentown Central Catholic High School as well as summers at St. Clare of Assisi parish in St. Clair, PA and now St. Thomas More parish in Allentown.

Overall the journey so far has not always been predictable or easy, but it has been filled with countless blessings and joyful moments that remind me that God walks with us through each step of our unique vocational journeys. It is a great time to be studying for the priesthood in our Diocese of Allentown and I believe that God is continuing to call many more young men and women to the amazing service of His Church through the priesthood and religious life.

© 2009 St. Thomas More Church • 1040 Flexer Ave., Allentown, PA 18103
610-433-7413 • Fax 610-433-2308