Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A New Seminarian

Each year Mount Angel Seminary holds a benefit dinner, and the Catholic Sentinel, the newspaper for the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, publishes a special section dedicated to the seminary to coincide with the dinner.

This year, two seminarians will have their writing featured in that special section.  The first student, Dean Marshall, interviewed a new first-year seminarian, John Hesla.  Dean is studying for the Diocese of Sacramento, and his interview is below.  Thank you, Dean, for your contribution!

Preparing for God's People: An Interview with John Hesla
by Dean Marshall

John Hesla, a young man from St. Cecilia Parish and a first-year seminarian at Mount Angel Seminary, relates a vocational call that is filled with unexpected turns.

John Hesla
Hesla converted to the Catholic faith in 2004 with the rest of his family when he was in the sixth grade and eventually found himself at St. Cecilia Parish.  He grew to love the "sacraments, tradition, and universality" of the Church.  Little did he realize that his journey would eventually bring him to Mount Angel Seminary.

In middle school, Hesla began altar serving, getting to know the priests and the Mass.  During this time, one of his parish priests, Fr. Peter Fernandez, told him he would be a good priest.  Several of Hesla's friends and another priest agreed, and so he began to consider the priesthood.  It would still be several years, however, before he would actively pursue the call.

Hesla then began at Jesuit High School in Beaverton; he was involved in music and was "focused on the next step: college."  From Jesuit High School he applied to Willamette University, taking an interest in their music program.

At Willamette, Hesla continued to grow in his faith and discovered that perhaps God had something else in store for him.  He discovered the rosary at Willamette's Newman Center and began attending adoration at St. Joseph Parish in Salem.  Hesla relates that these experiences "made for a good foundation" in his discernment.  He decided that music was not the path for him, and while he enjoyed studying philosophy and history, he felt out of place at Willamette.

The answer to this longing finally came through talking with his mentor and friend Father Ysrael Bien, who suggested he read To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide to Discerning a Vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood by Brett Brannen.  Throughout the book, Hesla discovered what the application process for the seminary involved, the qualities sought in future priests, as well as some of the trials and tribulations of seminary life.

Hesla devoured the work and identified with many of its ideas.  He then made the decision to pursue seminary and applied to the Archdiocese of Portland.

Helsa has found seminary life to be extremely rewarding.  One of the things he enjoys about seminary is the brotherhood.  

"Everyone is here for the same reason.  [They are] looking to become better men in Christ" he relates with joy.  Hesla enjoys the structure of the environment and is excited about diving into the program.

Hesla looks forward to working in the parish and serving the faithful in the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon, particularly in the Mass and confession.  He smiles as he notes that he is anticipating the most "working with God's people and learning with them along the way."

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