Story and Photo by Peter Lawongkerd
Paul Grandi is one of the new students at Mount Angel Seminary this year; he is currently studying for the Diocese of Tucson. In this interview, he shared his own experience of how God called him to the seminary, his transition from the University of Arizona to Mount Angel Seminary, and what he loves the most about the seminarian life. He also shared his experience of working in the writing center.
After that retreat, he went back home with a strong knowledge of knowing that he wants to become a priest. He said, "I felt God's call on my heart. As time went on it became clear that this is what God was calling me to do." Last summer he decided to join the Diocese of Tucson, and they sent him to study at Mount Angel Seminary.
In terms of transitioning from the previous university to Mount Angel Seminary, it was not easy for him because he had to adapt to a new environment, a new culture, and a new schedule. He said, "The seminary has a lot more structure and it was very different from what I was used to."
It is more difficult for him to adapt to the community on the hilltop, especially being down in Subiaco. There are two main residential buildings at the seminary; Anselm is for college students, and Aquinas is for theologians. Subiaco is a small building that accepts students that overflow from Anselm.
It was easy for Paul to get to know everybody in Subiaco very quickly because there are only seven students living in Subiaco, but it is more difficult for him to adapt to the whole community on the hilltop. He said, "It is a lot harder for me to get to know my other brothers who live at Anselm and Aquinas because I'm not around there all the time."
He finds it difficult to move to a new environment and to begin from zero again. This is the most challenging part for him.
He explained the differences between the University of Arizona and Mount Angel Seminary. He said that a big aspect is discernment. In the secular university, a lot more people don't know what they want. He said, "They don't know what they are striving for nearly as clearly as we do here at the seminary." He explained that a lot of the students at the university do not have the big picture in mind, and a lot of people think about how they can earn more money rather than bring joy into their lives or other people's lives.
At the seminary, everyone knows or at least has as aspect of what they are called to be. They know that they are going to bring joy into their lives and to other people's lives through ministry and through the Eucharist.
What Paul loves the most about being at the seminary is that he has the opportunity to participate in the Eucharist every single day before he goes to class or starts doing something else. He said, "Going to Mass every morning is a real blessing for me because it makes every day center around the Eucharist."
He explained that everything he does that day flows from the experience of the Mass. By beginning his day with Mass, it means he receives grace and that grace from the Eucharist goes into the rest of his day. It is reminding him that Christ is there in the Eucharist every single morning and reminding him of why he is at the seminary. He also said that he comes to realize how much the Eucharist affects his life from receiving it every day.
This year Paul also has the opportunity to work in the Writing Center. He said that he has always enjoyed writing essays. He said, "I enjoy helping people become better writers because I think it is such a valuable skill to be able to communicate effectively, especially in the written word." So working in the Writing Center is a satisfying job for him to be able to help people develop their writing skills.