Meet the Seminarians
Rev. Mr. Brian J. Morris
Six years ago I was a brand new financial advisor with a large Wall Street firm with a perfect plan. I would work hard and build up a good practice. I would meet a wonderful woman, get married and start a family. Through my business success I would provide my family with a comfortable lifestyle and good education. In some ways it is a family tradition. My grandparents did it for their families and my parents did it for mine. It made sense. It would seem though, that God may have other plans.
As I mentioned, my parents provided me with a very comfortable life. Along with the worldly comforts that they provided me, they also helped me to develop a strong moral character rooted in the Catholic faith. They taught me to pray before meals and bed and to always make sure I attend Mass on Sundays. After all, there are 168 hours in a week, is it really so difficult for me to give one back to God? One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was a Catholic education. I attended Our Lady of Mercy grammar school and while there served as an altar server. It wasn't until I was a student at Bishop Hendricken did I realize what my faith really meant to me. I would say it began sophomore year when I went to Rome with our chaplain, Fr. Taillon, and about 20 other students. While I was there I was enthralled with the marvelous beauty and history of the Catholic Church. We had the opportunity to go to a Papal Audience with Blessed (soon to be Saint) Pope John Paul II. There was something about being there and seeing how others were so moved not only by his words but his presence. I remember that it was during that Papal Audience that for the first time I thought about the possibility of giving my life to God and His people as a priest. At the beginning of senior year I began to seriously consider entering the seminary to study to become a Catholic priest. I had regular conversations with Father Taillon as well as my parents and many of my friends. As the year went on, however, I moved further and further away from that idea and after much thought and prayer I decided to attend college at Wake Forest University instead.
Once in college, having considered the priesthood and decided not to enter the seminary, I figured that was that. No more thinking about the priesthood, I am going to get married and have a family. I successfully completed four years of college and finished with a bachelor's degree in business and a new job in Washington DC. How could I have done so well and gotten so far, if God wanted me to do something else? Besides, I already considered the priesthood and it was fairly clear and distinct that it was not my calling. Even after my first two and a half years in DC, I was following my "gameplan." I survived the onslaught of layoffs in 2008 and 2009, I had further opportunities for advancement, I had made many good friends and was in a good relationship with an awesome girl. Life was good.
Although my bank account was sizeable, my social calendar was full and it seemed the sky was the limit to my ambitions, I felt very incomplete. Something was missing for me. I was still going to Church every week and as many times when I could I went to Mass on my lunch breaks. When I was there I would often pray to God, asking Him what I was missing. Should I change jobs? Maybe go back to school for an MBA or law degree? I came back to Rhode Island for Christmas and talked to my old friend Father Taillon. He recommended that I attend the overnight retreat at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence. I had attended the same retreat in high school, but at this point was open to anything. On the retreat one of the priest said something that stuck with me. He said to let the Holy Spirit take control and guide you. On the second day of the retreat, everything was clear in my head. It just seemed obvious that God was calling me to be here, so at the end of the day, I asked for an application.
Why was God calling me to the seminary? Most people would assume it is to become a Catholic priest. There was something that Bishop Tobin said to me in my interview that spelled it out perfectly. He said that he didn't know if it was God's plan for me to become a Catholic priest, but that my time in the seminary would help me to become a better man and a better Catholic. On that point, I completely agree with him. Should it be God's will that I be given the amazing gift and responsibility of the priesthood of His Catholic Church, I will do so with much joy. But should He steer me in another direction, I know that I will not regret spending the time I have in the seminary. In my first two years of studies at Our Lady of Providence, I have learned things about myself and my faith that I could never have done anywhere else. Now living and studying at St. John's Seminary and putting on the Roman collar each morning, I feel closer to understanding where God might be leading me, but I remain open to His will and not my own. This is why every day I continue to pray to God and ask Him for the guidance that will bring me closer to the end that He created me for.