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Tucker Cordani looks back on how he discerned that God has, indeed, been calling him to the priesthood — a little later than usual. (He’s 36 and starting seminary this summer.)
BY Tucker Cordani
“It’s a matter of trust.” That line from the ’80s’
hit song by Billy Joel means a lot to me today.
week, I received my acceptance letter from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary
outside Boston. It’s official: I’m going to study for the priesthood. Classes
begin in August.
Jesus, I sold nearly everything I owned at a yard sale in May. Then I vacated
my house and moved in with my spiritual director for the summer — all before receiving
faith?” an acquaintance asked.
his book Praying the Psalms, Trappist monk Thomas Merton writes about
building trust in God by meditating on the Psalter in order to “obtain the
peace that comes from submission to God’s will and perfect confidence in him.”
praying the Liturgy of the Hours, studying Scripture and receiving the
Eucharist, I have developed a closer, more trusting relationship with the Lord
and rediscovered my vocation.
started thinking about the priesthood as a student at St. Peter School in
Connecticut. The pastor sent boys on discernment retreats. My first was to Holy
Apostles College and Seminary outside Hartford, but it was the second visit, to
the Legionaries of Christ novitiate near New Haven, that I remember best.
arrived Friday afternoon, said vespers, then awoke Saturday and helped the
religious with chores before Mass. We ate with the seminarians in an enormous
refectory. The afternoon was devoted to recreation. We played basketball and
went sledding. I enjoyed being at a place where holy men of all ages devoted
themselves to God.
Sunday, I came home and told my parents I wanted to be a priest. Was I serious?
There was more to it than good food and tobogganing. I truly felt called to
make this radical commitment to a life of service through faith in Jesus
I graduated from St. Peter and enrolled in public high school. Worldly
preoccupations eclipsed the call. After college, I worked in education and
media — including some recent freelance reporting assignments for the Register
— but continued to think about the priesthood. If I really had a vocation, it
would return on its own.
so it did. When John Paul the Great died, I returned to following Christ. His birth
to eternal life had deepened, or perhaps re-awakened, my faith. One morning, I
knelt in the chapel praying the Rosary when a woman approached me. She asked:
“Ever thought about becoming a priest?”
of course, I had. And I told her so. The next thing I knew I was sitting in a
vocation director’s office. He posed the question: “What does God want you to
do with your life?” After a period of prayerful contemplation of that question,
I decided to apply to the Diocese of Springfield, Mass.
Catechism teaches that we must know and love Jesus in order to proclaim his
Word. How to know him? My spiritual director told me Christ is present in
prayer, Scripture and the sacraments; he suggested I attend Mass daily and
cited St. Paul’s words: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
priest is called to be a man of prayer. Each day, I study Scripture and pray
the Divine Office in order to know, and conform myself with, “the mind of
discernment retreats and holy hours have helped me reinforce the mysterious
excitement I felt visiting seminaries as a boy. It was like being 12 years old
Mass is paramount, for the priesthood and the Eucharist are inseparable. I
can’t discern the God’s call without my daily bread, which helps me to know,
love and trust the Lord. Every time I receive Communion I open my mind, heart
and soul to him a little more.
36, so I’ve lived a bit. I know that the priesthood calls for sacrifice and
submission. But consolation comes in remembering my Dante: “In your will is our
peace, Lord.” By trusting God I have come to know the peace that surpasses
Tucker Cordani writes
from Orlando, Florida —
but not for long.