My Vocation Story

02-04-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Gabriel Terrill

Dear Friends,

When I was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 2020, surrounded by family, friends, and brothers and sisters in Christ, I was profoundly aware that my ordination and indeed my future as a priest was a result, not of my own competency or fittingness, but of the many people who supported me along my vocational journey. Ever since I was a young boy I wanted to be a priest, but what kept that immature desire alive and allowed it to grow was the support and encouragement of family members, parishioners, and strangers.

When I shared my dream of becoming a priest with people at the parish, they encouraged me by saying I would be a good priest or that they would pray for my vocation. This inspired me to discern the priesthood and genuinely consider God’s plan for me. If I hadn’t been encouraged or supported by the grace of those prayers, I may not have persevered in my discernment. My family also supported me. This is not always the case. I have met seminarians and priests who were not supported in their vocational discernment by their family and were even alienated or disowned for their choice to discern the priesthood. I recognize that I was blessed to have a family who supported me in discerning God’s plan for me, no matter what it was.

Before I entered seminary, I considered getting a job to support the seminary tuition, but I was overjoyed to discover that the Diocese fully supports the education, formation, and housing of our seminarians. Due to the generous donations of donors in the Diocese to funds like CDA (Charity and Development Appeal) I was able to freely discern and prepare for the priesthood immediately after graduating high school.

Financial, spiritual, and emotional support continued throughout my years in seminary and I attribute the success of my discernment in large part to the support and charity shown toward me by God’s people. I have come to realize that my priestly vocation and every priestly vocation is a fruit of the community. Our priests come out of a community, are encouraged by the community, supported by that community and in turn minister the sacraments to the community. I believe it can be said that the gift of the ministerial priesthood and the fruit of the Sacraments is the result of the faith being celebrated in the family, the domestic church, and vocations being supported and encouraged in parishes and schools. We have the opportunity to get to know the men actively discerning and preparing for the priesthood and support them in their journey. We can continue to foster vocations in three impactful ways.

Encouragement: I was greatly impacted by those who encouraged me to be a priest when I was a boy. Encouraging a young man to discern the priesthood is both an affirmation and an invitation to discern the priesthood. Even saying something as simple as “Hey, I think you’d be a good priest.” could be the first and perhaps most important step towards fostering a vocation to the priesthood.

Prayer: There is a great need for priests and prayer is powerful. Praying for vocations, seminarians actively discerning, and priests in ministry is a beautiful and effective way to spiritually support vocations. This can be done through devotional prayer or joining vocational support groups such as the SERRA Club, Adopt a Seminarian Program, or Seven Sisters Prayer Ministry which allow for a direct way to pray for vocations.

Financial Support: I was beyond blessed to be financially supported in my preparation for the priesthood and I would not have been able to pursue my discernment with freedom and peace without the generous support of many charitable donors. There is an opportunity to invest in the priesthood in our Diocese through financial support through programs such as CDA and groups such as the Knights of Columbus, SERRA Club, and local parish groups which allow discerners to pursue a priestly vocation who could not do so on their own.

I am forever indebted to the countless people who have supported and continue to support my vocation. Thank you! I ask that you please continue to support vocations in our Diocese through encouragement, prayer, and generous donations. Many blessings to you all!