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The Priesthood - It's Never Too Late Follow God's Call!

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May and June are not just traditional months for weddings, but for priestly ordinations as well. No doubt, you've seen priests' social media posts about their ordination anniversaries. On May 31, I celebrated 10 years as a Catholic priest.

Father David Begany, SSJ

Father David Begany, SSJ

Highlights

By Father David Begany, SSJ
6/6/2024 (1 week ago)

Published in Vocations

The seeds of my vocation were sown by my late, great uncle, Fr. Michael Begany of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Many years ago, he baptized both my brother and I. My mother told me that "Uncle Fr. Mike" placed me on the altar of the Blessed Mother and consecrated me to her. This explains why I not only survived a number of childhood misadventures but also why I eventually embraced a call to the priesthood, though at a much older age.

As a "cradle Catholic," my faith was always important to me; not in a merely cultural way but in a sincerely held personal way. As a child of the 1960s and '70s, I was privileged to attend a Catholic grade school, staffed in part, by the Sisters of St. Joseph (SSJ) who were dedicated to teaching children. In addition, my Catholic high school had the SSJ sisters as teachers, librarians, and administrators. In college, I was privileged to attend a Jesuit university.

My family, too, was a very positive influence in my faith formation. My mother, Helen, was devoted to her faith and her family. She took us three children to Mass every Sunday while my father, Stephen, ushered at Mass. He was a devout man and I often accompanied him to the St. Anthony (of Padua) Devotion at a local Franciscan Retreat House. In high school, I attended two weekend retreats. 

Following high school, I entered college with thoughts of becoming a teacher, a scientist, or a medical doctor. However, once I began required classes in philosophy and theology, my interest in areas outside of science began to develop. 

After college, while attending dinner with a priest friend, the inspiration or "call to the priesthood" came during a conversation about the need for leadership in the Church. As sometimes happens, I went "back and forth" about whether to enter the seminary or not. In the end, I chose to begin my career as a chemist. 

Unexpectedly, much later, at the age of 38, I spoke with a seminary rector after informally investigating the process of how to become a priest. That led me to Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, CT, which I entered in 1998.

Attending the seminary was both a blessing and a challenge. It was a blessing because I was able to meet other good men preparing for the priesthood; the challenge was the discipline of seminary life. By that I mean, the daily schedule which included fixed times for Mass attendance, prayer, and of course, academic classes. I stayed just one semester, then returned to my career.

In August 2004, several months after my father's death, I went on a pilgrimage to France and Italy to see Pope John Paul II before he died. While in Lourdes, the thought of a priestly vocation was rekindled through my interaction with the poor I encountered there. Two years later, I applied to and was accepted by a new religious community that enabled me to develop the discipline I needed for seminary life. Unfortunately, that religious community came to an end. Continuing in the seminary, I rediscovered the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart or The Josephites whom I visited several times before. I joined them in 2010 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2014.

Though I decided to put-off following an early call to the priesthood, God did not. He permitted me to experience a career and patiently waited for me to finally say yes to following his Son, in the path of the priesthood. It is never too late to answer God's call!

Father David Begany, SSJ, is a pastoral associate of Priests for Life and pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Baytown, Texas.

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