Dcn. Kevin Penkalski

  • Parish: Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne
  • High School: Boulder Creek High School
  • Grade School: New River Elementary School
  • Favorite Saint(s): Mary, Bl. John Paul II, St. Nicholas von Flüe, St. Michael, St. James, St. Jude, St. Louise de Montfort, St. Therese of Lisieux , Archbishop Fluton Sheen

I have to accredit my desire to be a priest to Mary. One night I really was at the end of my rope and I prayed a Rosary as seriously as I could, pleading that Mary would reveal what and who God desired me to be. The next day, I served a Christmas Day Mass, and a man I never met before told me, ‘You should consider the priesthood.’ A couple months later, I ran into a priest that was a long time friend of my pastor, and the first thing he said to me was, ‘Get into seminary!’ Then it was just tons of people saying, ‘You might want to consider the priesthood.’ My heart was filling up with the idea of living like a priest, celebrating the Eucharist being the top thing that was on my mind. I was dying to fulfill this yearning, and I decided to let the Vocations Director know.

We decide I should go to Arizona State University, and continue discerning. I wanted to really test this desire, and so I became very involved with the Newman Center. I realized that I needed to grow as a man first, so I let down my guard, and allowed people to show me how much I needed to grow. It was hard, but even with people highly skeptical of my desire, I never gave up hope. After the Day of Discernment in 2010 I knew I needed to apply. I was accepted about four months later.

Dcn. Estevan Wetzel

  • Parish: Most Holy Trinity
  • High School: St. Mary’s Catholic High School
  • Grade School: Most Holy Trinity
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, Blessed Miguel Pro, St. Josemaria Escriva

My encounter with discerning the Catholic priesthood was gradual, yet powerful. I grew up in a loving, Catholic-Hispanic home but was a bit of an introvert while at Most Holy Trinity Elementary School. I sought to find a hobby to which I could dedicate myself and was able to find my “niche” in sixth grade by altar serving. It was here that the seeds of discernment began to be planted as I became very attentive to the Holy Mass and parishioners would tell me that I would make a great priest. It was not, however, until sophomore year that I truly became open to the Lord’s call.

While at a Steubenville Conference, before the Blessed Sacrament, I received the Lord’s Love in a personal way that made me realize that I was not a face in the crowd, the Lord knew me by name and He was calling me to be a saint. This changed my life dramatically because it gave me the graces to focus on enriching my faith in youth group, to strive to serve God in a more committed way, and to not fear the idea of priesthood. Gradually, as I continued my time at St. Mary’s High School, I realized with much peace, joy, and excitement that the Lord wanted me to enter seminary right after graduation. I applied and was accepted as a seminarian in June 2011.

As I’ve been in seminary, the Lord’s presence has continued to be with me and has guided me as I progress in formation. This presence has been most tangible in the grief and healing I have experienced after the deaths of my brother and father. As a result, I have come to learn that it is His Love that has sustained me as I am formed, tested and given the graces needed to be a spiritual father for the Diocese of Phoenix.

Nathaniel Glenn

  • Parish: Corpus Christi
  • High School: Saint Mary’s High School
  • Grade School: Kyrene Del Akimel A-al Middle School
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Therese of Lisiuex, Padre Pio

For as long as I can remember, priesthood has always been on my mind. It was on and off in my childhood, but when I was around 12 years old, I began reading books on Catholic doctrine that explained what we believe and why we believe it. I absolutely fell in love with the Catholic faith, and my discernment of the priesthood really grew out of that.

One of the biggest factors in my discernment has been prayer. By developing a steady prayer life (starting out with praying a rosary every night), I grew in a relationship with God. It was in this relationship that I felt him strongly calling me to serve him, especially in moments of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and in communal praise and worship. Prayer is indispensable if you want to discern what God’s will is for your life, priesthood or otherwise.

Throughout my teen years, my vocation was also strengthened by my environment: I attended St. Mary’s High School and met other strong Catholic men and women; I joined the local Life Teen youth group and entered into communion with other growing Catholics; I became a lector, altar server, and Eucharistic Minister at my local parish. By surrounding myself with people and activities that helped me to grow closer to God, I also grew closer to the idea that this same God might be calling me to serve him in the priesthood.

Marvin Soto

  • Parish: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral
  • High School: Alhambra High School
  • Grade School: Barcelona Middle School
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Joseph, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. John Bosco, St. John Paul II, St. Josemaría Escrivá, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Blessed Theresa of Calcuta, Blessed Chiara Badano, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati.

Holy Mother Church teaches us that from before we are born God has already loved us and had a will for us. A good life is, therefore, a welcoming in the heart of that love and will. I did not become aware of this reality until after High School. Like many men, I lived much of my earlier days numbly watching life as a vapid succession of moments. In the midst of all the free time afforded by having graduated and not yet going to college, the Good Lord made Himself present to me one night. I can´t quite explain how it was. It was not like a thunderstorm or anything grand like that. Rather, I felt somewhere deep within that God was real and that from then on life would never be the same. After that moment I subtly made my way back to the confessional and the full practice of the Faith.

Above reading and praying the Catechism and Scripture, the place where I most deeply experienced the love of God was at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. There, in that fascinating time of pure worship, I felt such an authentic closeness with Christ that I had to state openly that I was most full when at Mass. This, which was God´s presentation of joy into my life, became the first and fundamental step in all my discernment. After reading a book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen called “The Priest Is Not Is Own”, I decided to make a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament. This was the place where love for Christ truly began to flourish in my heart. There are so many sweet memories which fill my mind when I think of this period in my life, that it would be impossible to write them down. It can perhaps be best described as true love affair which integrated all that was true, good and beautiful in my life into a single path towards Christ.

The time of discernment was mainly about learning to “decrease” that Christ may “increase”. The more this takes place, the more deeply a man lives in joy. As I continue to be formed in the seminary, I become more convinced of the yearning deep within to become the love of the Heart of Christ in the world through the ministry of the priest.

Gabriel Terrill

  • Parish: St. Mary Magdalene
  • High School: Home Schooled
  • Grade School: Home Schooled
  • Favorite Saint(s): Maximilian Kobe, John Vianney, Theresa of Calcutta, Paul, Francesca Cabrini, Josemaria Escriva, Thomas Moore, John Paul II, Blessed Stanley Rother, Blessed Henry Newman

Ever since I was a kid I always wanted to be a priest. When I was young I wanted to be a Trappist monk, a scientist, and an astronaut. Over the years I gained a fear of outer space and realized that math, the least favorite topic, played a major part in most sciences. I also realized that Trappist monks spend most of their lives in silence, which was a deal-breaker for me. However, through all this the desire to be a priest was still present. Over time this desire grew, in receiving my first Communion and Confirmation, as well as serving on the altar as an altar boy. In high school I started taking the possibility of becoming a priest seriously and began asking priests at my parish about the priesthood. I found out about this thing called a seminary, not to be confused as a cemetery, where young men just like me discerned and studied to become priests. Knowing this I visited the Josephinum, a college seminary in Columbus Ohio, and  was encouraged by what I saw to apply to the seminary. I was moved by the fraternity found in the seminary, and the genuine desire of those involved to discern God’s will with an open heart. Soon after I was accepted in 2012, and so far it has been the best decision of my life.

In discerning whether or not to enter seminary the things I found most helpful were a devotion to silent prayer and adoration, as well as regularly receiving the sacrament of reconciliation (confession) and the Eucharist. The best way to know God’s will for you is to first get to know Him, and there is no better way than through prayer and the sacraments. I was also fortunate to have the support and encouragement of my family, priests, and many others at the parish.

Ian Wintering

  • Parish: St. Mary Magdalene
  • High School: Seton Catholic Preparatory
  • Grade School: St.Timothy’s Catholic Academy
  • Favorite Saint(s): Our Lady, St.John Bosco, St.Elizabeth Ann Seton, St.Padre Pio, St.Mary Magdalene

My journey that lead to where I am today didn’t really begin until I started going to Seton Catholic Preparatory High School. At the beginning of my senior year, one of my friends had been encouraging me to go on this retreat that Seton had twice a year. The retreat was called Kairos. I knew very little about the retreat so I thought that I might as well give it a shot. The impact this retreat had on me was indescribable. It was like a ton of bricks had fallen on top of me. I had never felt so loved by my parents and by God than I did when I came home from that retreat. For the first time I realized that God was thirsting for a personal relationship with me. I realized that my faith was the reason for living. It was after that retreat that I decided to take my faith seriously. It was also on these retreats that I first began to seriously consider my calling to the priesthood.

The summer after my freshman year in college, I felt like I need to talk to a priest. So I called my pastor, Fr. Will and made an appointment with him. I unloaded everything and told him how I felt. He then asked me if I would be willing to live in the rectory with him as a discernment process. I was so overwhelmed with joy. It wasn’t long after that that I had moved in, and began the application process. Every passing day my desire for the priesthood grows stronger. My love and desire for Christ has far surpassed any of my own ambitions. My prayer life, love for the eucharist, and love for the sacraments has never been stronger.

Anthony Dang

  • Parish: Resurrection
  • High School: McClintock High School
  • Grade School: Bustoz Elementary School
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Anthony of Padua, St. Mary, St. Francis of Assisi, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

I have had desires of becoming a priest ever since I was a little boy. When I was little, I would pretend to be a priest and give out Communion. When I started middle school, I stopped thinking about the priesthood. I was struggling in life at that time. Sometimes, I would feel depressed and empty. I was trying to find something that would fill my heart.

My life started to change in high school. During my freshman year of high school, my grandpa got into a car accident. That event prompted me to pray the rosary every day. A year later, something made me think about the priesthood again. One night, I decided to pray the rosary. Thoughts about the priesthood entered my mind. From then on, I decided to strive to become holy by praying more and helping out my parish. I started to feel better about myself. I realized God can fill up my emptiness.

However, I had trouble accepting that I could possibly be a priest. That changed when I went to a day of discernment retreat. Afterwards, I felt peace thinking about the priesthood. The next summer, I contacted the vocations director, Fr. Paul Sullivan. He helped me out by answering all of the questions I had. A couple of months later, I applied for the seminary and I got accepted. I am now entering my first year of seminary. I am excited for what God has in store for me in the future.

Harold Escarcega

  • Parish: St. Joan of Arc, St. Bernadette
  • High School: Veritas Preparatory Academy
  • Grade School: Homeschooled
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Bl. Pope John Paul II and Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Stemming from the strong foundations in the Catholic faith that my family fostered in me, I began to feel my calling in high school. I consider myself very blessed, having had there the opportunity to delve deep into the writings of many prevalent philosophers throughout Western history. I began to find that all of the philosophies I was reading, especially those of Aristotle, were resonating deeply within me, and were fostering in my soul a desire to be a good, virtuous person; by God’s grace, these desires found their natural counterpart – my Catholic faith – and quickly became embedded in it. Consequently, my desires for “virtue” and “goodness” were transformed into a deep love for God and a desire to serve Him. This desire to serve Him, by the gentle caresses of His call, slowly became what I thought was a calling to the Catholic priesthood. Following my graduation, I attended Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.

Being in an excellent Catholic environment, it was easy to hear God’s voice as He entreated me all the more to enter seminary formation. After only one semester, I truly knew that God was calling me to put aside my worries and qualms, and do just that. I applied and was accepted during my Spring semester to the Pontifical College Josephinum, and now find myself studying in the program for priestly formation – truly at peace with my discernment and overjoyed to follow God’s call to drop everything and “come follow me” (Mark 1:17).

Gabriel Sabado

  • Parish: St. Clare of Assisi
  • High School: Belleville High School (Belleville, Michigan)
  • Grade School: St. Anthony’s Academy (Belleville, Michigan)
  • Favorite Saint(s): The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Alphonsus Liguori, and St. John Marie Vianney

At a very young age, I experienced a profound stirring in my heart, a peaceful joy that overcame every kind of fear, anxiety, or trouble that crossed my mind.  It was a seed of Christ’s hope planted deep within my soul, growing slowly beneath the surface.  I desired to help ease the pain and suffering of everyone I encountered, especially those within my own family.  During high school and college, I fell victim to the secular culture.  I abandoned my humble Catholic upbringing and relied on myself for success.  It wasn’t until many years later, that I realized I had a ‘God-shaped’ hole in my heart that only Jesus Christ could satisfy.  It was then that I began to hear again “the call” to share in Christ’s Priesthood.

Reflecting on my past, I now see how at every moment, especially when all hope seemed lost, God was always present.  He was patiently calling me back home to be in communion with Him.  Through the love and guidance of Our Blessed Mother Mary, I am convicted in my desire to entrust my life and vocation to Jesus, who has freely given up His life for love of me.  In receiving His gift of infinite mercy and love, I offer myself back to Him in joyful gratitude proclaiming, “Here I am Lord, I come to do Your will.”

Abraham Davalos

  • Parish: Blessed Sacrament (Tolleson)
  • High school: Agua Fria High school
  • Grade school: El Sereno Middle School
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Damien of Molokai, St. Maximillian Kolbe St. Giuseppe Moscati, St. John Vianney, St. John Paul II, and St. Jose Sanchez del Rio