Deacon Timothy Seavey

My journey of discernment towards the vocation of priesthood began when I was fairly young. My parents consistently encouraged my siblings and I to attend Mass regularly and participate in parish ministry. As far back as I can remember I have always been in complete awe of the beauty of God’s grace he offers through his priests. Though discernment was indirectly fostered throughout my childhood, I had not been introduced to the concrete idea of entering in to seminary life and formation for priesthood until high school. It was then, in my sophomore year, by the prompting of the holy Sprit that I truly started praying about God’s will for my future and the call to serve him by sharing in his priesthood.

Staying close to our Lord Jesus Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and frequenting daily Mass seemed only to sustain the call to a vocation in the priesthood while I finished high school and my undergraduate studies. Through persistent prayer and the grace of God I have been led to enter more fully into discernment with the Church in seminary and continue grow closer to Christ. A special place in my heart for our Mother Mary has also given me great grace and consolation in doing whatever her son asks. I look forward to continuing to discern God’s will and the abundant graces that he has in store for me in the future.

  • Parish: St. Timothy
  • High School: Cactus Shadows High School
  • Grade School: Zuni Elementary School
  • Favorite Saint(s): Our Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Padre Pio, St. John of the Cross, St. Terese of Lisieux, Blessed John Paul II, Blessed Mother Teresa

Deacon Frank Cicero

The Lord’s call for my life was one that was a radical revelation of His love and mercy. There was never a thought growing up about seminary or opening my life up to God in this evangelical way. The first time the thought entered into my mind was June of 2009. I was always open to God’s love but only in the way that I wanted to receive it. My faith growing up was a strength, but the older I grew the weaker it became, until I was totally enveloped by the pleasures of this world. I was seeking a spiritual need in a physical place, though on the outside I perceived to have everything but what I really had was nothing. I was lonely and broken. It was only through great suffering that His mercy was able to captivate my soul, to take the brokenness in me and heal me through His divine love of the Eucharist. It was then that I was given the strength to truly stand and be not afraid to say yes to God.

  • Parish: St. Timothy
  • High School: Desert Mountain
  • Grade School: Sandpiper and Sonoran Sky Elementary
  • Favorite Saint(s): My mother and Fr. Charles Canterna, St. Faustina, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Augustine

Deacon Daniel Cruz

I studied applied biological sciences/secondary education at Arizona State University-Polytechnic Campus. My desire was to teach biology to high school students as the primary reason with the priesthood nowhere in site. However, during my studies, I served in various ministries throughout the church. In doing so, I noticed an inner peace began to stir in my heart every time I brought communion to the sick, prepared students for the sacraments of reconciliation and confirmation, teach in youth groups or experience the sacraments of reconciliation and communion. Finally, a day of discernment helped me realize my first aspiration should be to serve God. The life of the seminary and priesthood was an incredible consolation. Keep in mind this was during the Year of the Priests. And because of your prayers I’ve been given the grace to say yes as Mary our Mother so perfectly proclaimed.

Shortly after, I begged God to move my own self-centered will out of site and help me discover what I ought to do. I turned with great diligence to prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and simply asked: “Lord, what do you want from me?” After that simple request, the ensuing months directed me to apply to seminary. With the help of Our Lady, Mother of Priests, the incredible support of family, the parish prayers of Holy Cross church and the priests who reflect Jesus Christ and His ministry, I’m where the Lord wants me to be, in the seminary. Each day I go before the Lord and offer Him this choice as a beloved son to accept and confirm this special call to the priesthood if indeed it is for His greater service and praise.

  • Parish: Holy Cross
  • High School: Ray High School
  • Grade School: Ray Elementary School
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Therese of Lisieux, Blessed John Paul II & St. Matthew

Vinhson Nguyen

When I was growing up I wanted to become a priest in the same way a lot of kids wanted to be astronauts and firefighters. The problem was that I didn’t stop to think about what God wanted me to be until a couple of years ago. It was a big change in my life that pushed me to learn more about myself and what God made me for. I found myself praying more often, going to mass daily and going to confession regularly. It was when I’d be praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament in adoration and at mass that the thought of priesthood always came to mind. It was when I attended last year’s ordination (2010) that I was moved to finally respond to this call. I met with Fr. Paul, the vocations director, and opened a line of communication with him. It was through him that I met other men discerning their vocation. Spending time with other discerners was encouraging because we shared a lot of the same experiences and thoughts about the entering seminary.

For anyone discerning their vocation I believe there are two things that are most important. They are participation in the sacraments and prayer. I believe that the more we encounter Christ in communion, confession and prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament the more apparent our vocation will become.

  • Parish: Resurrection
  • High School: Mesquite High School
  • Grade School: Gilbert Elementary
  • Favorite Saint(s): Sts. Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Paul, John Vianney and Philomena

John Nahrgang

I didn’t grow up Catholic but clearly remember attending my first Mass. I tagged along with a hockey teammate and his family one Sunday morning after a sleepover. There, at Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Minnetonka, Minnesota, the Blessed Virgin Mary apparently took notice of the ten-year-old boy not accustomed to kneeling in a pew. I attended public schools and grew into an agnostic with a strong desire to attend the University of Notre Dame. There, the Blessed Mother began asserting her presence in my life, most notably as Our Lady of Guadalupe when I spent a semester living and studying in Mexico. Six years later, I was accepted into the Catholic Church at the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, Minnesota. A year after that, God gently invited me to begin exploring a vocation to the priesthood. I spent three years in formation with a wonderful Marian religious community, during which time God began steering my discernment towards diocesan priesthood. Armed with sufficient clarity on that question and mindful of both a desire for Hispanic ministry and my parents’ future, which involved retirement in Arizona, I asked God to confirm an application process for the Diocese of Phoenix. He did so and I am now at peace with my new path, grateful for the love and support of my adoptive diocese, and hopeful for a wonderful future as a Catholic priest under the patronage and mantle of our Blessed Mother.

  • Parish: OLPH – Glendale
  • High School: Hopkins (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
  • Grade School: Glen Lake (Minnetonka, Minnesota)
  • Favorite Saint(s): Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Faustina, St. Philomena, St. Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, Bl. George Matulaitis

Chris Gossen

I was raised Catholic, and my parents had taken me to Mass since I was a baby. In middle school, I joined my parish choir and youth group and I began to hear from people at my parish that I would either become a Youth Minister or Priest. That was a little scary at the time and I ran from the thought. However, in 2009 I felt the Holy Spirit call me to become active in the Church. I began volunteering with the youth group at my parish and eventually became Youth Minister and working at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in HR. The thought of seminary and the Priesthood entered my mind again in 2009 and further developed through prayerful discernment, attending and serving at daily Mass, praying Liturgy of the Hours and meeting some of the Phoenix seminarians.

I attended a retreat on Joy in Vocations in which the Retreat Master said you can’t discern two vocations at the same time, and that you should trust God and take a jump. I began to experience a deep sense of peace and I spoke with the Diocesan Director of Vocations, Rev. Paul Sullivan, and applied to the seminary. Since being at the seminary I have come to recognize the constant role God has played throughout my life. I am deeply grateful to all those who have supported me throughout the years and who have made an impact on my discernment. St. John Vianney, Patron of Priests, Pray for us.

  • Parish: St. Bernard of Clairvaux
  • High School: Desert Mountain
  • Grade School: Cochise
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. Joseph; St. Patrick; St. Bernard of Clairvaux; St. John of the Cross; St. Therese of Lisieux; St. John Vianney

Kevin Penkalski

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.

  • 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

Ian Wintering

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.

  • 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

Harold Escarcega

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).

  • 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

Nathaniel Glenn

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.

  • 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

Marvin Soto

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.

  • Parish: Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral
  • High School: Alhambra High School
  • Grade School: Barcelona Middle School
  • Year in Seminary: 1st Philosophy
  • Name of Seminary You Are Attending: Seminario Mayor de Guadalajara
  • 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.

Anthony Dang

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.

  • 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

Dominic Bui

Growing up in an active Catholic family, I have always heard, “You should be a priest when you grow up.” I always shrugged it off whenever I hear this when I was younger. During my Junior year in high school, I made my Kairos retreat. That retreat was an eye opener for me as I had felt the love of God through everyone. Through that retreat, the thought of being a priest entered my mind, but this thought felt different. I felt calm and a peace of mind through it. Praying on this thought, it became stronger like a desire or a calling. I contacted Fr. Paul Sullivan that summer of 2013, and throughout the rest of the year, I would talk to Fr. Paul whenever he visited Notre Dame Preparatory. I eventually filled out the forms the Diocese needed and I was accepted.

There are times where I think, ” I don’t understand. Why me of all the people? If God is calling me, why me? I don’t understand you God.” Of course I don’t understand Him. After all, from the words of a wise person, “The Lord works in mysterious ways.” I just need to trust in God’s will for me and I know I will be all right.

  • Parish: Vietnamese Martyrs Parish
  • High School: Notre Dame Preparatory High School
  • Grade School: Our Lady of Perpetual Help Glendale
  • Year in Seminary: College 1
  • Name of Seminary You Are Attending: Pontifical College Josephinum
  • Favorite Saint(s): Sr. Yolanda Mendoza, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Dominic Savio, St. Dominic de Guzmán, St. Francis Xavier

Miguel Solis

I am Miguel Angel Solis Ramirez and I was born on September 27 1987 in La Piedad, Michoacán, Mexico. My family is Catholic and my parents Roberto and Bibiana were married by the Catholic Church. I am the youngest out of six children, one sister named Eva and four brothers named Rogelio, Rigoberto, Gustavo and Javier. I was baptized on January 10, 1988. My parents brought me to the United States on January of 2000 just after I turned twelve years old.

I started to think more about priesthood after an encounter with Bishop Nevares who encouraged me to join the seminary. Taking this as a sing from God after three years, I decided to go to seminary. I am excited because of the Lord’s call and I hope to be a faithful and a simple instrument of His grace.

  • Parish: St. Matthew Catholic Church
  • High School: Central High School
  • Grade School: Vina Danks Middle School
  • Year in Seminary: Pre-Theology
  • Name of Seminary You Are Attending: Pontifical College Josephinum
  • Favorite Saint(s): St. John Vianney, St. John Paul II and St. Augustine.