I didn’t grow up Catholic — or even Christian, for that matter. It wasn’t until I was baptized and confirmed at the age of 25, and really not until my deeper conversion at age 30, that I truly developed a devotion to the Eucharist.
My love for Jesus began after a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit at an Alpha retreat at my home parish, Our Lady of Good Counsel, in 2016. During prayer ministry, I was encouraged to let the Holy Spirit invade my heart and soul like never before. I trusted and opened my heart in that moment, and as I walked out of the retreat, I remember saying to some friends, “I don’t know how, but I feel like my life is never going to be the same after tonight.” Little did I know that I would end up in the seminary four years later.
Once I was ignited by the fire of the Holy Spirit, I began getting more involved in evangelization and discipleship efforts at my parish. Almost a year to the day after that first Alpha retreat, I found myself giving my testimony at another Alpha retreat. Our pastor at the time, Fr. John Riccardo, asked me to coffee after hearing my talk. I was hesitant because I thought I knew what he was going to ask: “Have you ever thought about the priesthood?” I had already been getting that question from people at the parish, and I flat out was not interested.
But that’s actually not what he asked. Rather, he proposed a more fundamental question, “What’s your prayer life like?” I was honest and told him it wasn’t great, so he challenged me to spend 30 minutes per week in front of the Blessed Sacrament, asking God what His will was for my life. That 30 minutes per week quickly turned into 30 minutes per day, then an hour a day. Before I knew it, I had developed a habit of praying a daily holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament, and it was during that time that I discovered God was calling me to the seminary. As I grew deeper in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, my desire for the priesthood grew. To this day, my continued discernment of, and desire for, the priesthood is born out of prayer and Eucharistic adoration, rooted in a deep love for Jesus, and driven by a mission to continue the work of re-creation and restoration that Jesus began on Easter Sunday.
My time in seminary has intensified my love for Jesus in the Eucharist. As my spiritual director, Fr. Jim Bilot, likes to remind me, everything I need is found in the Eucharist. Because Jesus is truly present, the Eucharist is the source of my identity, my hope, my joy, my strength, and my marching orders for mission — in short, everything is wrapped up in the mystery of Jesus’ true presence in the Eucharist. Who I am and the man, disciple, and priest I aspire to be, is thus shaped, formed, and fueled by my Eucharistic devotion. It is only in and through Jesus that we truly become the men and women He created us to be.
Catherine de Hueck Doherty, a Catholic lay apostolate and social activist, once said that receiving Holy Communion is “an invasion by God…through the Holy Eucharist, you will fall in love with God. The more you love God, the more you receive God. The deeper your love becomes, the more your heart opens.” I often think of these words when I go to receive the Eucharist, and I ask Jesus to open and invade my heart like He did during that Alpha retreat. But it’s not just about my own personal transformation, it’s about transforming the world. It’s about letting His love, joy, and hope pour out of me and into a world that so desperately needs what only Jesus can provide.
Experience it for Yourself
Jesus is truly present. Jesus is always with you. Sit in his presence and open yourself up to his voice.