What led me to the priesthood?

By Deacon Phillip Rogier

Special to The Message

The short answer: The love of God led me to a love of neighbor and a love for the Church which led me to a life in the Heart of Christ.

The long answer: It is impossible for me to name one particular moment because everything in my life seems to point me toward the priesthood. Some important moments included serving at Mass and attending retreats (Source and Summit, Teens Encounter Christ and Catholic Heartwork Camp).

The fertile soil of my vocation started with my family upbringing. My parents taught me the faith through their witness and love to each other and to God. Beginning with my early childhood, I can see the foundation of my vocation.

I was in preschool when I first felt overwhelmed with the mystery of God. I remember pondering how God could create everything and yet be uncreated himself. My fascination and amazement at God never left me. In the second grade, I read a section of the gospel from a children’s Bible about the poor woman who put a few coins into the temple treasury. She gave all that she had: the money which she depended on. Afterwards, I asked God to fill me with the same love and devotion. I wanted to give myself completely to God. I asked him to show me the way.

From these moments and more, I grew in silent contemplation of God. I had developed a relationship with Jesus Christ through the interior life. My silent prayer filled me with consolation and joy when I meditated on the mystery of God.

Through the interior life, I loved God. But it was from altar serving that I learned to love God’s people. I served most 6:30 a.m. Masses on Sundays for Father Jack Durchholz growing up. As I watched people receive communion, I received a strong desire to feed them. On Sundays, I felt God inviting me into a greater relationship with himself and with the people. I would reflect on what he wanted to say to them. This fostered my love for the Church and for the members of Christ’s Body. 

A particularly important moment happened while I was working on top of the crow's nest of the Mammoth Water Coaster at Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in high school. I had just found out that a girl that I liked actually liked me back. I was filled with a pleasure and a joy of being individually loved and desired. Someone wanted me rather than anyone else. I was chosen and being thought of at that moment. As I was filled with this love and happiness, my heart shifted to God. I immediately recognized that as good as this feeling is, it does not even compare with what God wants me to experience in his love for me. God loves me. He has chosen me. And he continually thinks of me. This high school relationship helped me to recognize the deep and lasting love that God has for me. Ever since I was a child, I was in love with God, and that love continues to grow.

These moments led me to the seminary to pursue the priesthood. While I was in the seminary, I had many blessed and joyful experiences along with very challenging moments. I began to learn the meaning of the cross. As I struggled constantly, I began to identify with Jesus Christ. I did my best to place my sufferings at the foot of the cross and so unite myself with Jesus Christ. He invited me into a relationship in himself rather than just with himself. From here, I learned the blessing and difficulty of living in the person of Christ.

I am excited as I look forward to my ordination day. I am excited to enter even deeper into the Heart of Jesus Christ. I will go deeper not only through mediation but also through the experience of pouring myself out for others. God wants all of us to have a deep and meaningful relationship with him. May God grant us the blessing of knowing him.