I came to the major realization a few months back. It was during Lent 2013, some Sunday in February or March. I was finishing up teaching catechism classes at church. At dismissal, I came into the hall and saw the students pour out of their classrooms. So many of them, and so many of them lost, confused, and living lives of quiet desperation. Sure, they have food, clothes, houses… but how many have a home? A loving and faithful family? Supportive friends and positive influences? So many… who will care for them?
And I said, “I want to. I want to care for them.” And then I realized, “If I have my own family one day… wife and children, I would be too in love with my own family to care for these and others. How can I take care of so many if my attention is divided? My family would come first, of course…”
So I had to rethink my hopes and dreams.
Later in Lent, I started teaching English essay classes to middle schoolers in the Chinese American community (Shout out to Lily, Charlie, Jennifer, Claire, Jessica, Austin, Andrew, Kelley, and Richard!). Though I loved teaching and guiding the students, I didn’t like focusing on teaching English. Instead, I wanted to give these kids the wisdom to make good moral choices, to understand their Christian faith, and to be smart — not superstitious! I loved teaching Christian morality, theology, philosophy.
So I had to rethink what I’d do with my English degree.
Then I saw my book, the proof copy of Little Miss Lucifer, sitting on my desk. After eleven years of work, research, plotting, planning, writing, scrapping, waiting, rewriting, revising, praying, editing, etc, she was almost ready for the world. But I just looked at it and repeated Saint Thomas Aquinas’ words: “All Straw!” St. Thomas Aquinas wrote shelves of beautiful work on philosophy and theology, and he called it straw. Compared to Heaven, compared to Christ, all was straw.
So I had to rethink whether publishing would make me happy.
Even if the book were to become wildly successful, even if I wrote ten more best sellers… would I be content?
And one night I struggled to fall asleep. I began daydreaming in the night. I imagined myself in bed ten years from now, beside my beautiful wife and our beautiful children. I imagined asking myself at that moment, “What if I did go to seminary? What if I did give my discernment more effort? Would I have heard a call to priesthood? What if…?”
I realized right then, that to be fair to my possible future wife and children, that I must find out. I must answer this question in my heart. I must address the question mark in my mind. I must answer “What if?” It was best for them, for me, and for others.
Besides, not every man who enters seminary is ordained. Seventy to ninety percent of the men who enter do not become ordained, but they leave seminary more resolved to be stronger and more courageous dads and husbands. They learn to be prayerful, humble, and caring. They learn how to serve others, how to respect, and how to keep their faith. They have nothing to lose — and so much to gain.
So I decided to apply. And now here I go!