When I entered high school as a freshman, my goals were safe and straightforward. I wanted to hang out with my same circle of childhood friends. I wanted to work towards acceptance into a good engineering school. And I wanted to continue being the quiet, timid kid who liked studying and playing sports.
Fast forward to today, and my life looks a lot different. I’m currently a seminarian in the college division at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. My entire vocation revolves around being personable and ready to help others.
It wasn’t an immediate transformation. My first two years at Archbishop Wood High School went according to my original plan. I performed well academically. I played ice hockey. And I mostly kept to myself and my small circle of friends from grade school.
Then, towards the end of my sophomore year, one of my teammates encouraged me to join the Community Services Corps. I attended one event, then another. I made meals for the hungry through Aid for Friends. I visited the elderly in nursing homes. Each experience allowed me to interact with students from other grades, all devoted to helping others in need.
Little by little, I began to break out of my shell. I was reminded of the joy I found in serving. I was inspired anew to be a source of comfort and encouragement.
Meanwhile, I was also coming into my own academically. I learned to manage my time and channel my strengths. At the time, my sights were still set on becoming an engineer. Archbishop Wood’s rigorous AP classes and SAT preparation helped me get accepted into the schools I’d dreamed of attending.
But the priesthood stayed on my mind. During my senior year, I began attending daily mass and meeting with my school minister, Fr. Paul O’Donnell, to discuss seminary. I found joy and affirmation in theology class and my extracurricular service opportunities.
Those classes, conversations, and experiences solidified my decision to pursue the priesthood. I can say with confidence that my time at Archbishop Wood helped me get where I am today. And I am continually grateful for all the opportunities to build confidence in my faith — and in myself.
Declan is a 2017 graduate of Archbishop Wood High School. He is currently a seminarian in his first year in the college division at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary.