By Nathan Herr
Growing up, the thought of joining the priesthood was there as far back as I can recall. I remember times when I was younger when I would take my children’s Bible and, lifting the book above my head, process the Gospel down the long hallway outside of my bedroom.
Being at St. Patrick School for almost all of grade school, I was really amazed every time we discussed the priesthood and every time I got to see a priest celebrate Mass. I would often find myself thinking about how great it would be to be a priest, and by eighth grade, I was sure that was my calling.
Then I started high school, and everything seemed to turn upside down. The transition from my small, private grade school into public high school was shocking. It also did not help that the moment I walked into the school for my first day, I was instantly labeled as the “Catholic kid.” I realize now that this was a good thing, because my classmates were able to see the love of Christ working through me and within me.
However, at the time, I saw it as a negative. My classmates put me inside this “box.” I did not want to be trapped inside this stereotype, so I started to hide my faith, thinking that if I did not talk about Catholicism, the label might disappear. I also would not tell a single person at my school about my call to the priesthood, because that would set that label in stone for sure.
Eventually, this lie I was living – that I did not want to be a priest – became reality, and I started to think about what I wanted to do after high school, since seminary was no longer where I was being drawn. I decided to study music education in hopes of being a band director. However, this past year, I realized that that was not the vocation I was called to do.
When I attended a national Catholic collegiate conference this past January, I realized something that changed my outlook on my vocation. When I made my decision not to go to seminary, I thought that I was chasing what I wanted to do.
What I realized at the conference was that what I was really doing was running away from God’s will and his plan for my life. I was allowing my insecurities, wants and passions to be more important than my savior and my God. I forgot that the plan God has for us is better than any plan I could imagine.
I believe that we often try to take too much control of our lives. We forget that God has a plan for us at every point in our life and we try to take the power away from our creator. Even though it is easier said than done, as Catholics we are called to let go of our worries and concerns and offer them up to our Lord, knowing that his plan is better than anything we can imagine.
Nathan Herr is in the middle of his sophomore year of college at Immaculate Heart of Mary College Seminary at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Winona, after spending his freshman year at Valparaiso University. The son of Lynne and Jeffery Herr and brothers to Ryan and Danny Herr, he graduated from St. Patrick School in Chesterton and Chesterton High School. His seminarian assignment last summer was with the Totus Tuus program for the Diocese of Gary, as one of eight young missionaries and a team leader for a team of four. As a missionary, he helped run two week-long catechetical programs, one for youngsters in grades 1-6 in the morning and another in the evening for youth in grades 7-12, traveling to six parishes in the diocese.