Deacon Nick Smith

2021-22: Theology IV
St. Paul Seminary, St. Paul, MN

I grew up as the oldest of 7 children in Des Moines, attending St. Augustin School and, following junior high, Dowling Catholic High School.  While the Catholic faith was a deeply rooted reality of our family, I never seriously considered the priesthood until I was 16.  Before that time, my parents and other people at school and church would encourage me to think about becoming a priest.  I enjoyed serving Mass, something I began in the 5th grade and continued all the way through high school.  In addition, my family would pray together regularly and I would even join my mom and dad on occasion for their weekly adoration hour.  These were the initial seeds of a priestly vocation before I had even begun to discern.

When I was in 10th grade, Fr. Zach Kautzky asked me if I would be willing to serve daily Mass on the scheduled three mornings per week at Dowling.  I willingly agreed, and so I began to wake up three mornings a week at 6:00 a.m. to serve 7:15 a.m. Mass before school.  This became a weekly routine, and alongside attending Mass more regularly, I began going to confession with more frequency.  I enjoyed taking time out of my day for silent prayer, and throughout the next several months, I felt closer to the Lord than I had ever been.  I even attended a seminary visit, although I did not feel particularly called to the priesthood at this time.  My faith began to become a personal relationship, not merely a theoretical ideal or moral system.

In the fall of my junior year, I was in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament when, in the silence, gazing upon the priest doing benediction, I felt a movement in my heart saying "That is where I want you to stand."  In this moment, I heard Jesus' invitation to me to stand in the place of the priest-to be his priest-in order to give him to his people.  I discerned this call throughout the rest of my junior year with the help of priest mentors, attended another seminary visit, and by the summer before my senior year, I was ready to apply for the seminary.  Discerning and receiving a priestly vocation has been a life of abundance.  Jesus calls seminarians and priests to a unique and intimate relationship with himself that, even amidst the difficulties, is filled with the peace and joy that every heart desires.