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Meet Your Seminarian: Ryan Ferrigan

Falling in Love with the Priesthood and the Eucharist

by Editorial Team

Ryan Ferrigan
Theology II
Diocese of Lansing

When I was growing up, I never gave much thought to “discerning my vocation,” or even to the idea that God had a purpose for my life already planned out. I never lost my faith, but I approached my life decisions as something I had to figure out for myself and do whatever I set my mind to.

When I was 17, I had an encounter with Jesus that changed my life. It was the first time I had ever attended the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday. Hearing the Scripture passages about the institution of the priesthood, and the centrality of the Eucharist as the true Passover sacrifice as is made present on the altars of our churches and chapels, revealed that Jesus gave us two gifts of incalculable worth before undergoing his passion—the priesthood and the holy Eucharist. I remember being able to experience Jesus’ immense love during the Mass. In giving us these two gifts, in his divine wisdom, he made it possible for us to give a perfect response to his sacrifice on Calvary — by receiving his Body and Blood, and by offering him our worship. I was captivated and moved with love for Jesus in his true eucharistic presence, and I was absolutely in love with the priesthood, especially in the way it’s recounted in John 13 (the Gospel for Holy Thursday), when Jesus washes the disciples’ feet. He shows us that the heart of his priesthood is alterity, or concern for the other, which, of course, is the central motivation for his suffering and death on the cross for us.

After we processed from the church to the altar of repose with the Blessed Sacrament, I remember kneeling and praying silently for a long time. When I walked back to my car in silence, I was thinking about the priesthood and the Eucharist, but also, I was thinking about the profound joy that was so clearly visible in all the concelebrating priests and the Bishop, who was the main celebrant. In the midst of that I sensed the Lord saying, “You could do that someday.” I knew the Lord was revealing the priesthood as my potential vocation. And this was accompanied by the most intense feeling of joy I’ve ever experienced in my life; I still remember it very well. This experience was life-changing, but I had no idea how to respond to it. I knew I wanted to do something I loved, but I wasn’t sure it was priesthood.

I loved science when I was in middle school and high school, and I thought very seriously about pursuing a career as a doctor. In college I majored in human biology, and I loved it! However, after my first year at Michigan State, my heart felt very uneasy about preparing for the MCAT exam, going to medical school, and finally establishing a career as a doctor. I began to ask myself, and more importantly, I began to ask the Lord, “Is this what I’m supposed to do?” Not long after that, a priest whom I know and trust asked me if I had ever thought about priesthood. I told him I had, and that was the first step in responding to the Lord’s call, which I had heard on that Holy Thursday evening. Eventually, I talked to the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Lansing and visited Sacred Heart for a discernment weekend in January 2019. On that visit, the Lord made it very clear that seminary was the next step for me. I arrived as a seminarian in August 2020, and I’m now in my fourth year at Sacred Heart.

These past years in the seminary have been full of blessings. Particularly, the opportunity to pray before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every day and the ability to receive him daily in the Eucharist have both been critical to my formation. It’s a great grace to be formed by priests who also have this immense love of the Eucharist and the priesthood to which they have been ordained. The Lord has shown me that I’m growing closer to him each day, and through this, he’s giving me the courage to respond to this vocation. The years have gone by very quickly, and I know these last three years of seminary formation will also soon pass by. But I also know that every day, Jesus is continuing to build up the love he has given me for the priesthood and the Eucharist, and forming me as a shepherd after his own heart. 



by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.