The thought of priesthood had been in me since I was about seven years old. The first person who encouraged me to be a priest was my aunt, Ram Sia. I do not know where I would be or what I would be doing now without her constant encouragement as I was growing up.
I originally came from Myanmar (Burma) about six years ago. I am the fifth child in a family of eight. Sending children to boarding schools was very common in Myanmar, so I went to two different Catholic boarding schools. Having thought about priesthood already, going to these boarding schools helped me keep the thought of priesthood alive. Most importantly, being able to go to daily Mass, serve as a frequent altar server and pray the rosary each day strengthened me tremendously.
When I knew that I was going to the United States, I stopped thinking about priesthood because I thought that I wouldn’t be able to overcome the temptations I would face. What I knew and saw about the U.S. on television was a focus on impure things. The more I saw those things, the less confidence I had. I was also worried that I wouldn’t be smart enough to be a priest. I thought priests needed to be very smart. So at this moment, the priesthood seemed out of the question. On top of these things, I didn’t go to school for two years because of all the preparations necessary to go to the U.S. This affected my education where I felt like I needed to relearn everything.
However, the thought of priesthood came back to me when I was in eleventh grade. During that year, I started asking myself what I want to become. I thought about many different things, but none of them really excited me. After getting involved with activities at my parish, I started thinking of priesthood again. The more I thought about it, the more excited I was, but it was very difficult to decide to join the seminary. Coming from a Burmese background, I had a mindset that once I entered seminary I had to become a priest. I wrestled with this for a while in prayer. When I was confident enough that this was what God wanted me to do, I talked to my pastor and started my application process.
When I prayed and reflected, I realized the thought of priesthood never left me. It was always in me secretly. One moment where I realized my calling was during my freshman year at St. Philip Catholic High School. In my theology class I was told to write down on a small piece of paper what I want to become when I graduated, and I wrote down “priest.” The teacher asked some students to share what they wrote down. Being a quiet and shy student, I chose not to share it. I didn’t want other students to know because I was afraid that they would treat me differently. After class ended, I threw that small piece of paper in a trashcan.
I believe God planted the seed of vocation in my heart when I was very young and nurtured it through boarding schools and through my aunt. I entered the seminary in the fall of 2015 and now I am a third-year college seminarian. I am still very happy about my decision to enter the seminary, and I still feel that God is calling me to be a priest.