Peter Lawrence, 28, viewed the Catholic Church as an institution with rules and commandments for most of his upbringing, but a retreat in college opened his mind and his heart to God’s true calling, leading him to pursue the priesthood.
What led to you answering God’s call to become a priest?
I attended a young adults’ retreat in Steubenville, Ohio, that deeply impacted me. There were a number of speakers there who really challenged me on the retreat to live my faith as a relationship with a God who loved me, as opposed to just a bunch of rules to be followed. One of the speakers made it clear how essential prayer was for living out the faith as a relationship with God when he said, “How can you have a relationship with someone you never spend time with?” So following the retreat, I made a commitment to start praying every day and reading Scripture, in particular giving God at least five minutes of silence every day where I would allow him to just speak to me. That’s when things started to change. I encountered God’s love in a powerful way and experienced a love, peace and joy I didn’t know was possible on earth. That’s when I first started noticing the call to priesthood. I initially drew away from the call and didn’t want to address it, but God kept slowly and gently presenting it to me as the way in which I could respond to the great love he had shown me.
What has seminary life been like for you?
Seminary has been both incredibly challenging and incredibly beautiful at the same time. It’s extremely humbling when you realize just how incredible and holy the priesthood is, and how, as a fallen, sinful, human being, God still calls you to be his instrument of mercy to his people.
What are your thoughts about living a priestly life?
I can’t wait! Incredibly excited! During the course of my priestly life, if God works through me to bring just one soul to heaven, I’ll consider my priesthood a success! I can’t think of anything of more lasting value than allowing God to work through me to bring someone home to heaven to be with him for all eternity.