Meet our seminarians: Steven Clemence
Home parish: St. Tarcisius, Framingham. Home Country: Brazil. Seminary: Archdiocesan Missionary House of Formation Redemptoris Mater. High-School: Leonardo da Vinci-Porto Alegre (Brazil). Hobbies: Playing and watching soccer, volleyball, listening to music.
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
The first time that I thought about the priesthood was when my brother felt the call from God to be a priest and entered the Redemptoris Mater Seminary of Denver. I had never thought to be a priest; I had the impression that it was something for those who were altar boys, always in the church and in Mass. With me it was the opposite: I seldom went to Mass, and I had never been an altar boy. I thought that I was not qualified, but for God nothing is impossible, so I considered the possibility of being a priest.
What were major Catholic
activities you participated in prior
to the seminary?
World Youth Day in Canada and Germany; some pilgrimages in Brazil; the feast of my home parish; two vocational retreats for vocations from the Neocatechumenal Way.
What is your favorite Scripture
Mark 16:15 “And He said to them, ‘Go out to the whole world; proclaim the Good News to all creation.” For me this passage speaks of when Jesus sent out the disciples to the whole world to announce the Gospel. I, too, feel that I received this gift of the Good News through an announcement that the Church gave me through the Neocatechumenal Way and I see that in the seminary where I am being formed the Church is preparing me to continue this mandate that Jesus Christ gave to the first Apostles. For me it is of great comfort to know that God has a mission waiting for me, to announce the Gospel not just to those who are inside the Church but also to the far away and those who do not yet know the love of God.
What was your involvement in parish life before entering the seminary?
My family was away from the Church until they discovered it through the Neocatechumenal Way. I started going to Church with them when I joined my community and there it was that I discovered the vocation to the priesthood.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
I was influenced by the spirit of many priests ordained from the Redemptoris Mater Seminaries. I saw in them a freedom and a disposition to leave everything and to go announce the love of God to people everywhere the Church sent them; also their love for the mission was something that always called my attention.
What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?
I would tell him that it is a beautiful life. I would also tell him that the most important thing is not whether or not one has grown up inside the Church, practicing the faith, but to remain open to the call of God. I am a witness that God sometimes calls to the priesthood even those who are outside the Church. As the angel said to Mary, “do not be afraid,” because God never asks for something impossible to be done. If He asks for something, surely He will also give the graces necessary to achieve it.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I was not raised in a Catholic family. As a matter of fact I was baptized in the Anglican Church (my grandfather was Anglican). Since my baptism, I have never been in an Anglican church. Through the Neocatechumenal Way, I started going to the Catholic Church with my parents.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture
To pray the rosary asking God for holy vocations. More talks about the fact that a vocation to the priesthood is a grace from God and it is in no way an abnormal life.
Did anyone invite you to consider priesthood? Please explain.
Not really. Nobody ever came to me inviting me to enter the seminary. It was through a vocational call at a gathering of the Neocatechumenal Way that I felt God calling me to the priesthood.
What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?
The pope encouraged me in the occasion of World Youth Day in Toronto when he quoted Mary saying not to be afraid to do the will of God, and that he would pray for each one of us present there every day. His devotion for Mary was something that always struck me, apart from being an example to me to do the same.
What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and His Church?
First of all the Eucharist, and then through the Sacrament of Confession where I always see the love of God, who always forgives me my sins. The Church giving me the absolution for my sins shows me that God always loves me even when I stray and act against Him.
How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the apostles?
I believe that the bishop is the successor of the apostles in our midst. I think a priest follows in the footsteps of the apostles by living his life and ministry united to the mandate that God entrusted the cardinal for the salvation of all souls. Also I think that he needs constantly to ask God for humility and generosity to remain faithful to the mission entrusted to him by God.
The Pilot, in cooperation with the Office of Vocations, is publishing a series of brief profiles of the men preparing for the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Boston. For other profiles or if you think God may be calling you to a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, visit the Vocations Office Web site at www.VocationsBoston.org.