Meet our seminarians: Shawn Carey

When was the first time you thought of priesthood? When I was a freshman in a parochial high school, I first thought about the priesthood as I witnessed a priest doing God’s work in teaching students in his classroom. This kind of work inspired me to run for class treasurer in student government, which prompted my desire to serve the student body. What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?

National Catholic Office for the Deaf Pastoral Week Conference, annually in January in various hosting cities; World Youth Day 2005, Cologne; Deaf Catholic Ski Retreat, Mount Snow, Vt. 2003; Deaf Catholic Youth Camp, DeSales Center, Mich. 2002; Discernment Weekend, Archdiocese of Boston, 2002; Deaf Catholic Retreat Weekend with a deaf priest, Boston 2001.

What is your favorite Scripture

passage? Why?

My favorite Scripture passage is Luke 24:13-35 ‘‘The Road to Emmaus.’’ In today's world, we are often consumed with our busy lives, in which we tend to forget to recognize Jesus who has been with us at all times in both happiness and sadness. Whenever I realize that I have been consumed with my work and my busy life, I then remind myself that Jesus is always on my side. This passage is a ‘‘wake-up’’ call for all of us busy people!

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

As Father Michael Medas’s ‘‘shadow’’ in the deaf ministry, I was given the opportunity to partake in leading one of the adult Bible study classes, teaching religious education to deaf students, attending a national conference for pastoral workers, performing the duties of an eucharistic minister, and visiting a deaf prisoner. By developing all these pastoral skills, Father Medas taught me to appreciate all the sacrifices that priests make for the sake of helping others and to realize the importance of providing God’s service to build a bridge between the deaf and the hearing Catholics as brothers and sisters in one big family as the body of Christ.

What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?

If you feel that you are being called to serve the Lord, I encourage you to open your heart and mind in listening to the Lord, as he will guide you. Attending a discernment retreat is strongly recommended to determine your calling when you spend more time meeting with seminarians and priests. You will find out what their vocation stories are like and how your story is related to theirs. Their stories helped me to understand my calling clearly when I attended the discernment retreat.

Please tell us, what are some of the most important parts of discernment?

For me, the most important parts of discernment are frequent meetings with my spiritual director and daily personal prayer. Both spiritual direction and prayer are the ‘‘foundations’’ of my discernment to guide me to recognize what God intends for me to do as He continues to call me.

Is seminary formation what you thought it would be? How is it similar or different from your expectations?

Seminary formation is both similar and different from my expectations. Spiritual direction meetings, advising meetings, community prayer, daily Mass, and taking classes are all what I expected. What surprised me at St. Patrick’s is that they offer prayer-style groups; diverse feast day celebrations such as San Lorenzo Ruiz (Phillipines), Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexico), Vietnamese Martyrs, TET (Chinese New Years), and St. Patrick’s Day; formation support groups; and monthly retreat. I am learning so much about different kinds of prayer, the importance of formation group as my seminary brothers and I support each other in our formation, and the importance of being aware in respecting the worship of each diverse culture.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

My deafness is not a disability. I show people that anyone, regardless of their disability, has the capability to ‘‘go beyond the limits.’’

What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations?

As an effort to promote young vocations, I recommend that we set up a sports-related event; for instance, seminarians can play basketball or baseball against college students at Catholic universities and then have a social function where college students can inquire about vocations with seminarians. Also, a vocation representative and a seminarian or two can visit with confirmation classes at each parish to discuss and share on the subject of vocation and its importance.

Did anyone invite you to consider priesthood? Please explain.

Both Father Michael Depcik, OSFS, who is deaf and Father Michael Medas invited me to consider priesthood. After the Deaf Catholic Retreat Weekend with the deaf priest, Father Depcik, he approached me and encouraged me to think about the priesthood.

What influence (if any) has Pope John Paul II had on your vocation?

John Paul II was a man of prayer. He was in love with God and his people, especially with the young people. I was influenced by his book ‘‘Theology of the Body.’’ I believe that it would be a great help for young people to read this book to remind them that we are created for love as a unity of body and soul.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ?

From learning and living through my life experiences, I comprehended my faith in Jesus Christ by following his examples. For instance, sacrifices have been made in order to facilitate the process of overcoming obstacles such as getting accommodations for the deaf in the Church when there was none available in my childhood. From these experiences, I came to recognize Christ’s sacrifices in order to best serve his people in his kingdom. As a result, I now see Christ in every being.

What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/books/passages?

My favorite and important spiritual books are: ‘‘Living A Gentle Passionate Life’’ by Robert J. Wicks, ‘‘The Wounded Healer’’ by Henri Nouwen, and ‘‘The Holy Longing: The Search for A Christian Spirituality’’ by Ronald Rolheiser.

What is your day like in the seminary?

The rise ‘n shine time is 7 a.m. The seminary community meets for a community morning prayer at 7:30 a.m. in the prayer hall. Then we walk in silence from the prayer hall to the main chapel for a daily Mass. After Mass, we have a community breakfast in the cafeteria. Then we have either morning classes or study periods from 9:40 a.m.-12:30 p.m., depending on the schedule. Then we all meet for lunch, most of the time on the cafeteria patio (this is a California seminary as the weather is pretty comfortable year-round). Some eat breakfast on the patio too. Then after lunch, we have afternoon classes, committee meetings, advising meetings, and two hours of recreational time such as community basketball, soccer, tennis and volleyball games until 5 p.m. Then we all gather for an evening prayer followed by adoration for an hour. Next, we all meet for dinner though some have to leave for field education at area parishes. The evening is spent with a night prayer group, studying and snacking time.

Through the cardinal, God is calling you personally to help rebuild his Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?

As Henri Nouwen of ‘‘The Wounded Healer’’ states, woundedness can serve as a source of strength and healing. The priest must then recognize this woundedness as the starting point of his service in order to lead the Church into healing. To heal, the priest must bring the Church together as one body and show the Church ‘‘the Light of the World.’’ For instance, the priest must encourage parishes to hold social events and to enhance ministry programs to bring all Catholics together as a family like brothers and sisters.

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