Meet our seminarians: Arthur MacKay

Arthur MacKay Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

Home Parish: St. Ignatius, Chestnut Hill. Seminary: Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, Weston. High School: Catholic Memorial High School. College: Boston College. Graduate: New England College of Optometry. Hobbies: Power walking, bicycling, golf, violin, piano.

When was the first time you thought about priesthood?

I began to think about if I was called to be a priest when I was an altar server at St. Ignatius Church. I loved serving during the Mass and the Easter Triduum. I could always “feel” that I belonged there. I also hoped that God would allow me to help people. I also was interested in science and eyesight. I pursued a career in optometry, but never forgot that I was being called for the priesthood. Whenever the priest would talk about the priest shortage, I would look at the crucifix in Church and think about my calling. As I matured in my understanding of Catholicism, I felt a stronger call to the priesthood and applied in 2004 to the Archdiocese of Boston.

What were major Catholic

activities you participated in

prior to the seminary?

I participated in the Vocation Office retreats and had my questions answered by talking with the Boston Vocation Office and the Boston seminarians. As my questions were answered, I felt a stronger call by the Lord to be a priest.

What is your favorite Scripture

passage? Why?

I have always enjoyed reading the Scripture presented at the Mass so that I could look at what came before and after the reading. I enjoyed trying to find out the meaning behind the reading. I would ask my teachers in school, “What did the Church understand about these readings?” The most important readings that I ever found were from Hosea 6:6 --“For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts.” and Luke 18:26-27 -- “Those who heard this said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ and He said, ‘What is impossible for human beings is possible for God.’” Hosea always has reminded me not to have superficial religious practices and Luke has reminded me that God is in charge and we must conform our will to God’s as He will make everything possible.

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

I would tell a young man to quiet his mind by sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament in exposition or in the tabernacle. As one prays quietly, one can allow the mind to slow down to be open to God’s calling. Without the quiet mind, one begins to struggle with the problems of life and the world and may lose the clear understanding of God’s call.

What would people be surprised

to know about you?

Most are surprised that I am teaching myself to play the violin and that I love sports trivia.

What signs led you to believe that God was calling you to be a priest?

As I grew in my profession of optometry, my patients would sometimes call me “Father” or they would ask me about their spiritual lives. I had many interactions with priests who had eye disease or were dying. I was constantly talking about service to God while I was an optometrist. When I applied for seminary, many events occurred to facilitate my application and attendance at Blessed John XXIII National Seminary.

What is your day like in

the seminary?

I love how the day is organized around prayer. I usually get up at 6:30 a.m. While morning prayer starts at 7:40 a.m., I like to get to the chapel around 7 a.m. in order to do the invitatory Psalm and the office of r eadings. I then do contemplative prayer or a rosary as I wait for the 7:40 a.m. start of morning prayer. This allows me to quiet my mind for the busy day so that I am doing what God wants for me to become a good priest. Breakfast usually starts at 8 a.m. Classes usually start at 8:40 a.m. and continue until Mass time at 11:45 a.m. Each class lasts 50 minutes with a 10-minute break.We usually have three or four classes in the morning. After the 11:45 a.m. Mass, we have lunch. We may have afternoon meetings or one optional class depending on the day. On Friday’s at 1 p.m we have optional choir practice called “Schola.”

Anything you want to add?

To quote seminarian Matt Westcott, “Give the seminary a shot!” This experience is going to be beyond all of my expectations in knowing Jesus and my role in this vocation.

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

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