Meet our seminarians: Nicolas Twaalfhoven

Nicolas Twaalfhoven

Home Parish: Our Lady Star of the Sea, Marblehead. Seminary: St. John’s Seminary. High School: St. John’s Prep., Danvers. College: Boston College . Hobbies: Music, sailing, soccer.

When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

Sophomore year of college through prayer, conversations with friends and priests. When I considered myself a priest, I felt a great interior freedom.

What is your favorite Scripture

passage? Why?

‘‘He must increase; I must decrease’’ (John 3:30). In this passage, St. John the Baptist gives voice to the essential motive of the truly Christian life. Only through allowing Christ to move every thought and action of our daily life do we become pure instruments of God’s love.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

Friends and priests in college who took seriously Pope John Paul II’s call to holiness and who inspired me to seek the interior freedom that comes only when we do what God wills.

Please tell us, what are some of

the most important parts of

discernment?

Our first and most basic task should always be to live a holy and virtuous life. After that, when we have begun to look to God (not ourselves) for happiness, he will begin gently to call us in a particular direction.

Is seminary formation what you thought it would be?

I feel very blessed to have come to a place in which so many men are so dedicated to following the Lord. Vocations are not born in isolation. Genuine Christian friendships are vital for a seminarian and they can help a man to come to know God’s will.

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

Men and women need to be convinced that God is love, and they need to know and experience this love firsthand before they can support men who decide to become instruments of God’s love. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is essential to a culture which fosters vocations because it is here that man can focus his entire being on the source of love.

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

His ‘‘universal call to holiness,’’ especially in the last few months, influenced me greatly. Today I am convinced that the defining words of his pontificate -- ‘‘Be not afraid!’’ -- are prophetic for our age. In following Christ, we have nothing to be afraid of. This is something that I must remind myself of constantly.

What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and his Church?

Prayer, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, daily Mass (at Boston College). This routine is essential; when we become immersed in the sacraments and the liturgical life of the Church, we are open to every grace that God wishes for us.

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

Through prayer and spiritual conversations with friends I realized that I was intensely interested in the ‘‘things of God’’ (i.e. Scripture, the sacraments). Also, when I imagined myself as a priest I felt great interior freedom. It made sense, both to me and to my friends. Suddenly, I felt a real confidence which had been lacking before I decided to apply to the seminary.

What is your day like in the seminary?

The day is full. We start with morning prayer at 7 a.m., then we have Mass at 7:30 a.m. We have class in the morning until noon. Some students have an elective class in the afternoon. We have adoration between 5-6 p.m. Some days we have human and spiritual formation in the evening. The rest of the time is spent in reading and writing papers. How does the priest best follow in the footsteps of the apostles?

By following Christ, the servant and master of the Apostles. In reading Scripture, we realize that the Apostles became true disciples of Christ only when they turned their entire lives over to him. In turn, the priest today must turn his entire being over to Christ, who will make us effective preachers of the Gospel of Life.

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.

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