Meet our seminarians: Sean Maher

Sean Maher Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

Home Country: Ireland. Seminary: St. John’s Seminary.High School: St. Michael’s, Lis. Limerick Tutorial Center. College: University of Limerick. Hobbies: Reading, Gaelic football, soccer

When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

Perhaps as a young child -- I have two uncles (both brothers of my father) who are priests. I remember putting on my brother’s altar-serving clothes and pretending to celebrate Mass using a small Mass kit that one of my uncles used out in the missions in Kenya.

What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?

I read at Mass as a kid. I attended a prayer meeting in my latter years in college. I went to two World Youth Days prior to entering seminary. I spent a summer in Paray-Le-Monial (France) working for a community that organizes big retreats/pilgrimages there across the summer, a year in Rome at a school that forms young Catholic lay people.

What is your favorite Scripture

passage? Why?

Very difficult question. There are several passages that have been very important and given me great joy and hope etc. Perhaps John 10:10b “I have come so that they might have life and have it to the full” (Jerusalem Bible). Obviously, the idea of living life fully, in accordance with his plan for me. Similarly, I find Philippians 4:8 very attractive.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

God, more specifically the Holy Spirit and Jesus, although I am sure the Father was involved too. The particular line of Scripture in which I sensed the possible vocation was from the Benedictus (Lk 1:77), so one could add Luke, Zechariah and John the Baptist. Of late, I have met some good people who are living the Christian life in an outstanding way that kind of makes me want to be a priest, and a good one. There is no particular priest that has been a noticeably major influence, although of course John Paul II was inspirational in his particular way!

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

I would say, “Of course, you do! Everyone has a vocation from the Lord. You are called by God to holiness as a human being and to spread the Gospel as a Christian. You are called to fatherhood in some sense as a man. The question to ask the Lord is: ‘What is the specific vocation you give to me?’ Ask him! Then, if you think he is calling you to be a priest, spend a little time praying about it, but not too much. (Not half your life!) Pray for and seek out a good and holy spiritual director and remember such a vocation is not discerned solely by yourself but by the Church too. So, consider applying to enter [the] seminary. All the time remember that the Lord loves you completely and utterly and will always ask you to do things because of his love for you. He is not out to cause you harm! And anything he does ask of you, he will give you the grace to accomplish it. Just say yes to whatever he asks.”

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

Learning to pray and to listen carefully. Learning to distinguish good from evil and to recognize the greater good among two or more good possibilities. Recognizing the need for conversion on an ongoing basis.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Some of my sins probably, but it would depend on which people you were asking! Perhaps that someone once asked if I were Lebanese! (...given that most East coast Americans immediately recognize my Irish accent.)

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

Specific prayers prayed in the community for vocations and especially in schools (because children’s prayers are often thought to be very powerful and also it raises awareness among them, so that they might be more attentive to their vocation) and in hospitals (again there appears to be something very special about the prayers of suffering people).

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

Again it is hard to specify the exact influence. He has prayed for me (as I am sure he has for all of us). I experienced the call to the priesthood as an adult and in a deeply spiritual way while in Rome. Originally, I went there to work in the San Lorenzo Youth Centre that John Paul II gave in order to welcome young people from around the world to Rome. A second thing he hoped for was that the center would become a “hothouse” for vocations. I got to see him fairly closely during Mass and the memory abides with me. The story of his life also astounds me and makes me wonder what the Lord has in store for me if I but trust him and follow him.

How did you come to know Jesus Christ?

There are several ways that I am coming to know Him still through intellectual learning and experiential learning in prayer and service.

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

Pretty much everything that I have already referred to in the other questions: Prayer, frequent confession, Mass, prayer meetings with other young people, prayer with the family, WYDs, the summer in Paray-Le-Monial with the Emmanuel Community, the year in Rome with the Emmanuel Community, time spent in seminary...

When did you feel that God was calling you to be a priest?

Just before Christmas 2001, when praying and reading a line from Scripture, “To give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of sins.” It struck [me] that forgiveness of sins happens through the priest and that that was my vocation.

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

The Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, biographies of saints.

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

A) Whatever way his bishop asks, and B) by looking around him, praying and identifying the need where he is to serve, and seeking to address that/those need(s).

Anything else?

Encourage more activities for young adults in the parish, activities which will involve both a prayer component and an intellectual formation component that gives them light in the midst of all the cultural confusion around us.

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.

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Nation
Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

World
Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

World
Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

World
After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

Nation
DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

World
Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

Nation
What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

World
'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

World
Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Nation
Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...

World
Leaked German report shows 3,700 cases of abuse of minors in 68 years

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A 350-page document leaked to German media and published Sept. 12 documents nearly 3,700 cases of alleged sexual abuse of minors by ...

World
Pope accepts resignation of Brazilian bishop arrested for embezzlement

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a Brazilian bishop who was arrested and charged with embezzling thousands of dollars in ...

World
Love breaks chains of slavery to sin, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Only true love for God and neighbor can destroy the chains of greed, lust, anger and envy that enslave humankind, Pope Francis said. ...

Nation
Washington cardinal to meet with pope to discuss resignation

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington has told the priests of the archdiocese that he will meet soon with Pope Francis to request ...

World
Pope to convene world meeting on abuse prevention with bishops' leaders

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention ...

Nation
Supreme Court petition next step in effort to stop natural gas pipeline

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A Pennsylvania religious congregation planned to petition the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether their religious freedom rights ...