Meet our seminarians: Jeff Ossinger

Jeff Ossinger Pilot photo/ George Martell, Office for Vocations

Home Parish: St. William Parish, Tewksbury. Seminary: St. John’s Seminary, Brighton. High School: Central Catholic High School. College: Williams College. Hobbies: Track and field, golf, guitar.

When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

In my senior year of high school, a Marist brother came to our religion class and invited us to consider the priesthood and religious life; this was first time someone had extended this invitation to me, and I remember expressing interest. In college, I began to seriously consider the priesthood during my junior year, especially after attending my first Youth 2000 Retreat.

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

At Williams College I was quite involved with the Catholic Center; I directed music at Mass and for weekly holy hours; I did outreach and led a Bible study with my teammates from the track & field team. I also attended several Youth 2000 Retreats and FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) Conferences. After college I worked as a FOCUS missionary full time for two years. This involved various aspects of evangelization and outreach on a college campus: Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. Over a period of four years I discerned with the Dominicans (St. Joseph Province), the Franciscans of Primitive Observance, and I attended two retreat weekends at St. John’s Seminary.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

My uncle, Father Charles Stanley, is a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston. When I began to consider the priesthood seriously, I remember having a great conversation in which I told him, before anyone else, that “I can’t see myself as anything else but a priest.” As I continued to discern I often considered just how great a blessing it was to have him as a priest in our family. During my time in FOCUS, I also became very close with a priest of the Diocese of Norwich, Conn.: Father Martin Jones. He taught me how to serve at Mass and Benediction, and he introduced me to the Liturgy of the Hours. I spent a lot of time at his parish and received much encouragement from his example and friendship.

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

“Be not afraid.” I echo these words of John Paul II, found throughout sacred Scripture, because I believe that fear is perhaps the greatest obstacle to entering the seminary. We are afraid of what following Christ will cost. But I would encourage a young man who thinks he might have a vocation to be a priest to consider the promise that Christ gives in return: “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the Gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time...and in the age to come eternal life” (Mk 10:29-30). It is true. Consider this promise often in prayer, “Be not afraid,” and remember that “the measure of your life will be the measure of your courage” (Matthew Kelly, author and speaker).

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

To foster a culture of vocations, I think it is most important that Eucharist adoration flourishes, especially in parishes. So many of the men currently in seminary and religious formation (including myself) discovered their vocations during time spent with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. United with an increase in eucharistic devotion must be deeper devotion to Our Lady, especially through the daily rosary.

What was your career or background before entering the seminary?

After graduating from college and before entering the seminary, I was working as a FOCUS missionary. FOCUS is a missionary organization that trains recent college graduates in evangelization and catechesis and sends them back onto college campuses to share the fullness of the Catholic faith with other students. I spent two years as a FOCUS missionary at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J.; our main apostolic work consisted of Bible studies, large group prayer and fellowship events, and one-on-one leadership formation.

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

I began to think about the priesthood seriously after a Youth 2000 Retreat my junior year in college; after graduation I joined FOCUS and began making a daily eucharistic holy hour. During the moments of silence in adoration I began to hear God’s call.

Please describe the importance of prayer in your life?

Prayer is not only the most important part of my life, but I strive to make it my whole life. That is, while I set apart time each day for Mass, the breviary, rosary and holy hour, I also strive to preserve moments of silence throughout the day, in order to raise my mind and heart to the Lord and to “things which are above.”

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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