Seminarian Joseph Almeida Pilot photo/courtesy Office for Vocations
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Home Town and State: Waltham, Mass.
High School: Mohawk Trail Regional High School, Buckland, Mass.
Seminary Attending: Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary, Third Theology
What are some of the factors that led to your decision to enter the seminary and discern the question of a vocation to the priesthood?
My upbringing in a Catholic family with a strong devotion to Mary led me to seek God and his plan for my life. In this search I found the Neocatechumenal Way, which is an itinerary for rediscovering the faith that is given to us in baptism. In the Way I came to know myself better, that I am a great sinner, and that God loves me even in my sin and wants to give me the perfect joy that is to love and serve him. It is from there that I entered the seminary.
Who are some of the people who influenced your decision to enter the seminary? What is it about them that assisted you?
First and foremost were the examples of Christian men in my family, such as my father and my uncle Gus. Their witness and reliance on God throughout deep trials, especially in the loss of their wives, and the way they always gave their lives for others as Christ did, left a deep impression on me. Also Pope St. John Paul II's courageous witness and service as well as the service of my local parish priests helped me to see the humanity of the priest and how God works in a special way through his priests.
What would you say is the role of prayer in the life of a seminarian and what effect does it have on one's ability to see God's call?
Prayer plays a crucial role in the life of all the faithful, and is essential in the life and discernment of a seminarian. It is the basis on which a relationship with God is built. The communal life in the seminary helps to build up this relationship and prepares you for priestly life where prayer becomes the source of nourishment from which you draw strength to do your ministry.
What advice would you give to a man who thinking about his vocation and is considering that God may be calling him to be a priest?
I would advise him to pray, asking God to help him. Also I would suggest seeking out a catechesis of the Neocatechumenal Way as it was instrumental in my own consideration; I would not be a seminarian today if not for the Neocatechumenal Way.
What do you like most about being a seminarian?
The freedom of seeking God's will and the people that I have had the joy of meeting as well as the communal life of prayer are what I like most about the seminary.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing a man who is considering the seminary?
Discerning the call is extremely difficult. In the world today most forces pull away from the seminary and suggest to man to build his own happiness.
What are some of your hobbies or pastimes? What are some of the things you like to do in your "free" time?
When I have time I like to visit with people, play games, read, and watch movies.
What are some of your favorite authors/books/movies?
Some of my favorite authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, Fulton Sheen, Robert Jordan, Karol Wojtyla, Blessed John Paul II, Joseph Ratzinger, C.S. Lewis, and Benedict XVI. Favorite movies range from classics as in "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Fiddler on the Roof" to religious films of "St. Giuseppe Moscati Doctor to the Poor," to modern action movies "Taken." I enjoy most well done movies. Books range from Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series solely for entertainment, through to the popes for some nourishment and education.
What do you think is the best way to encourage vocations to the priesthood in the archdiocese of Boston?
We need to rebuild the domestic church, that is the family, and form Christian adults. I have found that the best tool for this is the ecclesial movements in the Church that are enabling a rediscovery of the Catholic faith and bringing all the faithful into active participation in the life of the Church. Vocations to the priesthood are a gift from God that is flowing out of these realities ready to serve in the New Evangelization.
Seminarian Spotlight is a collaborative effort between The Pilot and the Archdiocese of Boston's Office for Vocations to introduce readers to the men preparing for priesthood in the archdiocese. More seminarian profiles and information on discerning a vocation are available at www.VocationsBoston.org.