Deacon Robert Blaney Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy
Help us expand our reach! Please share this article
Home town: Framingham. Seminary: St. John’s Seminary, Brighton. High School: Framingham North High. College: Boston College. Hobbies: Piano, acting. Primary career before entering the seminary: Actor. Ordained to transitional diaconate: Jan. 27, 2007
When was the first time you thought of priesthood?
While I was working as an actor in New York City, I realized that I wanted to connect with something more real. Sensing that my priorities were shifting, I began praying for direction in my life. My mother later revealed to me that during this time she had been praying to God for the very same thing. I began to read the Bible and spiritual classics of the Church. I found myself going to Mass more frequently as well as cultivating a relationship with the Blessed Mother, meeting other Catholics of my generation and spending a great deal of time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It was in the midst of this transition in life that I heard God inviting me to give my life for His Church.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to the seminary?
During my final year of living in New York City (I lived and worked there for 13 years) I became involved with two Catholic young adult groups and the 37th Street Catholic Young Adults. Six months prior to entering the seminary, I attended the discernment retreat sponsored by the Vocation Office.
What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why?
Romans 12:2 “Do not conform yourself to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is pleasing and perfect.” Living in such confusing times as we do, when it is easier to go along with whatever is popular or “politically correct” at the moment, I find strength in this passage. It reminds me that God’s truth is “The Truth.”
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.
When I first experienced the “call” to the priesthood, I was intimidated and frightened by the whole notion. I didn’t tell anyone about it. I tried to block it out of my mind. But every day there would be some event, a remark by a friend, a scene in a movie, or something in the newspaper that reminded me that God indeed seemed to be calling me for some work far greater than myself.
What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a vocation?
God, who has created us and knows all of us as the unique individuals that we are, communicates His love and His grace to every person in a specific and personalized way. Be attentive to the extraordinary things that happen to us in our ordinary lives. There is a reason for everything. Confusion, fear, or helplessness is best remedied by admitting to ourselves that we are only weak human beings and that we need God. Confide in Jesus Christ and allow quiet time to be able to listen to Him. Pray for guidance. Finally, ask for the strength to listen with an open heart to the answers that God gives you.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I acted on Broadway for many years. I performed “2 Pianos, 4 Hands” in the New York production, the Canadian production, and the U.S. National tour from 1998-2001.
What activities would you recommend in order to foster a culture of vocations.
What signs led you to believe that God was calling you to be a priest?
I immersed myself in prayer and brought to God all the reasons why I didn’t believe that I should answer His call. One by one, every one of my issues got resolved in such a way that as the days went on I found myself becoming peaceful and even enthusiastically joyful with the decision to investigate what it entailed to discern a vocation to the priesthood. I still realized that I was unworthy we all are but God gave me the necessary grace needed to follow Him.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life.
My faith in Jesus Christ allowed me to get through many stressful times in my life. Even prior to entering the seminary, every performance began with prayer and ended with prayer to God. Jesus carried me when I felt overwhelmed. My prayer life increased when I realized more fully that I could not do any of what I was doing on my own.
What are some of your favorite and most important spiritual readings/ books/ passages?
Scripture, Thomas à Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ,” [and the] Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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.