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Meet our seminarians: Paul Sullivan

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Posted: 2/16/2007

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Paul Sullivan Pilot Home Parish: St. John the Evangelist, Chelmsford Seminary: Blessed John XXIII National Seminary, Weston, Mass. College: Magdalen College Hobbies: Sports, Irish music and culture, travel photo/Gregory L. Tracy


When was the first time you thought of priesthood?

The first time I thought of the priesthood was in junior high and high school. I admired the generosity and spiritual advice given by my uncle, Father Lawrence Sullivan (Boston, ‘56) and by our pastor, Father Eugene Torpey, at Epiphany Church, Cheshire, Conn.

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

I was a chaperone for college students at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto. I also attended a general audience at the Vatican in 1986 and was privileged to read one of the general intercessions at Christmas in 1991 celebrated by Pope John Paul II. I helped supervise a high school summer camp for 15 years at Magdalen College. These camps were both catechetical and recreational. I taught CCD to confirmation candidates at Sacred Heart Parish, Concord, N.H.

What is your favorite Scripture

passage? Why?

1. Psalms--Praying the psalms in the Liturgy of the Hours teaches us how to pray and with what dispositions. 2. Luke 15 - parable of the Prodigal Son. No matter how far we fall, God is waiting for us and runs to meet us when we turn to Him.

Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Please explain.

1. Father Lawrence Sullivan (mentioned above) 2. Father John Sullivan (Boston, ‘91)--my brother, who has patiently answered any questions I have, and has encouraged me throughout the discernment process. 3. Mr. John Meehan, Concord, N.H. -- one of the founders of Magdalen College. He loves the Church, the Eucharist and the priesthood.

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

Pray! Spend some time every day talking/listening to Christ in the Eucharist. Try to attend Mass every day if you can. Talk to a priest whom you admire and ask him about what the priesthood is like.

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

Prayer. Asking advice of priests and people who know you: Am I being called? Am I a good candidate for the priesthood?

Is seminary life what you thought

it would be? How is it similar and different from your expectations?

Yes, 1. Classes have been both informative and inspiring. 2. Parish assignments help us see what daily life is like for a parish priest. 3. Atmosphere of prayer -- we are encouraged to pray often throughout the day.

Did anyone invite you to consider priesthood? Please explain.

1. Father Eugene Torpey! Childhood pastor (deceased) 2. Father Lawrence Sullivan (uncle) 3. Father Patrick McMenamin, LC 4. Mr. John Meehan, theology teacher in college.

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

Huge! I have seen him in person several times. I have read much of his biography “Witness to Hope” and his writings including “Pastores dabo vobis” and “Crossing the Threshold of Hope.”

How did you come to know

Jesus Christ?

Through prayer and through the witness of priests and lay people including my parents and theology teachers in college.

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

1.Mass (daily and Sunday) 2. Weekend retreats (almost every year) 3. World Youth Day 2002 4. Working with young adults at Magdalen College.

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

Pope Benedict XVI’s (as Cardinal Ratzinger) “Called to Communion,” “Liturgy of the Hours,” Pope John Paul II’s “Pastores dabo vobis,” and Father Dom Eugene Boylan’s, “This Tremendous Lover.”

What is your day like in the

seminary?

Morning -- morning prayer, Mass, classes. Afternoon -- study, exercise, free time. Evening -- study, prayer, free time.

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

Be faithful to daily prayer. Be available to his parish people. Be generous toward his family and friends (don’t forget “where you come from”). Be fraternal toward brother priests.

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.