Home Vocations They came, they saw, they entered the seminary

They came, they saw, they entered the seminary


Dialog reporter   Diocese’s two newest seminarians took concerns, questions to priests at Come and Seek gatherings   The thought of entering the seminary had been in the minds of Brennan Ferris and Joe Sullivan for quite a while, but the decision to go wasn’t solidified until after both had attended Come and Seek meetings with local priests and other men discerning their vocation. Come and Seek is a program started by diocesan priests last year to introduce men to priestly life in an informal setting. Ferris, a Wilmington native who attended St. Elizabeth elementary and high schools, is a sophomore at the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in South Orange, N.J. He said he had thought about entering the priesthood for several years, but it was as a senior in high school that the call became stronger. He attended Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., as a freshman and heard about Come and Seek when he was back in Delaware. He contacted Father Charles Dillingham, a member of the diocesan vocations team and the pastor at St. Mary of the Assumption in Hockessin. Father Dillingham had been Ferris’ pastor at St. Elizabeth. “Through Father Dillingham and CAS … it became reality. It was formalized through my talking to Father Dillingham,” he said in early January. “We both decided it was time for me to take the next step.” Sullivan said Come and Seek was “a very big part” of his decision. “I didn’t really know much about the process of applying to the seminary, or even what the seminary was all about. It just happened to be about the time Come and Seek was starting,” he said.      Joe Sullivan “I could ask all the questions I needed answers to, and I was around other people who were discerning. I got a lot of great information and a better idea of what was expected of a seminarian.” Like Ferris, he spoke to Father Dillingham. Both men also named Father Anthony Giamello as an influence. Father Giamello served at St. Elizabeth when Ferris was a student, and his most recent parish assignment was at Immaculate Conception in Elkton, Md., where Sullivan worshiped. Unlike Ferris, Sullivan attended public schools in the Binghamton, N.Y., area, but his family was devout and he attended daily Mass often. He was looking for work when a friend who had gotten a job in Delaware invited him to move to the First State, which is how Sullivan, 27, ended up at Immaculate Conception. He has a degree in nutrition from the State University of New York at Oneonta, but now his life’s work will be “concern about the body and the soul.” Sullivan is a first-year theology student at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. Ferris, 19, said Come and Seek is a great idea, even if a person isn’t called to the priesthood. “Even if the guy isn’t called or he’s never really thought about it, it gives him the opportunity to meet others who are serious about the faith.” It also gave him the opportunity to meet priests on a different level, speak with men who have entered the seminary, and “see with open eyes. It allows guys to really discern.” Ferris said he has received nothing but support from his family and his friends from St. Elizabeth, where he was a member of campus ministry and played soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. “Everyone’s been supportive and happy. A lot of people have said they want me to officiate at their wedding,” he said. Sullivan encourages others to give Come and Seek a try if they are not sure what God is calling them to do. “I would say if you feel like maybe you have a calling, try to look into it. You obviously feel like you’re being called for a reason. When you go into the seminary, it’s another step in discerning. It’s the next step for figuring out if it’s right for you. Only good can come from this.”