COLORADO SPRINGS. Seminarian Thomas Pressley, who recently completed his third year of theology studies at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate by Bishop James Golka on June 4. The Herald recently interviewed Pressley about his background and vocational journey:
CCH: Tell us about your background — where you grew up, your parents and siblings, etc.
TP: I was raised in Lubbock, Texas. My parents worked at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. I have one sister, but we added in some foreign exchange student siblings to get our count up.
Where did you complete your undergraduate studies and what was your major?
I graduated from the Air Force Academy with a degree in biology.
When did you start seriously discerning the priesthood?
Most of my “serious” discernment was an attempt to run away from the priesthood. I believe God called me to the priesthood quite clearly in Eucharistic Adoration in 2009 but I spent the next several years fleeing from that idea and chasing other pursuits. I finally decided to answer that call in January 2017 while working with the Missionaries of Charity in Kolkata, India.
Who are some of the people who were instrumental in fostering your priestly vocation? Are there any certain priests who are mentors?
Before attending seminary, the most influential priests in my life were Father Jim O’Connor, my parish priest from Lubbock, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, Ordinary of the Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS), and Father Kerry Abbott, the former vocations director for AMS. Since attending seminary, the list has only increased. I am grateful for all the great mentors and friends I have made along the way and am confident they know who they are.
What have you found to be the most challenging about your seminary studies?
Learning philosophy and how to think was challenging my first two years; my papers from early seminary just embarrass me now. But the hardest part of seminary was leaving my friends in the military and being thrown into a new place with men of many ages and every personality you can imagine.
What have you enjoyed most about seminary?
Seminary is a time devoted to prayer and study surrounded by men who are striving to love and serve God with their whole life. I enjoy coming to know Jesus better every day in prayer, learning about the faith which I love, and learning from my seminarian brothers what it means to serve and strive for holiness.
How have you changed or grown since you started out as a seminarian?
I hope I have grown in empathy, emotional intelligence, compassion, and patience . . . but we are all a work in progress.
Where are you assigned this summer?
I will be assisting at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Castle Rock.
What advice would you have for a man who might feel called to the priesthood?
Keep praying. Do not be afraid to come to seminary; God will let you know if it’s not for you. If it is for you, you will never have been happier. If you take it seriously, I guarantee you will leave a better man than when you entered.