MOSAIC Spring 2015 Spring 2015 - Page 18

Ryan Riley, 32 Diocese of Lansing Third-year Theology MEET YOUR SEMINARIANS M y call to the priesthood began as a child growing up in Owosso, Michigan. Serving Mass and watching Fr. Robert Kolenski, our pastor at the time, intrigued me and drew me into the Mass as a kid. We moved when I was in the seventh grade because my parents purchased a golf course on the west side of the state in a small town called Saranac. Switching schools at that age was difficult. Even though my parents enrolled my brother and me in a Catholic school, I did not say anything about my faith and certainly not about priesthood. Being the “new kid,” I was more concerned with fitting in. Over the course of my high school years, my faith life decreased and the thought of priesthood waned. I was more concerned with sports, parties, and girls. This behavior amplified in my college years. Even though I succeeded academically, I lived the life of a typical “frat boy.” My faith in God and the Church were the furthest things from my mind. When I graduated, I took a job as state auditor with the Office of the Auditor General in Lansing, Michigan, where I worked for five-and-a-half years. The chaos of college stopped, though some 16 Sacred Heart Major Seminary | Mosaic | Spring 2015 of the behaviors still lingered. The silence of living alone really caused me to start thinking about where my life was headed. In the silence, the Lord found a way of reaching me again. It was disturbing at first, but I found myself starting to go back to Mass occasionally and, after a period of time, made a confession. It was in the context of confession that I asked the priest if it were possible that Lord might be calling me to the priesthood. The priest got up, went to his office, and gave me a copy of the Grand Rapids Press. In the religion section was an article, “Grand Rapids man’s road to priesthood an unusual one.” It was a story similar to mine. After serious prayer and consultation with the vocations director for the Diocese of Lansing, I decided to terminate my employment and apply for seminary in the fall of 2010. I told the vocations director that I at least had to give it a shot. The auditor general was incredibly gracious and gave me a two-year leave of absence in case I decided that I wanted my job back. My time here at Sacred Heart has not been easy, but it has resulted in spiritual growth. The formation staff wants us to be, first and foremost, holy men—men of virtue—because we cannot give to others what we do not have ourselves. And attaining holiness involves stripping away those attitudes and behaviors that are contrary to the Gospel. To be formed requires humility, something I was not accustomed to. I didn’t realize how much my ego got in the way of authentic discernment. Through the formation process here at Sacred Heart, I have come to fall in love with God. The past five-and-a-half years have been an even greater conversion for me. Through this conversion, I have found what I believe is my calling—to bring others into the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus as his priest.