Discerning my call to the priesthood in the Diocese of Des Moines has been a long process that has involved a lot of study and prayer. I began to think that I may be called when I was fourteen years old, but my non-religious upbringing made this a difficult prospect for me. My parents raised me with a passionate love for truth and learning, but as both had drifted away from the Church by the time I was born I was not baptized when I was an infant. Anticipating that expressing an interest in the priesthood would cause friction in my family, I turned my mind to other careers as diverse as education, music composition and performance, social work, and professional entertainment.
Though I could easily see myself performing the skills necessary for any one of the fields above, the priesthood is unique because it is not just a career; it is an entire lifestyle. The lifestyle of the priest, expressed in celebrating the Eucharist, being with people in the most important moments of their lives, teaching the truths of God, and living the celibate life continued to appeal to me during my first year of college. After much time considering the possibility, and quite a bit of time in prayer, I applied to the Diocese for formation to the priesthood.
This brings me to the present-day. I am in my last year of what is called “minor seminary.” This means that I am completing my four-year philosophy degree, and that I am approaching an important event known as “Candidacy” – which is a public expression of my own discernment, as well as the Bishop’s acceptance of my hope to be ordained. At this point in my discernment, I am experiencing a deeper understanding of the priest-as-father. I am finding that everything which initially attracted me to the priesthood as a young teenager is now being integrated into a notion of spiritual fatherhood. The priest, like the father of his children, provides food for those under his care through the table of the Eucharist, and hear the confession of those his loves and extends forgiveness – which is also done in the name of God the Father. The priesthood is a unique vocation, and a special union with God’s own Fatherhood. I sincerely hope to be able to live this life fully and publicly for the good of all of God’s people.
The most important part of my “vocations story” is that I have had no dramatic moments. I didn’t hear the Voice of God telling me what to do; I didn’t see the Holy Spirit descend; St. Peter didn’t appear to me in a dream. Instead, I am where I am today only because of my love of God and the truth, and because of a long period of prayer and discernment. I am grateful for the time that I’ve spent in seminary formation thus far, and I look forward to the future full of hope and confidence in God’s Will.
~Zach Daly will graduate Saturday, May 25, 2013 from Loras College, St. Pius X Seminary. With Zach the Office of Vocations thanks his dear parents, family members, future brother priests, and all those who support him by their love and prayers. He plans to receive the Rite of Candidacy on Sunday, June 16, 2013 at Christ the King in Des Moines at the 11 AM Mass. All are invited. ~