Meet Matthew Bauer and Matthew Curley, two new seminarians who are attending Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving, Texas, for the Diocese of Charleston.
Curley, 18, was homeschooled with his three brothers and three sisters, and attended St. Catherine of Siena Church in Lancaster.
His parents, Jim and Lori Curley, raised the family on a farm in Bethune, where they helped take care of cows, pigs and chickens, plus cats and dogs.
Living on a farm and working with the land and animals brought him closer to God, Curley said. It also taught him the value of hard work and giving oneself completely to a task.
“Even though it was hard work, it was also a lot of fun. I have a lot of happy memories from there,” he said, adding that, ideally, he would like to one day be a priest in his home parish.
Curley said he has always wanted to be a priest and recalled “playing Mass” with his siblings. By the time he was in 10th grade, a path to the priesthood started becoming a real part of his discernment journey.
He felt God speaking to him through scripture and the saints, especially St. John Paul II, who inspired the teen through his leadership in reaching out to so many people.
“He led people to Christ every day as part of his life,” Curley said.
The teen said he’s looking forward to his philosophy class and attending daily Mass in a community of men who have God at the center of their lives.
“My first thought of being a priest was in the fifth grade when I was a little kid,” Bauer said, adding that he also considered being a scientist in the field of green energy.
As he grew up, he was influenced by strong religious teachers who encouraged him to pursue his vocation. Then came a difficult period in his life when he said no to God, and followed his own path.
Eventually, he went to Father Jeremi Wodecki, seeking spiritual guidance in an effort to make amends with God. Bauer said the priest was a strong influence who helped him accept his calling.
“I realized how deep I’d buried my vocation,” Bauer said. “He helped me be true to myself.”
Other seminarians include: Michael Cellars, second year of pre-theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston; Patrick Judd, second year of college at Holy Trinity Seminary; Jimmy Touzeau, first year of theology at St. Mary’s; Francisco Onate-Vargas, studying his second year of theology at Holy Trinity; Rhett Williams, in his second year of theology at Theological College in Washington, D.C.; William Frei, in his graduate year at Theological College; and Andrew Fryml, who will be ordained to the transitional diaconate in 2016.