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Now in my sixth year of seminary as a second year theology student, I realize that most of my vocation journey is about the people that have shown extraordinary faith to me. They were Jesus’ own hands, feet and voice revealing to me the beautiful call that our heavenly Father had prepared for me.
Father Erik Pohlmeier and Msgr. Francis Malone both showed me how pure joy can be infectious, and that made me want to be a priest from an early age. As I grew older and the fears about priesthood began to grow in me, Deacon Danny Hartnedy responded to the grace that Jesus gave him, and Deacon Danny would ask me if I knew that Jesus was calling me to be a priest. I was not ready to listen to Jesus at that time in my life, but my mother always knew the right moment would come.
I was not at peace with my college decision to go to the University of Arkansas, and my mom assuredly said, “Daniel, you have been running from this for so long, and you know where peace comes from as I have always told you. There is peace in doing the right thing.” I had so much running through my head about my vocation. I simply needed someone to ground me in Jesus. Then seminarian Patrick Friend said something I will never forget just before Holy Thursday Mass. He told me, “Don’t let fear make your decision.”
I wrestled with my mom’s words and Patrick’s words throughout the Triduum. As I sat up in the sanctuary as an altar server for the Easter Vigil and while Msgr. Malone was doing the confirmations, I had a heart to heart with Jesus about my vocation.
I talked with Jesus and told him, “Jesus, I know that I have been pushing you away and the desire that you placed in my heart. I am worried about all the things I will lose if I say yes, but I am open to your plans because I am not finding peace with the path I have chosen. I would much rather be at peace than do what I want. I know the plans that you have had for me for a while and I am not going to let my fear keep me away any longer. I am ready.”
Seminary for me has been about Jesus teaching me how to love all his people, being a servant in all cases and falling in love with Jesus. All three of these things go hand and hand. Being docile to the Lord’s will means that I am going to be put into places of great pain that need his love, mercy and touch, and that I will get to experience the great joys of his people’s lives. I have been graced with many beautiful moments as a seminarian where Jesus has touched my life and others' lives around me. During this year of formation, I ask our Father’s blessing upon me, and all those who have graced my journey with their “yes” and faith.
If you wish to contact Daniel Wendel, please e-mail Miriam Gallaher in the Vocations Office or call her at (501) 664-0340. This article was published Sept. 17, 2019. Copyright Diocese of Little Rock. All rights reserved. This article may be copied or redistributed with acknowledgement and permission of the publisher.