III Theology

Dc. Joel Brackett, St. Vincent de Paul Church, Rogers

Attends Saint Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana

Jesus Christ, the perfect shepherd, seeks to save and transfigure the soul of even his most distant sheep. I grew up in a Catholic family in Rogers, and the Lord blessed me with faithful parents who unveiled God’s love, mercy and truth to me from an early age. As I matured, I began questioning the truthfulness of the Christian faith and pursued a life of earthly, fleeting goods and distorted understandings of truth.

For many years I desired peace and satisfaction and despairingly entertained almost every incorrect source. During my freshman year at Hendrix College, a Protestant teammate on my football team initiated weekly Bible studies with me.

Through these novel encounters with Scripture, personal prayer and study, the early seeds of faith planted by the sacraments and my family fostered in me a newfound faith in and love for Jesus. Nevertheless, I had still not chosen to wholly embrace the life-changing Gospel of Christ and give up my life for such truth.

Duwan, another Protestant teammate, also started experiencing personal conversion and was knocking on my door nearly every night to discuss Christianity, mingled with the not-so-rare objection to my Catholic faith. Frankly, I had no ability to defend the Catholic faith in any substantial depth or with any rational or affective conviction.

The summer thereafter, I attended a nine-week Christian program with hundreds of other college students, along with Duwan and my friend from the weekly Bible studies. These memorable months led to my ultimate renunciation of my prior life of sin and commitment to new life in Jesus Christ. My friends continued to question my nominal Catholic faith, and I had no answers. I had become nearly convinced of the “errors” of Catholicism and for months earnestly considered leaving the faith.

Duwan and I chose to spend the following months studying Protestantism and Catholicism, after which he told me, “We are either both going to end up Catholic, or we are both going to end up Protestant.” Our lives were soon changed forever.

After falling in love with the Catholic faith and discovering the beauty of such sacred and eternal truths, I knew I wanted to give my life to the Church in some way, and Duwan believed God was calling him to enter his Catholic Church. During my sophomore and junior years at Hendrix, I encountered the Lord’s call to enter the seminary.

Every day since, I have become more and more enamored of the life of priestly service, a life of sacramental participation in Christ’s sacrificial love for the good of his flock. I hope and pray to one day be your servant as his priest, living out my vocation for the sake of your salvation and mine.

Each day in the seminary has been a learning experience whereby I have come to a deeper understanding of myself, my weaknesses, and the goodness of our Lord. As I progress through my third year of theology, I beg your prayers for me and my brother seminarians, and I assure you of mine. Your continued support never ceases to amaze us, motivate us and bring joy to our most difficult days, for which I thank you greatly.