Are You Willing to Say “Yes”?

When one lives in the seminary, one often hears “Vocation Stories” from the seminarians. They describe the way in which they “heard” and answered God’s call to the priesthood. Some stories include literally “leaving everything behind”, dramatic conversions, struggles and difficulties in saying “Yes” to God’s call. My own vocation story is not as interesting or entertaining—some might describe it as boring—because all my life I wanted to be a priest. I never thought of, desired, or  dreamed about anything else but becoming a priest. Deep in my heart, I knew what God wanted from me and I knew that I should begin my journey towards priesthood at the High School Seminary, Cathedral Prep in Elmhurst. I told family and friends that I was going to Cathedral because of the small size, the easy travel, and the reasonable tuition, but I knew that I was going there for one reason—I wanted to be a priest. Cathedral Prep gave me the proper environment that I needed to confirm that God could be, and was, calling me to the priesthood. Thanks to the priests at Cathedral, especially Fr. Fred Marano, Fr. Bill Dulaney, and Fr. Tom Ahearn, I was able to understand that priesthood wasn’t so much what I wanted but what God wants for me. These priests became a great inspiration for me against the temptations and discouragements present in our culture.

Today with the help of Fr. Joseph Calise, Fr. John Cush, Msgr. James Cooney and other fine priests and faculty, Cathedral Prep continues to be that good environment, a holy place for young men to discern the call to priesthood.

After four years at Cathedral Prep, I entered the college seminary, Cathedral Seminary Residence in Douglaston. The very first day I heard the words, “We don’t need priests, we need good and holy priests.” After hearing these words, I figured there was no need for me to unpack—either I was going to leave or I would be asked to leave. After two weeks of living out of my suitcase, the rector, Monsignor (now Bishop) Cisneros came to my room and asked me, “How badly do you want this?” That question changed my life. In fact, I have had to ask myself that same question many times during the following eight years. During that time I have come to realize that what Bishop Cisneros was asking was, “Are you willing to say ‘Yes’ – in the midst of fears, imperfections, and doubts? Are you willing to say ‘Yes’ fully and totally?” Seeing the joy of priests that I have lived with, at “Douglaston”, in the major seminary in Huntington and on my pastoral year at St. Mary Star of the Sea in Far Rockaway, and watching my brother seminarians after their priestly ordination, I have come to believe that it’s worth it – it’s worth everything.

Fr. James Kuroly

Fr. James Kuroly ’07, is the Administrator of St. Rose of Lima, Rockaway.