Our Seminarians

Our Seminarians > Deacon Joseph Michael Zwosta


Deacon Joseph Michael Zwosta

Deacon Joseph Michael Zwosta

Home Parish: Resurrection, Gerritsen Beach
Seminary: Pontifical North American College, Rome

In our society, the idea of a vocation to the priesthood is counter-cultural.  You may find that your family or friends do not understand your desire to become a priest.  You may even run into people who think that it's downright strange to want to be a priest.  If you think that God is calling you to be a priest, you have an obligation to pursue these thoughts through prayer and discernment, no matter the cost.  Be consoled by the fact that millions of Catholics pray every day for discerners, seminarians, and priests.  God will give you the grace to overcome any obstacle if you only say: "Here I am, Lord, I come to do your will."


After receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, I became more lax in my practice of the faith.  In the words of the Book of Revelation, I became “lukewarm.”  When I entered college in 2003, I made a promise to myself and to God that I would begin to actively practice my faith once more.  I found that there was an active, vibrant Catholic life on campus, if you knew where to look for it.  I started to attend daily Mass several nights a week, as well as Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament on Tuesday nights.  I made numerous friends who were also seeking to live authentically Catholic lives in an environment that can often be hostile toward virtue.  Around my sophomore year, I started to seriously think about the possibility of studying for the priesthood.  I found prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to be particularly fruitful and fulfilling.  I started attending monthly meetings with other men who were seriously considering priestly vocations.  


When I was first discerning my vocation in college, I found myself drawn to the work of a parish priest, even though I was very much influenced by numerous saintly Jesuits at Georgetown.  I started to regularly discuss my vocational thoughts with a priest that I trusted.  Around the end of my junior year, I got into regular contact with priests from the Diocese of Brooklyn.  After attending a Vocations retreat at the Seminary in Douglaston and a Project Andrew dinner at the bishop’s residence, I decided definitively to apply to the seminary for our diocese.


I am excited by the prospect of ministering to the members of the faithful at the most important moments of their lives.  Having grown up in Brooklyn, I have great affection for the people of my home diocese.  Our unique diocese, the Diocese of Immigrants, provides so many wonderful opportunities to serve Catholics from all walks of life and national origins.  I can’t imagine spending my life, or my priesthood, anywhere else!


As I mentioned, Brooklyn is well-known as the “Diocese of Immigrants,” and she has lived up to this title ever since her inception in 1853.  Nearly all of our churches, schools, seminaries, and other diocesan institutions were built by immigrants who sought simply to practice the faith of their fathers in this land of opportunity.  In the present day, we continue to welcome newcomers.  The mission of the clergy of this diocese remains the same: to preach the Gospel and administer the sacraments to all those who profess our faith, and to call all men and women to the fullness of truth in the Church of Christ.  The greatness of the Diocese of Brooklyn is the greatness of the universal Church: unity in diversity.


Life in the seminary is structured, yet flexible enough to accommodate the unique personalities and needs of individual seminarians.  Sometimes people forget that seminarians are ordinary men. Very often, seminarians go down to the gym for games of basketball, football, and even wiffle-ball!  Free time is also spent studying or praying privately in one of the chapels.  I entered Cathedral Seminary Residence as a Pre-Theologian, after graduating from Georgetown in Washington D.C. I am currently completing my studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical North American College, Rome


I would like to mention the most important spiritual practices in discerning my vocation have been attendance at Holy Mass and personal prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.  A priest is ordained to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the person of Christ.  It is imperative that those who aspire to the sacred ministry develop a deep and lasting devotion to the Eucharist.  Intimately connected with this is devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and Mother of Priests.  Praying the Rosary has been a particularly fruitful practice for me in discerning my vocation.  Talking with holy priests and other men discerning priestly vocations was also an invaluable help to me.


1) Attend Mass and receive the Eucharist often.
2) Frequent the Sacrament of Penance.
3) Pray in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
4) Develop a strong devotion to Our Lady, and other saints.
5) Talk to a priest about your vocational thoughts, either at your parish or your school