18 Jul Joseph, Come and Follow Me
When I was in the seventh grade I told my parish priest (Msgr. Gerry Langelier), “I want to be like you.” Like many of the boys at IHM I admired him – he was a positive, prayerful and joyful priest who generously served the families of our neighborhood. Being one of his “altar boys” (he was Moderator) I had the privilege of seeing him “up close.” His reverence and love for the Eucharist as well as his attentiveness to the people of the parish made a great impression on me so much so that I heard in and through his priesthood the voice of Jesus say to me: “Joseph, Come and Follow me.”
Taking my early interest in the priesthood seriously he told me about Cathedral Prep Seminary (then in Brooklyn) – eager to visit he brought me to an Open House a few weeks later – I enrolled the following year.
While I would do it all over again, entering a formation program at a young age was no easier path to the altar…I still had to grow and develop. Facing the challenges and difficulties of adolescence is never easy – handling them as a seminarian brought me added pressure. Cathedral taught me the importance and power of prayer. I also learned during my time of youthful formation how to openly and honestly share my feelings and experiences in life with a Spiritual Director. My happiness and success in the seminary and in the priesthood has been because of prayer and spiritual direction.
I owe a great deal of debt to those who encouraged my vocation at a young age: my parents (especially the faith witness of my mother) and siblings; my friends who never made me feel awkward about wanting to be a priest and my parish who from day one spiritually adopted me. It has been said, “It takes a village.” I am a firm believer that for men to be formed as healthy, happy and holy priests, “It takes a parish.”
Living the priesthood these past sixteen years has been like having “box seats” in the stadium of life. As each day brings us a new challenge, opportunity and experience with life the priest is there “front and center” to help us, guide us and remind us that “with God all things are possible.”
Fr. Joseph Fonti
Fr. Joseph Fonti ’92 is the Rector of Cathedral Prep and Seminary High School and the Director of the Office of Ministry and Life of Priests.