Deacon John Croghan grew up on a farm near Hudson, Colo. He was one of seven children, and he remembers being outside a lot with his brothers and sisters.
After high school, at the age of 19, he began attending seminary. However, after a time, he decided to leave and instead pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering, which he got. He spent the next 16 years working in the aerospace industry.
Eventually, he felt the Lord calling him back to the seminary.
I was encouraged by a lot of people telling me I should try, and my family and Knights of Columbus council,“ Deacon Croghan said. “I think it is important to tell people when they think they have a vocation, the reminders reinforce God’s vocational call.”
Since his call to the priesthood came a little later in life, deacon Croghan has been studying at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary in Boston, which specializes in later vocations.
A strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph has been an important part of Deacon Croghan’s vocation. He also looks to the examples if Sts. Patrick, Brigid and Colm, as well as the Venerable Fulton Sheen.
As he prepares to become a priest, Deacon Croghan is most excited about celebrating the sacraments, being with God’s people and sharing Christ’s message.
“It is such rewarding work and I am blessed to be a part of it, he said.”
Deacon Anthony Davis was born and raised Catholic. Because of his father being in in the Air Force, he and his family had to move several times during his childhood, something Deacon Davis took as a blessing in his life.
While attending the Colorado State University, he encountered a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) missionary who had a huge impact on him. With the missionary’s support, his Catholic Fraternity (Phi Kappa Theta), his pastor, and his parents’ influence, Deacon David was able to discern a call to enter the seminary, but with just a little desire to be a priest.
“I entered seminary expecting God to tell me I was not called to the priesthood, but then, during the Spirituality Year at St. John Vianney, God not only called me to the priesthood, but he put on my heart the desire to serve the men and women of the Military Services as well,” he said.
His parents never gave up either. With prayers and huge support from them, Deacon Anthony found his true spiritual path.
“They never gave up on me when I was going down the wrong path in high school and college. I firmly believe the prayers of my parents, specifically my mother, are the reason I was able to discern this incredible vocation.”
Deacon Davis hopes to continue to give his life in service to the Church and participate in God’s work.
“The call to the priesthood is a complete gift, and I am so grateful to have been called,” he concluded.
Deacon John Almeida
Deacon John Almeida was raised in the rural town of Heath in western Massachusetts. The fourth of eight children, he remembers faith being a central part of his family and his upbringing. His father taught him the value of hard work, praying and the importance of Sunday Mass.
At the age of 12, Deacon Almeida’s mother died in an automobile accident, leaving his father to raise the eight children on his own, whose ages ranged from 17 to one. This put a huge strain on Deacon Alemeida’s father, whose health began to decline, and it also put a strain on his own relationship with the Lord.
“I became very embittered and closed to the Lord and in many ways also to my family members,” Deacon Alemeida sad. “I still went to Mass and prayed at home, but my heart was far from the Lord. I looked for happiness in having money, success, having friends and being educated, but I wasn’t at peace and couldn’t fill the void in my heart.”
This all changed when he became part of a Neocatechumenal Way community.
“It was through the Neocatechumenal Way community that I discovered my vocation,” Deacon Almeida said. “It was the place that I first ever heard the words that God loved me as a sinner.”
Deacon Almeida is excited to partake in the moments of grace which the Lord uses the priest to facilitate.
“I am really looking forward to being a part of the most precious moments of peoples’ lives, whether that is the baptism of a child, a wedding, or even a funeral, they are all special moments of grace where the love of God for man can be made manifest,” he said.
A Colorado native, Deacon Sean Conroy grew up attending Protestant schools all the way through middle school. Although he didn’t grow up attending Mass every week, he was naturally drawn to Scripture and religion. But it wasn’t until he went to Mullen High School when he had a conversion experience.
Inspired by his Confirmation sponsor, Deacon Conroy began his journey and deepened his faith and relationship with God during his four years in high school. In his freshman year, he attended a Confirmation retreat, in which he had the opportunity to go through the sacrament of Reconciliation, encountered God and had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of his life.
“The peace and joy that I experienced is indescribable, not to mention the freedom from the shame, embarrassment, and guilt that I experienced as the priest spoke those words: I absolve you of your sins,” Deacon Conroy told the Denver Catholic.
During his senior year in high school, as he attended adoration and prayer at his home parish, St. Frances Cabrini, he heard his call to priesthood. After high school, he entered the seminary.
“I began to ask God, ‘what do you want me to do with my life?’ God would always flood me with grace, joy, peace, his love, and with the answer ‘priesthood.’ After much arguing with God, He gave me the courage to accept this call,” he said.
Deacon Peter Srsich
For Deacon Peter Srsich, the idea that he might be called to the priesthood touched home as he witnessed a priestly ordination his sophomore year in high school. Growing up in Genesee, Colo., and being involved in youth group and music ministry at Christ the King Church in Evergreen, brought to him the idea of a vocation, but never before had it become so personal to him. Years later, he joined the seminary, as he realized his desire for the priesthood grew.
As his time to become a priest approaches, he is most excited to celebrate the sacraments. “God gives a special mission to His priests to baptize, to confect the Eucharist, to witness marriages, to absolve sins, to anoint the dying, and to pour out grace in countless other ways throughout the day. These are the most incredible gifts that God gives to us and I cannot wait to be an instrument for Him to continue to bless His children in this way”, he said.
The Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Maximillian Kolbe and Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano are among the figures who have deeply influenced him. Chiara, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died at a young age, played a special role because he himself was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 16. “Her example and intercession give me the strength whenever I am in need,” he said. “When she had absolutely nothing left in this world, she is remembered as saying, ‘I have everything.’”
The Blessed Virgin Mary played a unique role in Deacon John Stapleton’s vocation story – and at a time when he still had a girlfriend. As he sought to grow in his faith in order to better defend it, he came across The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Monfort, a book that changed the way he saw prayer and the devotion of the rosary. “As I grew deeper in the devotion [of the rosary], I felt the Lord inviting me to open myself up more and more to him, to give myself to Him,” he said.
He decided to attend a series of meetings for young adults interested in the priesthood. At one of these meetings, he remembers feeling great peace and wonder at the simple question: “What goes on at the seminary?” “That [wonder] made me want to enter the seminary, to give it a shot and see if it was really my vocation,” he said.
He is looking forward to celebrating Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation when he is ordained to the priesthood, but he is also enjoying the gift of consolation God has given him through his diaconate ordination.
“It’s a great joy and a great grace [to become a deacon] – especially getting to the moment of the ordination, and in that moment being filled with much confidence and peace, as well as seeing God bring about the good work that he’s done in my life, bringing that to fruition,” he said.