“I thought my life was going to end when I entered seminary, but it really began once I got there.” Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican are joined by Fr. J.J. Mech, rector at Detroit’s Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Together, they discuss the role of art in our churches and encountering the Lord. Fr. J.J. shares his vocation story, his parent’s reaction to him entering seminary, and how he’s been fulfilled and filled with joy in his vocation as a priest.
(00:03) Fr. Craig Giera and Fr. David Pellican welcome us to this episode of Men of the Hearts. This episode’s guest Fr. J.J. Mech is the rector of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. Fr. J.J. has a great love of art and does many types of creative expressions including sculpting and painting. He says, “I discover the Lord through art.” He discusses the power of praying with art, and how he’s brought a vision for the role of art to the Cathedral.
(24:34) Fr. J.J. is invited to share his vocation story. Though attracted to discerning, in college Fr. J.J. kept his discernment hidden from others, even telling people he was at the library when he went to visit the seminary. As a college student at Michigan State, he made the decision to transfer to the seminary. He tells the story of telling his parents that he would be entering seminary. His father was deeply moved and began crying. His mother said, “I knew there was a reason you lived,” referencing his very premature birth.
(37:22) “We’re all called. It doesn’t matter who we are, we’re all called.” Fr. J.J. shares a reflection on how the priesthood is filled with men of diverse backgrounds, gifts, and personalities. Early on in his discernment of the priesthood, he felt that he didn’t fit the mold; Fr. J.J. felt unimportant compared to the priest in the sanctuary, “That’s not me.” However, he can see now how God utilizes his gifts in the priesthood, how God calls different types of men, and that God wanted him to be a priest, just as he is.
(41:18) The hosts and guests discuss the role of parental approval in the process of discerning the priesthood. “Parents always want what's best for their kids, but sometimes, parents can’t see how you could be really happy or fulfilled doing it (serving as a priest). Sometimes that leads parents to be initially concerned.” They discuss how the priesthood is a sacrifice, but it’s one worth making: “You’re gonna make a sacrifice somewhere in life; have that sacrifice chosen with God, instead of the sacrifice just heaped upon you. Everybody has to go through some type of cross.” Fr. Giera shares, “What we really need right now, we need more priests. God needs you, and we need you.”
(51:20) “If there are young men listening who are thinking about the priesthood, considering a call, what advice would you give them?” Our guest Fr. J.J. gives a powerful reflection: “Talk to a priest, to someone who can help you… Be yourself. Continually pray. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you guidance, and he will lay it out for you. Don’t do it alone.” The episode is closed in prayer.