Fr. Tim Birney's Vocation Story


March 1st, 2022

1 hr 8 mins 25 secs

Season 1

Your Hosts

About this Episode

In this 12th episode of Men of the hearts, Fr. David and Fr. Craig welcome a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Tim Birney. Fr. Tim shares his journey to the priesthood that began with family life centered around his parish. A high school assignment was a catalyst to encountering God’s call to serve God as a Catholic priest. The priests discuss an active discernment group in the archdiocese, what seminary really is, how to approach fears surrounding discernment, as well as advice to men discerning. The podcasts closes with an acronym to sumup how to encourage healthy and holy vocations. Take a listen!

(0:25) Introduction: Fr. Craig and Fr. David introduce themselves and review the previous episode on a priest’s experience of saying Mass. This episode’s guest is introduced: Fr. Tim Birney. Fr. Tim was the director of priestly vocations at one point. Fr. Tim shares about a blessing in his life right now: his parish, St. Frances Cabrini, recently received a significant gift that allows the parish to renew their school facilities. The priests discuss humor and how their priesthoods are enriched by humor.

(9:45) A Snowy Chapel. Fr. David shares about the recent building of an outdoor chapel after a snowfall. Fr. Craig shares he had his appendix removed and talks about asking for St. Rita’s intercession.

(17:45) A memory with a future bishop: Fr. Tim shares about his first time meeting then Fr. Earl Boyea, and how the witness of his vigor struck him. Other helpful dynamics surrounding healthy discernment are discussed.

(21:40) Discernment Group: Fr. Craig shares about a Detroit based discernment group for young men considering a call to the priesthood. The group meets monthly, has fellowship, and discusses the shared experience of discerning the priesthood.

(22:41) Fr. Tim Birney’s vocation story: Fr. Tim shares about his upbringing and how he spent a lot of time at his local church. A school assignment about the priesthood opened his eyes to see the priesthood in a new light. Fr. Tim felt he wasn’t holy enough or smart enough to be a priest. While sitting in the library at his school looking at pictures of priests, Fr. Tim felt clearly: “I should be one of them.” His first step was going on a discernment weekend at Sacred Heart Major Seminary. He was terrified and didn’t know what it was going to look like.

(35:15) Obstacles to Discernment: Fr. Tim shares that he didn’t feel “holy” or that he was very prayerful when he first started discerning. He didn’t spend long hours in the chapel or read a lot about the priesthood. But he felt a call and sensed the priesthood is where God was calling him. Fr. Craig shares that each call to the priesthood is different; God calls each man differently.

(44:00) What the Seminary really is: Fr. Tim reminds us that the seminary is a place to discern. “You do not have to have 100 percent certainty that you will become a priest.” The faculty and staff are there to help bring clarity to the call. The seminary helps a man better understand what God wants of him. The time spent in seminary is valuable and never wasted. You will leave a better man, either for ordination or for discernment of another vocation.

(48:22) Take Your Pills: P-I-L-L. Fr. Tim explains what he sees as four important ways to promote priestly vocations: Prayer, Invite, Love your Priests, and Live Your Faith. All the faithful should pray for vocations. We should not be afraid to invite young men to consider a call to the priesthood. Supporting our parish priests helps foster healthy priests, which encourages vocations. And finally, each person living his or her faith with passion creates environments where the Holy Spirit is welcomed.

(56:23) Advice to Men Discerning: 1. How is your prayer life? Seek to grow here. 2. Get involved in your parish. Volunteer to read at Mass. See what’s going on in your parish and plug into the life of your parish. 3. Learn more about the priesthood. Read the lives of the saints. Let your heart be moved.

(59:37) What NOT to do if you are discerning: Fr. Tim encourages men to refrain from proclaiming definite statements about one’s vocation. Discernment takes time. Let the Lord confirm a vocation.

(1:00:01) A charge from Fr. Tim to those discerning: “Do not be afraid.” Finances, parents’ reactions, reputation, fear of failing, fear of inadequacy, and many other worries may keep a man from taking the next step in discerning a call to the priesthood. Fr. Tim encourages the audience: Be fearless.

(1:06:09) Closing Remarks. The hosts invite Fr. Tim to close the podcast in prayer.