Matthew Kelly

Third Theology

Pontifical North American College
Mount Saint Mary's Seminary
University of Notre Dame

I grew up in Manassas, Virginia, the youngest of three with two loving sisters. My parents taught us family values of looking after each other, playing together, and using any talents we had to glorify God. Most importantly, they taught us to pray and always took us to church. Despite the great example set for me, however, I had a lot of difficulty behaving at Mass and would dread going to church on Sunday. When I was very young, around kindergarten or first grade, my dad gave me the following advice: to simply watch the priest during Mass and imitate him. I still remember that first Sunday of watching and imitating. The priest left a big impression on me with his reverent attentiveness throughout the Mass. It was the first time I thought about being a priest.

The next time I thought about priesthood was in high school, just before my junior year. There was one night over the summer when I really wanted to go to church, so my sister offered to drive us there. We arrived while the church was having Eucharistic Adoration. I had never been to Adoration or seen a monstrance before, but I recognized the Blessed Sacrament from Mass. We just sat there for a while, and as we left, my sister asked if I wanted to go with her to Mass the next day. It was my first time attending daily Mass, and we had a brand new priest at the parish to celebrate Mass that day. He spoke about the process of becoming a priest, which I had never considered. My sister kept taking me back to daily Mass, and I kept wondering about being called to the priesthood.

Meanwhile, I developed an interest in singing and went to Christopher Newport University to study music. Our choir sang for a Mass in Belgium during my freshman year, and it was during that Mass that I had a profound encounter with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Overwhelmed with the love I had encountered, I sought out opportunities to become involved with Catholic Campus Ministries at Christopher Newport. Before long, I could not shake the thought of priesthood. I prayed about it day and night. The thing was, I had a really great girlfriend, a young woman whose conversion to Catholicism challenged and encouraged me to seek our Lord deeper each day. We were blessed with a great relationship, so we both wondered why the call to priesthood was so strong in my mind and heart. We continued to discern as I went to Notre Dame to study sacred music. After much confusion and anxiety mixed with many graces and joys, it became increasingly clear that the Lord was setting my heart on fire with celibate love for His Kingdom, and we broke up peacefully. I spent a year working as an opera singer while prayerfully applying to become a seminarian for the Diocese of Richmond, and I continued my discernment into the seminary beginning in the fall of 2018. I am humbled and inspired by the seminarians around me every day, and I am overjoyed by the opportunity to respond each day to the Love of our High Priest who has been wooing me all my life.

Favorite Book:  Song of Songs

Favorite Saint:  St. Augustine

Home Parish:  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Newport News, VA