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Seminarian reflects on his continuing journey to priesthood

These days Nick Fleming is the only seminarian from the Diocese of Belleville at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.

While it is certainly a singular honor, he would not mind some company.

Fleming hopes to be ordained a deacon next year, and in June of the following year he hopes to be ordained to the priesthood.

“A lot of people I meet have never met a seminarian before,” he says. “It’s neat to be able to share that experience with them.”

Another seminarian, Thomas Lugge from the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish, plans to enter Kenrick-Glennon next year.

Fleming was the speaker at the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Holy Hour at St. Clare of Assisi Church in O’Fallon on April 22. St. Clare of Assisi was one of several parishes in the diocese that held a holy hour to pray for vocations.

His holy hour reflection was inspired by Luke’s Gospel. Fleming says one of the things he loves about Luke is that the whole Gospel is framed in the beginning and at the end by this theme of saying “yes” to God’s will.

“The Gospel begins with Mary saying yes to her vocation and to the angel Gabriel,” he says. “Despite her young age and her own fear and confusion she still says, ‘be it done unto me according to your word.’ The Gospel ends with Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane saying again to His Father, ‘Not my will but may Your will be done.’ And with this, He says ‘yes’ to the cross and to His vocation. Jesus says the same fiat, the same ‘be it done unto me,’ as His mother.”

Fleming called Mary and Jesus the two pillars of Luke’s Gospel because they both say yes to their vocation with resolve and confidence, despite their own fears and despite every reason to say no.

“But between Mary and Jesus in the Gospel is Peter,” he says. “He’s like us. He can be great in one moment and not so great in another moment.”

Fleming says Peter takes a chance on Jesus. “Jesus says the same words to Peter that the angel Gabriel said to Mary: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Jesus is willing to meet Peter where he’s at and walk with him throughout his own ‘yes,’ even though it’s a gradual process with a lot of ups and downs.”

Fleming said that one of the questions he is asked most often is what made him want to become a priest.

“To most people it seems like a huge leap of faith,” he says. “I can point to a few big events that pushed me in that direction and led me toward the priesthood, but I think something that gets left out is that every big ‘yes’ to God is built up by a lot of small, every day ‘yeses.’ The big leap of jumping into the priesthood (and marriage) is narrowed slowly by every small act of wanting to do God’s will.”

Fleming says that if we try to follow Jesus in every moment, in every little act of love, then the big moments won’t seem nearly as momentous or terrifying as they might. He calls this process the work of the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is how we see someone like Peter go from being barely willing to cast his net one more time to eventually being willing to be crucified upside down.”

Fleming says we must pray that God works on us the same way.

“He worked on Peter,” he says. “We need to pray that more young people are open to this process of being elevated through their vocation. Just as Peter was elevated from a fisherman to a fisher of men. Just as Jesus elevates simple bread and wine into his body and blood. Let’s pray that our young people hear Jesus call them out into deep water and in the face of fear or difficulties or any kind of evil, let’s pray that all of us have the courage to say, like Joan of Arc, ‘I am not afraid. I was born to do this.’” These days Nick Fleming is the only seminarian from the Diocese of Belleville at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis.

While it is certainly a singular honor, he would not mind some company.

Fleming hopes to be ordained a deacon next year, and in June of the following year he hopes to be ordained to the priesthood.

“A lot of people I meet have never met a seminarian before,” he says. “It’s neat to be able to share that experience with them.”

Another seminarian, Thomas Lugge from the Cathedral of St. Peter Parish, plans to enter Kenrick-Glennon next year.

Fleming was the speaker at the World Day of Prayer for Vocations Holy Hour at St. Clare of Assisi Church in O’Fallon on April 22. St. Clare of Assisi was one of several parishes in the diocese that held a holy hour to pray for vocations.

His holy hour reflection was inspired by Luke’s Gospel. Fleming says one of the things he loves about Luke is that the whole Gospel is framed in the beginning and at the end by this theme of saying “yes” to God’s will.

“The Gospel begins with Mary saying yes to her vocation and to the angel Gabriel,” he says. “Despite her young age and her own fear and confusion she still says, ‘be it done unto me according to your word.’ The Gospel ends with Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane saying again to His Father, ‘Not my will but may Your will be done.’ And with this, He says ‘yes’ to the cross and to His vocation. Jesus says the same fiat, the same ‘be it done unto me,’ as His mother.”

Fleming called Mary and Jesus the two pillars of Luke’s Gospel because they both say yes to their vocation with resolve and confidence, despite their own fears and despite every reason to say no.

“But between Mary and Jesus in the Gospel is Peter,” he says. “He’s like us. He can be great in one moment and not so great in another moment.”

Fleming says Peter takes a chance on Jesus. “Jesus says the same words to Peter that the angel Gabriel said to Mary: ‘Do not be afraid.’ Jesus is willing to meet Peter where he’s at and walk with him throughout his own ‘yes,’ even though it’s a gradual process with a lot of ups and downs.”

Fleming said that one of the questions he is asked most often is what made him want to become a priest.

“To most people it seems like a huge leap of faith,” he says. “I can point to a few big events that pushed me in that direction and led me toward the priesthood, but I think something that gets left out is that every big ‘yes’ to God is built up by a lot of small, every day ‘yeses.’ The big leap of jumping into the priesthood (and marriage) is narrowed slowly by every small act of wanting to do God’s will.”

Fleming says that if we try to follow Jesus in every moment, in every little act of love, then the big moments won’t seem nearly as momentous or terrifying as they might. He calls this process the work of the Holy Spirit. “The Holy Spirit is how we see someone like Peter go from being barely willing to cast his net one more time to eventually being willing to be crucified upside down.”

Fleming says we must pray that God works on us the same way.

“He worked on Peter,” he says. “We need to pray that more young people are open to this process of being elevated through their vocation. Just as Peter was elevated from a fisherman to a fisher of men. Just as Jesus elevates simple bread and wine into his body and blood. Let’s pray that our young people hear Jesus call them out into deep water and in the face of fear or difficulties or any kind of evil, let’s pray that all of us have the courage to say, like Joan of Arc, ‘I am not afraid. I was born to do this.’”

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