One of the difficult times in seminary living was when people you truly admired decided to leave.When Bill Meade left just before taking his vows I was somewhat surprised and shaken. Bill was not only brilliant but he had a generosity of spirit that made you realize what a good person he was. He was in my opinion the poster man for the Priesthood.For a couple of days after he left I began a period of introspection regarding why he left and why I should stay. Doubts started to creep in and when my good friend and classmate Mike Keating also decided that this was not for him I was beside myself. If these good men who certainly were far more religious than I found that this was not the path for them maybe I should bail out now.
The doubts continued to hold serve and at one point I came very close to packing my bags. Reflection caused me to resist the impulse and after considerable days of meditation and weighing all the pros and cons I decided to confide my situation to my spiritual director. For probably an hour I ran through chapter and verse specifically stating all the reasons why I should be on the first bus bound for Jersey City. There was in my opinion a life beyond the seminary grounds that would more fully meet my needs and desires. I began to seriously consider the roles of husband and perhaps Father to a few rather than a Father for many.
I went on and on at times rambling but always getting back to the same issue.I had almost convinced myself that this whole priest thing was a mistake and though I have enjoyed the company and the caring it was the moment to move on.After my complete emotional catharsis my spiritual advisor stated that there has never been anyone on the route to the Priesthood that has not had similar doubts. He personalized his words by stating that there were moments before his ordination when he was absolutely convinced that it was time to throw in the towel. He ended with what appeared to be his knockout argument by telling me that even Camillis DeLillis had serious doubts.I had not heard the name before and surmised that he was an upperclassman or someone who had survived the seminary and now was serving in a parish. My initial impulse was to ask if I could speak to Camillis even though I knew that he was probably not a city kid. No one in Jersey City would ever hang that name on a kid because he would have more fights than Mohammed Ali.Good thing I did not inquire further. It appears that Camillis was a sixteenth century Italian saint. Somehow the impact of his doubts did little to make my path any easier.