In 2006, at the age of 11, I moved with my parents from a suburb of Chicago, Illinois to a farm in Glen Rose, Texas. We attended services at First United Methodist of Glen Rose as we had been part of a Methodist community in Illinois. My mother was raised Catholic, but fell away from the Church, and my father came from a Baptist background. For my parents, Methodist communities provided a place to attend services which appeared to have a mixture of protestant and Catholic aesthetics.
We loved living in Glen Rose; however, I began to realize a certain culture and ethic that seemed to be different in Texas than it was in Illinois. Later, I came to realize that I was missing the influence of Catholicism in the larger culture that was so present in Chicago. I think that it was in my search for what was lacking that God led me to seek baptism in eighth grade. After a few months of preparation, I was baptized by my Methodist preacher and set out on a life of attending services on Sunday and reading the Bible in an attempt to be a good Christian.
This plan didn’t last long. Just a few months after my baptism, I went back to Illinois to visit family. While in town, I wanted to go to church on Sunday, so I attended the first Mass I can really remember, and I never forgot it. Silence and the pleasant scent of wax in the small chapel of Our Lady of La Salette struck me first as a notable difference from First United Methodist in Glen Rose. There was no one mingling about in idle chatter, and many sat or knelt, piously praying. Beyond these outward signs of a holy place was a deeper feeling of the presence of God like I had never experienced before. The priests at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette prayed the mass attentively and reverently. Although I did not understand or know what made such a significant difference, I did not forget it.
When I returned home, the Methodist services I attended were lacking and unsatisfying. Since I had received a laptop as a gift from my family after graduating eighth grade, I used the internet to research any questions I had regarding Catholicism, and I watched EWTN on a consistent basis. Every explanation of Catholic teaching made sense to me, and I slowly began to integrate Catholic prayers such as the Rosary into my daily life.
About a year after my initial experience of the Church at Mass, I joined the confirmation class at St. Frances Cabrini Parish. Almost immediately, the parish and youth group became major parts of my life. I entered into full communion with holy mother the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2011. My involvement with St. Frances Cabrini and other diocesan activities became the main focus of my time, and the parish of St. Frances became like a second family to me.
Unfortunately, my parents divorced during this time; however they continued to support me wholeheartedly. I began to consider careers connected to Church activities or even studying theology in college. More than these inclinations, I was drawn to the celebration of holy Mass, and I desired to bring the sacraments to people and people to the sacraments. After a few fellow parishioners of St. Frances Cabrini asked me to consider a vocation to the priesthood, and I had done some research and prayer, I decided to contact the diocesan vocations director. In the course of a few months of preliminary discernment, I realized that my desire to bring the sacraments to people was really a clue as to my calling.
No one who enters seminary knows if they are called to priesthood or if they will instead leave as a well formed layman. The initial step of making application comes only as a leap of faith. I made that leap in the second semester of my senior year of high school, and I have never regretted it. Many experiences over my few years of formation have presented challenges, but those times were never without joy, and my desire to bring the sacraments to the people as only a priest can has increased tremendously. My parents, extended family, and parish family supported me from the beginning of this journey. I cannot give thanks enough for the immense blessing my supporters are in my life, and in my vocational discernment.
My name is Nick Nappier and I have been a seminarian at Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving for two years. I have been part of St. Frances Cabrini Parish for eight years now.
My vocation to the priesthood came from a desire to serve those most in need. Having a devotion to the Divine Mercy, the Chaplet has been an efficacious way of reminding myself of the need to bring the person of Jesus Christ to everyone in society, in order that all may know the beautiful gifts that he wishes to bestow on us if we would only come to him.