Mary’s guidance leads to peace in discernment
by Matthew Samson
I was born and raised in Park River, the youngest of seven children to Paul and Colleen Samson. I graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2014 with a B.S. Degree in Business Management. After college, I spent time working in Steubenville and Park River. It was when I was recently living in Steubenville that I seriously started to discern my vocation. My whole story would not fit in this article, so I decided to share one meaningful experience.
When I decided to pursue a vocation, I did not really know how to go about proper discernment. I reached out to people who I thought would be of assistance. One of them was Archbishop Aquila from Denver, having known him well from his time as Fargo’s bishop. I started to correspond with the vocations director in Denver because I was still unsure about how to proceed, and he invited me to a retreat for vocations. I thought that it could not hurt to stay in a seminary for a weekend to see what life there is like. At this point I had a strong feeling that I wanted to be a priest someday.
As I packed my things to go on this retreat, I prayed to the Blessed Mother to help me find a confirmation of what I was feeling in my heart. Having arrived at the seminary, one thing that stuck out to me was how all of the young men there were striving to grow in holiness and to discern the will of God. They had already taken that next step to enter the seminary, and they seemed to be joyful about their decision.
The last night of the retreat, I spent time praying to the Blessed Mother expressing my concerns of not receiving the confirmation I was seeking. Perhaps I missed something that should have stuck out to me. My departing flight was not until Monday afternoon, which left me the following morning and lunch to spend time there with the seminarians. On Monday morning, one of the seminarians suggested I meet with a spiritual director there. This director had a time slot open that morning that, providentially, worked perfectly for me. After our discussion, the spiritual director told me that he would be celebrating Mass that morning and asked if I was going to be around for it. After I told him that I would, he told me to pay close attention to his homily.
Though I was listening intently as ever to his homily, I can’t remember a word he said today because of what happened at the end of it. After his homily he scanned the crowd and called out, “Matt, where’s Matt?” I turned my head around hoping he was talking about another Matt. He saw me and told me to come up front. He came down from the pulpit and put his arm on me. As we faced the chapel full of seminarians he told them, “Matt is discerning a call to the priesthood.” He then asked me, “Matt, do you know how you’re going to find your answers?” I just shrugged, overwhelmed by being called forward in front of the whole seminary. He said, “I’ll show you how,” and led me over to stand in front of the statue of the Blessed Mother. He pointed to her, “Right here, she is the one who will help you.” He then asked everyone in the church to recite a Hail Mary for me as we were standing at the foot of her statue. All I could do was bow my head in front of the statue and accept this great grace that was happening to me. This moment was one of the most moving moments of my life.
After this Mass, I randomly ended up sitting at the same table as a seminarian from the Diocese of Fargo. He asked me why I had not yet contacted Fargo about applying for seminary. I told him I wasn’t sure, so he gave me the number for the Vocation Director in Fargo.
Looking back, I can see now how much this event impacted my journey of discernment. It also increased my faith because just when I began to doubt what I had been praying for would occur, something greater than I imagined was patiently waiting to take place.
Samson is a Pre-Theology I seminarian studying at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md.
Editor’s Note: Seminarian Life is a column written by current Diocese of Fargo seminarians. Please continue to pray for them.