jficara

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Name: 
Jonathan Ficara
Type of Vocation: 
Priest
Which Seminary are you attending?: 
Pontifical North American College
Anticipated Year of Ordination?: 
2014
What Year are you in of your studies?: 
4th Theology

About Jonathan

What was your career or background before entering the seminary?: 
I attended the University of Connecticut where I received a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice.
What were major Catholic activities you participated in prior to attending the seminary?: 
Prior to attending seminary, I participated in a variety of different discernment retreats and dinners that were sponsored by Father Greg Galvin and the Diocese. These events were very enjoyable and definitely helped confirm my path toward the priesthood.
What are your favorite hobbies?: 
I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I play a variety of different sports (baseball, basketball and football in particular). I’m an avid New York Mets, New York Giants and UCONN Huskies fan. I also love to read, cook, and listen to music.
When did you first think that God was calling you to be a priest?: 
It was during Lent 2002 that I first thought of becoming a priest. I was a junior in high school and sixteen years old. Up until that point, I was slowly developing a deeper appreciation of our Catholic Faith. I was attending Mass more frequently and participating in different activities within the parish. I remember feeling a sense of possession with my Faith – that it was now mine (not my parents), and a definitive choice on my part to believe. This decision, an undeniable testament of God’s mercy and grace, was solidified when I was confirmed in March of that year. Filled with the Holy Spirit, I approached Holy Week with a more profound love for Christ. As I contemplated the Lord’s Passion and death, I was completely enveloped by the thought that Jesus would sacrifice His entire self for me. On Good Friday, as I sat and prayed in the Church, I yearned to give my entire self back to Him. At that moment, the thought of the priesthood truly entered into my heart.
Who influenced/inspired you to consider diocesan priesthood?: 
The late Pope John Paul the Great has had a profound influence on my vocation. His incredible witness of faith and love made a lasting impression on me. He challenged the youth to consider “The Call” and I felt compelled to respond. My pastor has also inspired me to consider the priesthood – not only through his care and spiritual direction, but also through his priestly example. His kindness and sincerity, along with his wisdom and love of the Church, motivated me to faithfully pursue my vocation to the diocesan priesthood.
Please describe the importance of prayer in your life: 
Prayer is everything! If I want to imitate Christ and follow Him, I must turn to Him often and get to know Him! The rigors of seminary life can sometimes be exhausting. Prayer is the only remedy. Without it, I would be overwhelmed and completely lost. Through prayer, the Lord strengthens and comforts me, while renewing my vocation each and every day.
What would you say to a young man who thinks he may have a priestly vocation?: 
GET A SPIRITUAL DIRECTOR AND START TALKING! If you think that you might be called to the priesthood, it is important to find a priest – one whom you can trust and talk to. When I first considered a vocation, I turned directly to my Pastor. He willingly provided support, answers to the hundreds of questions that I threw at him, and necessary spiritual guidance. RECEIVE THE SACRAMENTS FREQUENTLY. This is a given. Reception of the Sacraments – both the Eucharist and Reconciliation – is of the utmost importance. These deep and personal encounters with Christ will nourish you spiritually as you discern a vocation to the priesthood. STAY CALM…JUST BECAUSE YOU ARE THINKING OF THE PRIESTHOOD…IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO BECOME A PRIEST! My pastor would always tell me this during the early years of my discernment (and he still does). In today’s world, there is a certain expectation to make decisions about our lives and act on them…Fast! Discerning the Lord’s Will takes time. For me, it took a total of six years to actually get to the seminary. Now that I’m here, I am still discerning whether God is calling me to be a priest. So stay calm, open yourself to the Will of our Lord and TRUST him! He will not lead you astray. ADORE OUR LORD IN SILENCE. We live in such a fast-paced and noisy culture. It is very easy to get wrapped up into the technological advances of today. We need to turn off the television, stop the text-messaging, and spend some quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament. These are very special moments where the Lord speaks to our hearts. PRAY HARD AND KEEP IT REAL! The number one sign of any strong and committed relationship is heartfelt communication. Our relationship with the Lord is no different (whether you are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or not). Pray often and stay focused. A good prayer life requires hard work and determination. Be real with the Lord! True intimacy with Him requires a complete outpouring of self. Don’t hold anything back and bring everything to Him– both the good and the bad. SEEK COMFORT IN MARY! Who better to guide us on our journey to Christ than our Blessed Mother? With love and compassion, she willingly leads us directly to Her Son. Entrust yourself completely to Her and faithfully pray for Her intercession. ATTEND AN ORDINATION. Witnessing the heroic “Yes” of a man as he humbly and willingly lays down his life to serve the Church as one of Her priests is indescribable. I still get chills every time I reflect on the ordination Masses I’ve attended. It is definitely an experience that you will never forget. REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Even if you feel that you are…remember that the Lord is with you always! You may face persecution and rejection. It is difficult for many to grasp the thought of a young man considering a vocation to the priesthood. The priesthood is counter-cultural. “Do not be Afraid!” as Pope John the Great proclaimed. Seek comfort in Christ and the sacrifice He made for each and every one of us. My pursuit of a priestly vocation was not met without some criticism by those closest to me. However, I have never been happier and more at peace, than I am now – studying for the priesthood. DON’T FORGET…THE LORD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY!
What activities would you recommend in order to help foster a culture of vocations to priesthood or religious life?: 
The best way to help foster a culture of vocations to the priesthood or religious life is to start talking about vocations to the priesthood and religious life! We need to encourage ALL young men and women to at least consider and pray on the possibility that God might be calling them to the priesthood or religious life. The vocations are there…we just need to help bring them to the surface. Turn to prayer! Pray for vocations and also pray for seminarians and our priests!