Deacon Thompson ‘Rocks’ His Way to the Priesthood

As an eighth-grader, Deacon Gregory Thompson was afraid of being called to the priesthood, but he doesn't know why. It was several years more before he realized he did have a call.
"I only seriously began discerning a call to the priesthood after I attended a Mount 2000 retreat at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg," Thompson said. "I had a powerful experience of God's love for me and began to think about how I could serve the Lord better. I remember asking myself the question: what could I do for the Lord? The answer I came up with was: how about being a priest?"
Thompson returned to the university's seminary to pursue this vocation.
He told his parents about his call to the priesthood on the Easter Vigil of 2000.
"I'll never forget when I told them," he said. "My mom wanted to buy vestments right away. I had to calm her down because I knew that I would have to wait for that. My mom and dad have assisted me so much during my formation. I could not have done it without them."
Although his parents live in Pennsylvania, Thompson decided to become a priest for Arlington because, "I had always admired the fervor of the people of the diocese and felt called to serve them in this way," he said. "I thought about how many of the churches in the diocese often were packed with people. I wanted to be in a diocese where there was much enthusiasm for the Faith."
One of the experiences he has enjoyed most during his formation was playing the electric guitar for Mount 2000 and Beyond last year. He had left a rock band before entering the seminary and said he enjoyed playing great music and praising Jesus at the same time.
"It was great to play with Martin Doman and his band to praise the Lord," he said. "I had some fans during the weekend saying 'You Rock!' That is very unusual for a deacon wearing a clerical collar to hear."
Thompson has enjoyed the fraternity among the seminarians as they have discerned on their path to the priesthood together.
"The friendships I made in seminary I will probably have the rest of my life," he said. "One of the greatest experiences of my life was serving as a deacon for a friend's diaconate and priesthood ordination. We got each other through thick and thin studying for the challenging academics of the seminary."
Thompson was inspired and encouraged by many priests during his formation. Bishop Kevin Rhoades, former rector at Mount St. Mary's, was "an example of holiness and virtue." He also enjoyed working with the pastors at his summer assignments, especially Fathers Robert Lange, Daniel Mode and John Kelly.
"Each of them had something to give me to help me grow in holiness in preparation for the priesthood," he said. "I also am very appreciative of Father Philip Majka, the former pastor of St. Patrick in Chancellorsville, who always welcomed me back for breaks and gave me the opportunity to help each year at the Easter Vigil."
Thompson said is looking forward to being a priest for the diocese and he feels that "this is truly what the Lord Jesus wants for me in life.
"I am praying every day that I can be a faithful priest bringing as many souls to Jesus." Mary Frances McCarthy can be contacted at mmccarthy@catholicherald.com.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2006