Prepared for doubters

First slide

For years, Deacon Scott Sina saw himself as a typical corporate attorney and essentially was agnostic. He'd planned to get married and have a long career in law.

Two things changed all that: faith and joy.

"Faith gives real meaning to your life," said Deacon Sina. "You can see the value of everything, but with everything in its proper place. I realized that God has a plan for me, and following God's plan would make me happy, more joyful."

Deacon Sina, who will be ordained a priest by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde June 7 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, hopes to use his intimate knowledge of doubt to aid others on their road to Christ.

Born Oct. 30, 1973, in Williamsville, N.Y., Deacon Sina is the youngest of three children of Diane and Richard Sina. His family attended Mass and he went to religious education, but he saw being Catholic as "mostly just being a nice person."

He attended public schools, graduating from Williamsville South High School, and earned a bachelor's degree in political philosophy in 1995 from Washington and Lee University in Lexington.

He earned a master's from University College London in 1996, and then added a law degree from Washington and Lee Law School in 2000.

In 2003, he took a job with a Virginia Beach law firm, and his life gradually began to change. Through work he met a permanent deacon who made an impression on him, and he started going to Mass and reading the Bible.

When he accepted a position in Northern Virginia and joined St. Rita Church in Alexandria, Deacon Sina said it was the first time he'd seen priests on fire with the faith and who had the ability to articulate the power of the sacraments and prayer.

As he absorbed the priests' words, it gave him "the first fleeting thought about what it would be like to be a priest," he said.

The decision to enter Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., in the fall of 2008 after eight years of practicing law was not without doubts. "It was more like I had enough interest to explore if I was called," he said. "I was not super sure, but year by year that certainty was building."

That certainty continued to grow, and last year he was ordained a transitional deacon and assigned to St. John the Beloved Church in McLean. All the priests at the parish - Fathers Christopher J. Pollard, Gregory S. Thompson, Franklyn M. McAfee and Phillip M. Cozzi - have been helpful teachers and guides.

"And I've been just overwhelmed by the faith of the parishioners there," he said, adding that ministering as a deacon is humbling.

"People do share with you very intimate concerns or problems, and they come to you looking for spiritual guidance," he said.

Deacon Sina said he's been impressed by priests who've told him: "As a priest, you can't have a bad day. If someone comes to you in a confessional and needs your time, one bad interaction can scar someone for life."

But the opposite is also true, he said. "Just being able to talk to a priest or experience a beautiful Mass or hear a powerful homily can totally change a life."

The 40-year-old Deacon Sina said he wants to change lives by drawing upon his own experience of doubt and apathy. Having been on both sides of the faith spectrum he hopes will allow him to bring sympathy to those without faith and to "explain faith in a way that they can understand," he said. "I'm looking forward to people who genuinely challenge me - who have doubts - who were agnostic and think that faith does not have anything to teach them," he said. "Hopefully, I am able to open their eyes and give them a relationship with Christ."

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014