Searby Ran away from the Circus to Join the Priesthood

"I thank God for allowing me to enter into the gift and mystery of the priesthood for the people of Arlington, so we can journey to holiness together," said Deacon James Searby, who is eagerly awaiting his June 11 ordination. Searby was born in New York City, N.Y., on June 21, 1972, to Robert and Donna Searby. He is the oldest of seven children. He attended Bishop O?Connell High School in Arlington for three years but graduated from North Ridge Prep School in Chicago. He earned his bachelor?s degree in history from the University of Dallas in 1995. After college, he worked in marketing and public relations for many different organizations, including a year with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus. While based in New York, he toured the Northeast with the circus. He lived on the road for that year and found it "exciting, sensational and interesting," but it was during this time that he heard the call. While Searby had many good jobs, he never felt truly fulfilled. After going to confession in Portland, Maine, the confessor asked if he?d ever considered becoming a priest. That started his path to discernment. It was like someone had turned a light on in his world, he said. "Everything made sense in that light." After a year of prayer, he enrolled at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. During his four years there, he had pastoral assignments during the summers, from working with a high school, to a home for the elderly, to parish work. He was ordained a deacon on June 5, 2004. Searby has heard stories of families who are not so supportive of the priestly vocation, but throughout the discernment process, Searby?s family has encouraged him. "I have parents who love each other and teach me how to love," he said, adding that his parents, members of St. John Parish in McLean, taught him and his siblings that both vocations ? to marriage and to religious life ? are equally acceptable. "They encouraged me to listen to the call of God in my life." Searby is looking forward to many aspects of becoming a priest, especially celebrating the Mass and bringing God?s mercy to people through confession. He compares himself to the apostles who were told to "put out into the deep" and who must have questioned whether they would make it. "It?s a great challenge and great adventure, and we pray we can live up to it," he said. Searby feels he has a natural talent for explaining the faith to people. "I have an enthusiasm for living, truth and faith, and I thank Him for it," Searby said.

Copyright ?2005 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2005