Harmony in science and faith

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When Deacon Rich Miserendino headed to the University of Rochester in New York to study physics and music, he said he didn't realize he "was looking for God." Through math and campus faith exploration, he said he "encountered faith through divine providence." Yet, what he described as a "convoluted vocation" didn't involve immediately applying to the seminary.

"I was stubborn," Deacon Miserendino said. "I went to Protestant worship (on campus) because I was attracted to the girls, but it was ravenously anti-Catholic. I was conflicted. (As a physics student), I also asked, where does science fit into all of this? What do I believe?"

Deacon Miserendino, who grew up attending the Church of the Nativity in Burke, eventually found his way to the Neumann Center on campus. It was during a retreat to the Abbey of the Genesee in Piffard, N.Y., that he stumbled across a bookstore in what proved to be a "watershed moment."

Deacon Miserendino said, "I found a book by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. I probably couldn't name a theologian at the time. But (his writings) made God real; they taught me the depth of things - truth, love. It was the first time (I saw that) God was not just feelings but something to be encountered."

From there, Deacon Miserendino began going to daily Mass and weekly confession. He said he began to consider the priesthood.

"It was terrifying," he said. "I wanted a family. I wanted to become a successful scientist. I was overcome with worry that this was the end of my life."

Following graduation, Deacon Miserendino worked at Science Applications International Corporation, a defense contractor, for two years as "a great pusher-around of electrons," he joked.

"(As a Catholic who studied physics), the way I look at the universe is that it is a symphony. There is harmony and there is order, and the overarching theme is faith," he said. "Science is not a contradiction of faith."

But science was not the career path for him.

Deacon Miserendino, studied at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa., for two years and has studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome for the past four.

"Studying in Rome has presented innumerable blessings," he said. "The pope is our neighbor … and here we see the real human face of the church, the people. The news media sometimes portrays the church as a bureaucracy, but these are people who want to serve God."

Miserendino said he is looking forward to priestly ministry.

"The core of (the priesthood) is bringing God to people, people to God," he said.

Stoddard can be reached at cstoddard@catholicherald.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015