A peaceful thought that never left

First slide

A call to the priesthood can be a frightening thought. For Deacon Nicholas Barnes, who will be ordained to the priesthood June 8 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington, it was quite the opposite.

"(Becoming a priest) was a very peaceful thought that just came to me and never really left," Barnes said.

Barnes was born Aug. 26, 1985, and grew up in Denver. After moving to Virginia halfway through high school, he attended Paul VI Catholic High School in Fairfax, and it was there that he first became dedicated to his faith. After graduating in 2003, Barnes attended the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where he majored in history and economics. While in college, he began thinking about his vocation.

"I began to think about it and discern and pray about it," he said.

When it was time to graduate, Barnes already had a consulting job lined up in Washington. After signing the contract, he realized he was being called to the seminary, so he talked to the person who had hired him.

"I didn't know what his faith background was, but I went in and told him and his reaction was, 'God bless you,' and he gave me a hug," Barnes said.

The man told Barnes that he had looked at his resume again before the meeting and had an impression he should become a priest. Then he asked to be invited to Barnes' ordination Mass.

"That was definitely a confirming moment," Barnes said.

In 2007, Barnes entered St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. After two years, Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde asked him to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he's been for the past four years.

During the last four years, Barnes said he's felt rewarded knowing that he is on the path God planned for him. He also has loved studying in Rome - especially being able to witness the historic events surrounding Pope Benedict XVI's resignation and Pope Francis' election earlier this year.

"I felt really blessed to be here," Barnes said. "I've had a lot of blessings in the seminary. Watching the pope get elected was one of the most exciting nights of my life."

The most challenging part of his time in seminary has been remaining patient and taking things one step at a time until he can become a priest. During his year as a transitional deacon, he has been working with students in Rome as part of the study abroad program for St. Mary College in South Bend, Ind. His job included organizing campus ministry events, Masses, catechetical nights and excursions in and around Rome.

As he counts down the days until he becomes a priest, Barnes most looks forward to working in a parish.

"(I'm excited) just to help bring people closer to God, to share the love that God has with me and with everyone else and to celebrate the sacraments," he said.

For other men discerning a call to the priesthood, Barnes suggests that they have the courage to follow God's will for their lives.

"Pursuing this has been really rewarding for me and I'm very excited to be a priest," he said. "(Don't) be afraid of what God has in store because He definitely has a plan and His plan is way better than anything we could come up with."

Bahr can be reached on Twitter@KBahrACH.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013