Quick Interview With Anthony, Seminarian

I mentioned in a previous blog post about the reality of a small handful of my Catholic friends have gone and pursued religious vocations and Catholic priesthood.  Each of them have their own unique discernment journeys.  I thought it would be cool to ask some quick questions of one of the new seminarians I hinted at in that previous blog post.

Anthony Vecchio graduated from high school last year and spent this past year at community college while furthering his discernment towards diocesan priesthood.  Last year, my parish started hosting “Discernment Nights” whereby interested individuals could come and listen to consecrated or ordained members of the Church talk about their vocation story, and this also provided opportunities for interested participants to ask questions.  I met Anthony via one of our Discernment Nights, even though he’s not from my own parish.  I later found out that he kept a Catholic blog around the same time I started really getting into my own blog.

His blog is Purely Catholic.  And I like reading his posts because he offers an often thorough examination of reflections, Church teachings, and commentary on various things.  I learn from his own knowledge and reflections, and it boggles my mind because most freshly graduated guys don’t utter theology from the lips of their fingers to the level that Anthony conveys in his blog.  Check it out!

And so, again, I thought it would be cool to ask Anthony some quick questions and catch him before he moves to Holy Trinity Seminary.

First of all, since I know we both share appreciation in band nerdery, who is your favorite drum corps and why? And what was your most favorite high school marching band performance (whether your own or another band’s)?

My favorite drum corps is hands down Carolina Crown. Their brass sound is impeccably beautiful and massive, and their shows are very quirky and nuanced. Like a bunch of Godzillas performing Swan Lake as they dance around the skyscrapers of downtown Tokyo. Yeah. As for my favorite high school marching band performance… I would say Richland’s BOA San Antonio performance from this year. I am utterly amazed at the progress that they have been making with so many director changes. I’m very proud of them!

I’ve always wondered…why is your blog called “Purely Catholic”? What is the significance/motivation for it?

I’m pretty sure my blog title is “Purely Catholic” because that’s the only semi-profound sounding thing that wasn’t already taken. In retrospect, I could’ve done something snazzy like “Anthony’s super-dee-duper, awesome, and totally readable blog”, but I think that would confuse people. Because, legitimately, I read some of my old stuff sometimes and I have no idea what I’m saying. Said. Whatever. In short, just like Albert Camus’ great meaning of life, there is no significance or motivation. It is absurd.

Are you active in any ministry or ministries?  What are they and why do you participate in them?

For a while (a year or so), I was an extraordinary minister at Good Shepherd. That was a wonderful experience. But the bulk of my donated time is eclectic in nature. I just do whatever people tell me to do, and try not to explode everything in the process. Some speaking events, some shoulder-rubbing events, some praying events, etc. It’s fulfilling.

Just out of curiosity, who is your Confirmation saint and why did you choose that saint? Any other personal favorites?

My Confirmation saint is St. Anthony. Which is, (I bet you can’t guess!) my Baptismal saint. I got very riled up in the process of selecting a Confirmation saint, but I discerned that God was calling me back to the basics. He does that a lot, because I’m mostly insane. As far as personal favorites go: St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Maximus [the] Confessor and St. Therese of Lisieux.

Most guys don’t graduate from high school wanting to join a religious order or enter seminary to become a priest.  What sparked your interest in pursuing such a vocation?

In Mother Church, God chooses you! But as far as particulars go, I was most moved by USCCB’s “Fisher’s of Men” documentary. That moved me deeply–and really it was just a continuation of my sudden realization that I am called to be a saint (lower case “s”). God commands, not suggests but commands, us to love him and others as He has loved us. The most human response is “how is that? How will I take up my own cross?” When we see something profound, our hearts are moved ever so slightly, and we notice it every so slightly. But such a small movement can create a domino effect if the conditions are right, and following the trail of dominoes is like finding out what your vocation is.

What does your daily prayer life look like?

My daily prayer life, like my volunteer time, is very eclectic. Some days I read from my St. Alphonsus de Liguori collection (also a favorite saint) or my St. Therese of Lisieux collection, some days I meditate on Christ’s life, or what is means for Christ to have lived the way he did, or who Christ was, and what that has to do with the Church, and why the Church is his Body, etc. Some days I just read straight up from sacred Scriptures, and some days I just stare in silence at the crucifix on my wall. In all my prayer and studies and musings, I’ve learned one thing: God is love. Such a statement is inexhaustible in expression, but those expressions nevertheless revolve around the axis of God who is love.

How often do you attend Daily Mass, Confession, and Adoration (if at all)?

I unfortunately do not own a vehicle, and I typically cannot use my parents’ except on Saturday, so transportation is a hard thing for me. It is once in a blue moon that I go to Mass outside of the times my family goes. I go to Adoration at the very least once a month when I go to Confession. I sometimes am able to go more than once.

Since we know you’re purely Catholic and entering seminary soon, what does “putting your faith into action” mean to you?

“Putting your faith into action” means nothing more or less than to love one another. Such a statement is simple, yet elegant. That is the commandment that Jesus gave his disciples at the Last Supper: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another (Jn 13:34). We should love one another for the reason that we have been first loved by God into existence, and are being held there by that same love. True freedom consists of the ability to give oneself away in total self-donation at will, and this is the freedom that is so sought after by myself and all people. It is not a freedom stemming from isolation from other people, or a freedom stemming from human power, but a freedom enthroned in love; a love with a gravity so magnificent that it pulls people of all races, ages, places, and pasts into a single Church; a gravity that splits the veil of time and crushes death under its heels; where the life that Christ gave up is received by us, and we are made as if new. This faith in action is a powerful thing. If it is lived out as it ought to, it truly sets people and the world “en fuego”. It demands the entire self, it is relentless, and unfettered. It is the fulfillment and calling of every person, and it demands every person–just as it deems every person willed, loved, and necessary. Faith in action is to love one another, even as Christ has loved you–that is, totally, fully, and really.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. (Gal 2:20)

IC XC NIKA

Anthony Vecchio

I ask for your prayers on behalf of Anthony for his continual discernment towards diocesan priesthood.

St. John Vianney, patron saint of priests, ora pro nobis!
– JD