Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Vocational Journey: Peter Heasley

By Peter Heasley, Transitional Deacon, Archdiocese of New York

When I tell visitors in Rome that I was an architect before entering the seminary, their response is usually, “You must be so happy to be surrounded by all these beautiful churches!” I agree, and what amazes them, and me still, is that such a simple need for space has been met by the most transcendent beauty.

Similarly, I hope my priesthood makes me a beautiful temple of God’s grace for the people of the Archdiocese of New York, so that my life can be a channel of his gifts of faith, hope and love.

After ordination, I see myself, most of all, being there for people. A good father knows what his children need when he is there for them. Likewise, children know they can trust their father if he is around to listen. I hope my presence in the parish draws sheep to the Good Shepherd.

If I am there I can sense what God wants to speak to parishioners, what they may need to hear from me. Presence informs preaching. Being there means time in the confessional, so that each swing of its door opens a heart to Jesus’ mercy. Being there means that without having to be a psychologist or a social worker, I get to see God’s graces transform and lift human lives in ways one cannot predict.

Before entering seminary, I practiced architecture in Manhattan. Architecture is more than erecting buildings. It involves creating a space where human persons can interact. It creates space for being there.

The day I told my mother I was to enter the seminary, she was not happy. But that night, she had a dream in which she saw an immense cathedral all under scaffolding. My hope is that through the priesthood I can construct such an imaginary cathedral, a space where humans can encounter the Divine– Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – who await them.

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