Laws prepares to become priest at St. Mary’s Seminary

Wake up at 6:15 to pray the Gospel of the day for a half an hour before heading down to breakfast. Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours is at 8:00. Class at 8:30.

Seminarian Josh Laws, a former JC religion teacher, follows this schedule each day at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, the place that has become his home since he first began studying there in August 2009. Before St. Mary’s, Laws worked as a seminarian at St. Gregory the Great Church in West Baltimore.

While at St. Gregory’s, Laws organized and led a peace rally, gave several reflections at Mass, wrote weekly reflections for the bulletin, visited men in the Baltimore City Jail, and worked to expand the relationship between the parish and the nearby community. “The parish was a real blessing for me in their warm welcome and their vibrant worship,” said Laws. “It was the perfect way for me to be introduced to what life is going to be like as a seminarian and as a priest.”

Laws is taking five classes at the seminary this semester: Metaphysics, Philosophy of God, Part III of the Catechism (Moral Theology), Doctrine of God, and Modern-Contemporary Church History. Each class meets twice a week for an hour and fifteen minutes. Between morning and afternoon classes, Laws attends Mass, followed by lunch with his community.

Classes end around 4:15, and at 5:15, the community gathers together again for Evening Prayer and dinner. On Wednesdays, Laws and his classmates go to their apostolate, or place of ministry. This year, Laws goes to the City Juvenile Detention Center to talk and play board games with the young men there.

The community Laws is a part of includes of about 70 other seminarians and 12 full time priests. “We are always together,” said Laws. “We eat together, pray together, [and] go to school together.” Although this change was strange at first, Laws enjoys being surrounded by his community. “We all get to know each other really well and appreciate who we are, and the many things that we bring to the table,” said Laws.

However, the biggest change Laws has experienced in seminary is his tight schedule. Laws now spends his free time doing schoolwork, coaching rugby at Loyola University, going to meetings, giving vocation talks or reflections at different schools and parishes, or getting together with friends.

 “One of the words of advice I received came from a priest friend of mine,” said Laws. “He said, ‘When you become a priest, your time is no longer yours.’ And I am finding that to be very true.”

Although Laws doesn’t regret joining the seminary, he does admit that there are certain days when he misses teaching, the community at JC, his free time, and the luxury of having his own house, among other things. “There are also days when I think about how nice it would be to be married and have a family,” said Laws.

“I am finding a lot of joy, clarity, gratitude, and confirmations in my prayers, conversations, evaluations, and experiences as a seminarian,” said Laws. “I am also inspired by the other men who have chosen this vocation. I am inspired by the other guys here at the seminary, our dedicated priests and lay teachers on the faculty here, and the wealth of dedicated men who serve as priests in the Archdiocese.”

This summer, Laws is going to take courses and train in spirituality at the Institute of Priestly Formation at Creighton University in Nebraska. He will return to St. Mary’s for more classes in theology, and in the summer of 2015, Laws will be ordained a priest.

Until then, Laws will continue with his vocation, learning about and serving the Lord. “Through my experiences so far, both here and in parishes, I have grown in my appreciation of the Church and its vastness” said Laws. “I am learning how big the Church is, and how many different outlooks and ways of believing in and praising God there are – each having its own place and importance in the Church.”

Nicky Hatzidimitriou can be reached for comment at [email protected]