Father Matt Williams Pilot photo/George Martell, The Catholic Foundation
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Parish/assignment: Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults. Place of birth: Boston, Mass. How many brothers and sisters do you have?: One sister. High school: Xaverian Brothers High School. College/ university/ seminary: Undergraduate - Stonehill College. Seminary (Theology) - St. John’s Seminary. Date of ordination: May 24, 2003.
What assignments have you had since ordination?
St. Mary’s in Dedham
Office for the New Evangelization of Youth and Young Adults
What have been some of the greatest joys for you as a priest?
Celebrating the weekly Life Teen Mass for the teens of St. Mary’s, Dedham. The 2008 Boston Eucharistic Congress, and seeing all of the young people that came. Concelebrating Mass with the Holy Father in Yankee Stadium. World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany. Being privileged to meet and serve so many wonderful, faith-filled people.
Who influenced your vocation most to consider the priesthood?
Our Lady (pilgrimage to Medugorje), my parents, Pope John Paul II, and some dear priest friends: Father George Gardiner, C.SS.R., & Father Tom DiLorenzo.
What events or practices in your life helped you to discover and discern your call to the priesthood?
Retreats, daily Mass, rosary, the breviary, Divine Mercy, World Youth Day, being in the presence of dynamic, Spirit-filled, happy priests.
What is one of your favorite Scripture passages and why?
“Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). This Scripture passage was instrumental in helping me to experience the love of the Heavenly Father. We, who strive to love the Lord as best as we can, cannot even begin to fathom what he has prepared for us, his children, for all eternity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world!
What are some of your hobbies?
I enjoy traveling, spending time with friends and family, sports (both watching and playing). I love to eat, especially my mom’s Italian cooking!
What advice would you give to a young man who is considering the priesthood?
It is a great life! To quote my newest hero, Pope Benedict XVI: “Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and he gives you everything. When we give ourselves to him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ -- and you will find true life.” Amen! Alleluia!
What are some of your favorite books/ spiritual reading/ magazines?
Sacred Scripture, “Gift and Mystery” by Pope John Paul II, “The Lord of the Rings” by Tolkien.
Through the cardinal, God is calling each of us personally to help rebuild his Church. How must the priest respond to this mandate today?
When Jesus called the apostles, he called them to himself first (Mark 3:14), and then he commissioned them to preach, etc. My personal belief is that in being with the Lord through our prayer lives, we must beg him for vision for our ministries: “For if the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor” (Psalms 127). I believe that God wants to do great things through our priestly ministry, but we must rely on his vision and implore the power of the Holy Spirit to inspire the work of our hands.
When Cardinal Seán came to Boston, he wrote a pastoral letter entitled: “Vocations: Everybody’s Business.” What are some ways that we can help all individuals and families understand their role in promoting and supporting vocations?
Pray. Pray. Pray, for vocations. Plant the seeds in the hearts of our young people now. Invite them to consider that the Lord may be calling them. We cannot underestimate the powerful role of families, especially parents, who are the first bearers of the Good News to their children.