Mr Karl Romkema Jr, CSC

Seminarian Karl Romkema reflects on the value of the Come and See Weekend in his discernment:

Growing up I wasn’t certain I wanted to be a priest (who is?), but I knew I was being called. This call was not unswerving, however. I think I can speak for most discerning men when I say my vocation fluctuated from season to season, even from day to day! At times, the idea of living my life as a priest seemed very real; other times it seemed so far outside of my comfort zone.

All my life I kept this vocation and discernment a secret (except from my parents). There was a definite time early in high school that I realized that this call was no phantom. It became very clear and concrete. I wanted to be something courageous and heroic, and I knew I had to enter the seminary. But even then, I still kept these thoughts very much to myself.

There were a number of reasons for this. For one, I was scared; scared of what people might think. I was relatively well-liked in high school, and I didn’t want to lose this, I didn’t want to turn my friends off. Basically, I wanted to be a “normal” kid (at least for a little while longer). Also, I had never met another guy who had a vocation. I thought I was the only one. Although I remained deeply convicted of my vocation, I did not tell my teachers or even my best friends – this was my most precious secret.

When senior year came around, I was still dragging my feet and I was no closer to knowing what I wanted to do after high school. It wasn’t until early November of this same year that I heard about the Old College program through a friend. After researching the program, it seemed so attractive to me that I knew I had to apply. I was invited to the Come and See Weekend just to check it out, and a week and a half after I discovered Old College, I drove to Notre Dame. What happened this weekend changed everything.

Not only did I learn a lot about the program, I fell in love with it. But that wasn’t the most important part. When I was visiting, I met other men who were discerning the priesthood – the first I had ever met. What’s more, these men were real. They were authentic, “normal”, funny, happy – a lot like me.

What the men at Old College and the Come and See Weekend gave me was courage. It gave me confidence that I was ready to enter the seminary right out of high school (something I wasn’t too sure about). It also gave me courage to begin telling people about my vocation, and when I did, I received nothing but the most positive and joyous support. I was amazed. Friends, teachers, parents, women at the parish, even “non-religious” people supported me and were proud of me. This made all the difference in the world.

Today I am proud and happy to be a seminarian for Holy Cross, and it all resulted from the Come and See Weekend.