Tonight we welcome Bexley’s own, Tom Gardner! Tom graduated from OSU in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Technology Education and has been at the PCJ for three years now where he has completed a two-year Pre-Theology program and is now in his first year of Theology studies. Tom joins us tonight to share a little about his journey to the priesthood.
Please welcome Tom Gardner!
Hey everyone, good to be on for the Chat tonight!
Question #1 – Tom, you shared with me earlier that you had people telling you way back in Sunday school that they thought you’d become a priest, but you didn’t discern until you were in college. Can you tell us a little about that journey and what factor may have led you to joining the Seminary?
Sure! It was definitely an exciting journey for me to get to the seminary. Although I can remember a couple of people (like my 8th grade CCD teacher, Matt Palmer) mentioning the priesthood to me, I wasn’t at a place in my relationship with God at that time to be able to make the decision to enter seminary. In middle and high school, I was more concerned with planning out my life for myself, without really asking what God wanted for my life.
Question #2- You are the second oldest of five kids. How has your family been able to support you throughout your journey?
My family had always been a great support in the journey. My parents are constantly telling me how proud they are of me. I know that they are praying for me every day.
My siblings are very much on board as well. We are very close, especially me and my brother, Billy. They have also been great about praying for me and encouraging me along the way. This is my shout out to Billy Gardner, Julie Gardner, Laura Gardner and Amy!
Question #3 – You have a Bachelors degree in Technology Education. In what ways do you plan (if any) on using this in the future?
Well, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, is all about using the new communication technologies to help people encounter Christ in our world today. So you better believe I’ll be using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and anything else I can to reach out to others God-willing one day as a priest. I think technology has a great potential for helping to reach out to those who otherwise may have never heard the Gospel.
We whole heartedly agree here at Face Forward! We LOVE using Social Media to spread the Good News!
Question #4 – You were heavily involved in the St. Paul’s Outreach group at Ohio State. What were the benefits you gained from being involved with this group?
Too many to count. First and foremost my relationship with God was deepened a lot. By seeing the men I was living with going to mass, confession and adoration on a regular basis, I was encouraged to do the same myself. And this brought me in contact with God in a deeper way then ever before. The good foundation of my faith laid by my parents through their teaching me to pray and love God was deepened and strengthened
You told me earlier that you guys got up four mornings a week and prayed together to start the day and you also ate dinner together three nights a week. That sounds like a wonderful “family” to have.
Indeed. We called each other “brother” for good reason. They really are my brothers in Christ. Many of those men are still doing great things in Columbus: leading youth groups, being DREs, raising families, etc. Praise God!
Question #5 – What would you say to someone who was quietly discerning a life in the priesthood but wasn’t sure what to do to explore the idea?
I would encourage him to not be afraid, for one thing. This was the constant message of Blessed Pope John Paul the Great. The Lord’s plan for his life is one of deep fulfillment and happiness! This has definitely been the case for me. I can honestly say that being in the seminary has been the most fulfilling time in my life.
Practically speaking, I would encourage him to send an email to Father Noble, our Vocation Director. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He could also call the Vocations Office at (614) 221-5565. Again, don’t be afraid! Calling Fr. Noble to ask about the priesthood isn’t going to put you on some “vocation watch-list.” Fr. Noble is a great guy to help you discern what God’s call is for you, whatever that might be. So, for those thinking about the priesthood, don’t be afraid to talk to a priest or a trusted friend who is serious about his or her faith: these are the people who want to help you to answer God’s call!
Great ideas! We are also having another “Coffee and Conversation” with Fr. Noble on April 23rd at Crimson Cup. This is a very relaxed and casual atmosphere to ask any questions of Fr. as well as some of the Seminarians that will be in attendance.
Finally, I would encourage high school seniors to come on a live-in weekend at the Josephinum. This is a great time to hang out with seminarians in their own environment and get a small taste of what seminary life is like. These typically happen in the fall. Stay posted to Face Forward for more info on that next Fall!
As some of our Face Forward members may have seen, you at one time were able to eat a cupcake in one bite. Can you still do it and would you be willing to let us capture it on film again? It makes for great viewing, except if you’ve given up sweets for Lent. ☺
That wouldn’t be any fun! We would definitely have to up the ante. I would say let’s see if I can down TWO cupcakes in under a minute! But we would have to wait until Easter…
In case some of you missed it, here is Tom Gardner! Cupcake Challenge
Tom, it’s been great chatting with you tonight! We look forward to watching you try the 2 cupcakes, after Lent of course. We will all be praying for you as you continue on your journey towards the Priesthood. Thank you!
Thank you guys for having me on! Have a blessed Lent and a glorious Easter!