October 30, 2020

2020 Vocations Awareness Supplement

‘God’s guiding hand’: Seminarian sees challenges in life as a preparation for ordained ministry

Seminarian Liam Hosty smiles during an Oct. 9 pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Monte Cassino near St. Meinrad made by seminarians at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. The shrine is on a hill just outside the southern Indiana town. The seminarians prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and for those whose lives have been affected by it. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

Seminarian Liam Hosty smiles during an Oct. 9 pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Monte Cassino near St. Meinrad made by seminarians at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad. The shrine is on a hill just outside the southern Indiana town. The seminarians prayed for an end to the coronavirus pandemic and for those whose lives have been affected by it. (Photo courtesy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey)

By Sean Gallagher

If you spend a little bit of time with seminarian Liam Hosty, you’ll soon see that he is a cheerful, often

happy-go-lucky young man with a winning smile who has an attractive love for Christ and the Church.

You might not know, though, at first glance, that he’s experienced many challenges in his life. When Hosty was 4, he was diagnosed with speech and learning disabilities and had struggles in school. More recently, his last two years of college seminary were marked by the turmoil of the renewed clergy sexual-abuse crisis in the Church and the coronavirus pandemic.

So does Hosty have such a sunny outlook on life and his possible future as an archdiocesan priest in spite of these challenges, or because of them?

Hosty thinks it’s the latter.

“My life has just been marked by a strong sense of divine providence,” he said. “God has been there every step of the way in my journey.”

Hosty is also convinced that the challenges he’s faced so far in life will help him share the mercy and compassion of God with the parishioners he would minister to if he’s ordained a priest.

“My life has been marked by people walking with me on [my] journey,” he said. “I may not necessarily have the solutions to everyone’s problems. But I can sit with them and walk with them through their journeys, in whatever challenges they face.”

‘Part miracle, part hard work’

Hosty, 23, grew up the fourth of the five children of Tom and Julie Hosty. The family moved to Indianapolis in 1999 when Liam was 2, and soon became active members of St. Barnabas Parish on the city’s south side.

He said that his faith was nurtured at St. Barnabas School and, later, at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis.

It was the role of faith in his family that made a lasting impression on him.

“Every night before bed, without fail, my parents would pray the ‘Angel of God’ prayer together with us,” Hosty recalled. “My dad would come to our rooms and say the prayer. If my dad was out of town, my mom would do that. It’s been deeply imprinted in my memory of faith.”

While he was growing up at home as a young child, Hosty’s parents noticed him having difficulty speaking. By age 4, he could speak only a handful of words. That’s when he was diagnosed as having speech and learning disabilities.

Constant support from his family and the faculty and staff at St. Barnabas and Roncalli helped Hosty cope with his learning challenges that came with his condition.

“He and I have a special bond,” said his mom. She adds with a laugh, “I’m sure every time he studies for a test, he has my voice in his ear, ‘OK. You have to be organized.’ ”

Seeing her son succeed academically as a college seminarian at Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary and Marian University, both in Indianapolis, gave her great satisfaction.

“It’s part miracle, part hard work on Liam’s part,” she said. “When he was little, I shed a lot of tears. Now I have tears of joy. It’s amazing.”

‘It kind of came full circle’

The miracle part may have come about through Hosty’s devotion to St. John Vianney, to whom he began to pray while he was in middle school.

At the time, he had learned that the 19th-century French priest was a patron saint for students with learning challenges because he experienced great difficulties with his coursework in seminary.

As Hosty discerned a possible call to the priesthood while in high school, his appreciation of St. John Vianney grew as he learned that the priest is also the patron saint of all priests, but especially of parish priests.

The preserved heart of St. John Vianney was displayed for veneration in January 2019 in SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. Hosty took time to pray before the sacred relic of the saint who played such an important role in his discernment.

“It kind of came full circle in a way for me,” he said. “Seeing the heart of a priest who loved God and loved people, who sacrificed so much for them, was a powerful encounter.”

In addition to the prayers of St. John Vianney, Hosty was also supported in high school by his peers as he considered God’s vocation for him.

At a baccalaureate Mass prior to his graduation from Roncalli, Hosty was awarded a scholarship. When he was introduced, all at the Mass were told that he was going to be an archdiocesan seminarian in the fall at Bishop Bruté.

“Pretty much all of my classmates, more than 300 people, gave me a standing ovation,” Hosty recalled. “They were overjoyed that I was going to seminary. Many of them already knew.

“The support from my peers, as well as my teachers, was absolutely incredible.”

‘God’s guiding hand’

Support from his peers continued when Hosty joined the formation community of more than 40 seminarians at Bishop Bruté.

“I was struck by the fact that it wasn’t a monastery,” he said. “I lived with some 40 guys between 18 and 22. We played video games. We played soccer and frisbee. We went out to eat. We joked around. We watched football.

“Formation isn’t just prayer and study. It formed me to be the man that God wants me to be. It brought forth the gifts that God gave me in my human nature.”

Hosty’s parents weren’t sure at first, though, if college seminary was the right place for their son, thinking that it might be better for him to continue his discernment as an ordinary college student.

But his quick adjustment to life at the seminary and the happiness he found there convinced them he had made the right choice.

“It was very much hand-in-glove,” said his dad. “You could see that it was a perfect formation process for Liam. He thrived within that process. It helped his discernment. Any doubt I had was erased as I watched him go through his four years at Marian and at Bruté.”

That tight-knit community among his fellow seminarians and the priests on the formation staff proved to be invaluable for Hosty in his junior year at Bishop Bruté when the clergy sexual-abuse crisis flared up again at the same time that Jesuit Father Thomas Widner, the seminary’s beloved director of spiritual formation, died.

“That was a really challenging time,” Hosty said. “A lot of guys, myself included, had to realize that we’re really not in it for the glamour. There’s no glory in [the priesthood] for us in the way the world defines it. I realized, too, that while this old wound in the Church was being re-opened, we can be instruments to kind of heal it.”

Challenging times at Bishop Bruté continued when his senior year was abruptly cut short in March at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Marian halted in-person classes and the seminarians returned to their home dioceses.

Hosty said he went through some mourning of what he and his classmates had lost.

“But the Lord was at work in a mysterious way because of it,” he said. “I was able to have more time to spend in prayer and really looked at myself and my relationship with God. In some ways, I’m immensely grateful for God’s guiding hand during all of that.”

In the late spring, Hosty lived for about two months at the rectory of St. Barnabas Parish with its pastor, Father Daniel Mahan, much like the seminarian had done previously during breaks in school.

“Liam is a self-starter,” said Father Mahan. “He doesn’t have to wait for someone to give him instructions. During his school breaks, he took it upon himself to visit classrooms at

St. Barnabas and Roncalli to talk about vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Nobody asked him to do that. His talks were very well received.”

‘Pull the trigger’

Now a seminarian in I Theology at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad, Hosty is still affected by the pandemic.

Although in-person classes resumed at Saint Meinrad this fall, the seminarians wear masks and practice social distancing. Trips off campus are rare, and pastoral ministry in parishes, hospitals and nursing homes has been suspended.

Still, despite the continued challenges of priestly formation, Hosty knows he is where God wants him to be, convinced that his struggles with speech and learning disabilities since he was a young child prepared him for ordained ministry.

“I really had to focus on mitigating challenges presented to me on writing, speaking and interpersonal relationships, which is pretty much my entire vocation now,” Hosty said. “By focusing on that so much, I’ve really honed those skills to a T.”

He encourages other young men who think that God might be calling them to the priesthood to give the seminary a try, even if they have experienced challenges in their lives.

“If you’re a young guy discerning, just do it. Pull the trigger,” Hosty said. “You’re not wasting your life by going to seminary. You’re gaining an entirely beautiful life. I have no regrets and would do it all over again.”

(For more information on a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, visit www.HearGodsCall.com.)


More about Liam Hosty...

Age: 23

Parents: Tom and Julie Hosty

Home Parish: St. Barnabas Parish in Indianapolis

Education: St. Barnabas School, Roncalli High School, Marian University and Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary, all in Indianapolis; Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in St. Meinrad

Favorite Scripture passage: Matthew 5:3-12 (the Beatitudes)

Favorite saint: St. Joseph

Favorite prayer or devotion: St. Thomas Aquinas’ “Prayer before Communion”

Favorite book: Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis

Favorite movie: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Hobbies: Reading, running and hiking

 

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