For most of his childhood, convert Adam Bradshaw was un-churched. But as he went through catechesis to become Catholic at age 20, he felt called to go further—and today he’s in formation to become a priest.
Now 27, Bradshaw, a transplant from Texas, begins his fifth year of seminary study this fall at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver.
“In the few months leading up to my entering the Church I was already in talks with (Vocations Director) Father Jim Crisman. I thought the priesthood was fascinating,” he said. “Really, my whole life as a Catholic has been tied to the seminary.”
Appealing to Bradshaw is that priests are part of life events from the cradle to the grave.
“The priest is involved at every stage of life—the baptism of babies, the first Communion of children, he marries couples and presides at funerals,” Bradshaw said.
The key role priests play in one’s life journey makes celibacy a nonissue for him.
“The priest isn’t giving up a family,” Bradshaw said. “He’s taking on a larger family.”
His four years in the seminary have affirmed his vocational call.
“I’ve been able to get a clearer vision of what the priesthood is and discern that in light of, Is this something I can do?” he said.
“I have great conviction,” he added, “God is calling me to that office and to form my life in order to exercise that office.”
Mission trips to San Francisco to work with Blessed Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in a hospice and to Mexico doing catechesis in rural towns was gratifying and nurtured his desire to serve as a priest.
“(That) was very rewarding,” he said. “And I had beautiful experiences with the people.”
Even the seminary’s challenging academics are a blessing, Bradshaw said.
“I see it’s crucial to what we’ll do in our ministry,” he said. “Not only for our intellectual life but for our faith in general, and the ability to hand it on and evangelize. The academic aspect informs my prayer life.”
And while support from his parish community, St. Joseph’s in Golden, and fraternal encouragement from his seminary classmates have fostered his vocational call, the most profound influence may be the inspiring priestly witness he’s receiving.
“When I see strong priests, it’s really good for me,” he said. “It’s something I wish to emulate.”
What is he most looking forward to about the priesthood?
“Just being part of a parish, of this family God brings us to,” he said. “To be a priest for the people, to celebrate sacraments with them, to do catechesis and teach them about the faith.”
What does he find most formidable about the priesthood?
“Leading an exemplary life. One of the most important facts in evangelization is to live a true witness,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that’s daunting, but something I need to be aware of and which will happen through the grace of God. It’s something I pray I will always improve on doing: being a witness to the people.
“It’s important that we allow Christ to shine in our world,” he emphasized. “The Church deserves incredible priestly witness.”
Adam Bradshaw’s take on service
Q: How do you strive to be of service to others?
A: I feel God is calling me to best live out a life of service through the priesthood, administering sacraments. The priesthood is like a bridge between heaven and earth. Archbishop Charles Chaput said in order to be a bridge you need to be stepped on. It requires a lot of humility … resignation of my own will to God’s will and to let him work in peoples’ lives. That’s one of the most important aspects: to help people to see Christ, not me—to lead people to a personal relationship with Christ.
Q: What would you say to those who are supporting your seminary formation?
A: First of all, I have immense gratitude for them. Most important, for their prayers; nothing can be done through my own power without the graces of prayer. But also for their financial support, friendship and words of encouragement: all of these are so uplifting for me. Seminary formation is not for me to be ordained but for me to be of service. Some who have supported me are people I know very well, some are people I don’t know at all. I pray for them and very much appreciate their support.