PATIENCE AND THE PRIESTHOOD: A VOCATION 50 YEARS IN THE MAKING

(CNA) On average, diocesan priests take about six years to complete seminary formation. For Dominican priests, it is seven. Jesuits study for over a decade. David Pinto, however, has them all beat.

Pinto was ordained a deacon in June this year. When he is ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kalamazoo on December 8, 2020, at the age of 71, it will be the conclusion of 53 years of formation, discernment, and prayer.

Pinto entered St. Meinrad Seminary, Indiana, in 1967, shortly after he graduated high school. After graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1971, he moved on to St. John Provincial Seminary, planning on being ordained a few years later.

That didn’t happen.

Shortly after Pinto began theology studies, his father died suddenly. As the oldest of 12 siblings, he elected to leave seminary and assist his mother in raising his brothers and sisters. He stuck around until his youngest sibling was through college, and then helped with his nieces and nephews.

All the while, the goal of becoming a priest remained in his heart. In his late 30s, Pinto attempted again to re-enter seminary, but family obligations once again took precedence.

Pinto explained to CNA that while he was “not at all” frustrated in having to delay his seminary studies to take care of his siblings, there “were a lot of stressful and challenging times.”

Finally, in 2017, he enrolled at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Michigan. Pinto told CNA that despite the 44-year gap in formal seminary studies, it was “not a problem” for him to jump back in straight to the three years of theology studies.

Pinto explained to CNA that he was able to maintain his faith during his seminary hiatus by relying on “knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, that he is God, and His love of us is infinite.”

Tej Francis

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