FATHER SAMUEL MCCARTY
Growing up in Wausau, Father Samuel McCarty turned toward the priesthood at a young age, with his journey influenced by work as an altar server and witnessing the work of good priests. “It was more of a gradual thing,” says Father McCarty. “For me, it was a collection of evidence that pointed in the same direction. I was able to see with more and more clarity. I made the decision at the end of high school to go right into seminary. I went to St. John Vianney Seminary and studied philosophy.”
His focus on Catholic studies and classical languages was a highlight, while a semester studying in Rome reinforced his direction toward the priesthood. “That was formative for my vocation,” Father McCarty says. “It was a study abroad program. I was influenced by a priest over there who is involved in our community.”
Studying classical languages gave Father McCarty the opportunity to read Virgil and Augustine in their original languages and to read the New Testament in Greek. “I enjoyed the classical languages, although maybe not so much at the beginning,” Father McCarty says. “That was really exciting, like putting a puzzle together.”
Learning Catholic history invigorated Father McCarty’s passion for the Church. “My Catholic studies were my favorite,” he says. “One of them was a whole course on John Henry Newman. That was super interesting. Another was on St. John of the Cross. That’s something that’s really carried me through my academic studies.”
Attending Mundelein Seminary for his final four years of preparation for the priesthood ended abruptly when the seminarians were sent home in the middle of March. He finished the final five weeks of classes online. Although it was not ideal, Father McCarty found his connection with parish life to be a blessing.
Living at Mary, Mother of the Church in La Crosse provided him with community living and additional pastoral work. “I became more involved in the parish—going to Mass and doing some preaching,” says Father McCarty. “I was very fortunate that I was well taken care of. This has been a good opportunity. I hadn’t spent much time in the city of La Crosse.” The one-on-one time with Father Brian Konopa was another gift—for friendship and for learning the life of a parish priest. “We had dinners together almost every single night,” Father McCarty says.
“One of my big passions is teaching people about prayer,” says Father McCarty. “How can I facilitate individual relationships with the Lord?”
For those discerning how God is calling them, Father McCarty is reassuring about the freedom found in answering the call. “I think, a lot of the time, there’s a lot of worry about vocations,” he says. “Be confident in the Lord’s call and anointing in your life. Be courageous.”
Contact Fr. Sam by email at email@example.com.