The diocesan Office of Vocations asked Kurt Meyer, James (Alex) Held and John Akau to share their vocation stories. Here are their thoughts on entering the diocesan priesthood, in their own words.
Kurt Meyer, born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. I am the fourth of five children born to Frederick and Rebecca Meyer. I have an older brother Fred, two older sisters Theresa and Kelly, a younger brother Aaron. I graduated from Radford High School, and received my BBA degree in accounting and MBA degree from the University of Hawaii. St. Philomena has been my parish all my life. My hobbies are anything I can do with my nieces and nephews, flying kites and creating a well-crafted joke.
I always say that my parents are the primary reason I am in the seminary. My parents were smiling down from heaven. They promoted religious life as an option to all my siblings. I prayed and talked to former (St. Philomena) pastors. Monsignor Terry Watanabe, Father Peter Miti and Father Rico Bernadez were all helpful.
My friends were very supportive (of the decision to enter seminary). Everyone keeps trying to send me Spam. I don’t need any more!
(In seminary) we study a lot, but besides intellectual growth we are also trying to develop our other three pillars of priestly formation: spiritual, human and pastoral. If I had to choose, my two favorite classes are “Doctrine of the Catholic Church” and “Introduction to Scripture.”
If God is calling you, don’t check the caller ID and send to voicemail. Pick up the phone and answer his call. Follow what God is telling you, and just do it.
James (Alex) Held
I was raised Catholic and owe my family a lot for giving me a great start in life and in the faith. My twin sister and I were raised in Charleston, South Carolina, and attended Catholic schools through high school. I moved to Honolulu after college in 2013. Before entering seminary I worked managing lifeguards at the Aulani Resort, teaching and substitute teaching at area schools and tutoring services, and giving surf lessons in Waikiki.
It was right after moving to Oahu that I started seriously discerning. I had a lot of time while job hunting and ended up attending daily Mass. It wasn’t long before I approached the vocations director.
My family and friends were very supportive of my decision to enter seminary. Most of my friends are not Catholic, so it was exciting to see the enchantment of the idea of Catholic priesthood even across religions and philosophies.
I’ve only been here at St. Patrick’s for a little over two months, but I’ve had an excellent experience thus far. The most striking feature is the integration of all aspects of life. The structured elements — classes, prayers, Masses, conferences and meetings — as well as the unstructured elements — meals, study and conversations — all synthesize to create a lifestyle that pulls in a singular direction.
If you think you have a vocation, I think you should do something about it. Until you take action, thoughts are opaque possibilities. After action, you tend to find clarity on the propriety of that action.
I would like to thank all of the parishioners in the diocese for their prayers and support. All of us seminarians are praying for you as well.
I come from a large family with seven children. I have all kinds of mixtures in ethnicities such as Hawaiian, Portuguese, Filipino, etc. I went to Kamehameha Schools in Kapalama. I received my bachelor of science degree in nursing in 2009. I worked as a nurse for approximately seven to eight years.
I became embedded in parish life at St. Joseph Church in Hilo. I started praying morning and evening prayer, and also attending adoration. I attended daily Mass, served as a sacristan and as a teacher for the RCIA program.
My hobbies are swimming, hanging out with friends and going to the beach.
A deeper prayer life and learning more about the Catholic faith aided in my discernment to enter seminary. Responding to the “call” I was feeling took courage, in that I had to renounce a former way of life to follow Jesus’s voice.
My favorite courses so far in seminary are philosophy and logic. Learning logic really helps with clarity of reasoning and thought.
If you are discerning a vocation, try to pray more. When we pray, we begin dialoguing with God, and it gives us the opportunity to better hear his will for our lives.
Also, get a good priest who has the time to listen and help you discern your calling. A good priest is like a good doctor who is available to listen and help you come to a better judgment or “diagnosis” of what the signs in your life are leading you to be.