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Paving the way to the priesthood

May 10, 2012

Newburgh, NY -

Blessing of Animals

Paul Richmond (left) assists Fr. Kevin Mackin OFM, president of Mount Saint Mary College, as he blesses Tank Tebow, a Newburgh Police Department bloodhound, during the annual Blessing of Pets.

Philosophy and religious studies courses at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY not only provide a set of values and principles to live by, but can help one hear his life’s calling.

Graduating senior Paul Richmond noted that philosophy and religious studies at the Mount “helped me tremendously in my vocation to become a priest.”

Richmond, of Kingston, NY, was involved with campus ministry, directed by Fr. Francis Amodio, O.Carm., which also strengthened his choice of vocation.

“Through community, prayer, retreats, and service,” said Richmond, “I gained discernment.”

As an altar server for masses, helping with campus ministry events and working with the poor at Newburgh Ministries, provided rich opportunities that confirmed the call on Richmond’s life.

He served as the sacristan, responsible for gathering and preparing all the materials necessary for mass in Founders Chapel and the Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary in the Dominican Center, both on the Mount campus.

“As head altar server for campus ministry, I served mass, trained altar servers, and helped the chaplain with his duties in the chapel and office,” said Richmond, a media studies/production major.

The Dominican heritage at Mount Saint Mary College also “shaped my vocation through its various teachings and always seeking out the truth in life,” noted Richmond.

The tradition of the Dominican Order includes the search for “veritas” (truth) in all disciplines and “disputatio” (respectful dialogue).

Religious studies curriculum at the Mount provides a multi-faceted, worldwide introduction to the religious patterns of humanity.

Courses in philosophy cover the insights and theories of major Western and Eastern philosophers, helping students master the basic skills of philosophical thought and an “examined life.”

Richmond said professor Ed Teall’s philosophy classes “taught me to always ask the question ‘why’ until you find an answer, and to never let anything get in your way from reaching a goal and having success in your life.”

A course on the New Testament, taught by Fr. Amodio, helped Richmond understand “the truth of my faith and define different aspects of my life with regard to my religious vocation.”

Mount Saint Mary College is Dominican in heritage, with a Franciscan friar, Fr. Kevin Mackin, OFM, as president, and a Carmelite friar as chaplain and campus ministry director. Richmond said he found himself “in the middle of a crossroads of these three religious orders. I began asking questions about each, and their unique spirituality.”

Richmond will join the formation program of the Order of Carmelites, Providence of St. Elias in Middletown, NY, following graduation in May. He will study philosophy and theology at Seton Hall University in New Jersey in the fall.

“The formation process – which includes the stages of pre-novitiate study, novitiate life as a brother in community, simple vows of poverty, chastity and obedience; solemn vows which are permanent to death, the sacrament of holy orders for ordination as a deacon, and then ordination to the priesthood -- takes about eight years of study and pastoral work,” said Richmond.

When Richmond arrived on the Mount campus, he “immediately fell in love” with the spectacular views of the Hudson River.

“The selling point for me was the small class sizes,” he noted, adding that faculty members “really seem to care.”

His favorite memory of the Mount is “hanging out with friends I love in the campus ministry office, where we shared many laughs, and some tears,” said Richmond.

“Although we came as strangers, we’re leaving as a family,” he added.