|Mychal English Continues Spiritual Journey at Seminary|
When other children his age were playing with GI Joe or “school house,” Mychal English’s prophetic choice of childhood games foretold of his future vocation.
“When I was little, my sisters and I used to play Mass,” English said. “I was always the priest, our stuffed animals were the congregation, Ashley was the choir director and Brandi was the Deacon.”
English, a native of Liberty, Texas, is among the 316 undergraduates and 427 graduate students to graduate on Saturday, May 16 at Reliant Arena. After graduation, English will begin preparations to become a priest for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas. He will complete his studies leading to ordination at St. Mary’s Seminary.
“Even when my family was at Mass, and my sisters and I were giggling in the pews, when it came time for Communion, I would stop short and start paying attention,” English said. “I was always in awe of the priests because they were able to deliver the most precious gift – the body and blood of Christ – to the children of God. I knew some day I wanted to be able to give Eucharist.”
Despite nationwide reports of a shortage of American born priests over the last decade, English’s decision to follow the call to priesthood reflects a continued upswing in the enrollment of seminarians under age 30 in Texas.
The Rev. Brendan Cahill, Rector of St. Mary’s Seminary, said St. Mary’s has seen increased enrollment every years since 2003, and this year, 14 priests will be ordained – the largest “graduating class” since 1967. Of the 84 total seminarians, 40 are under the age of 30.
“When Pope Benedict XVI spoke in New York in April 2008, he expressed great joy that the number of American priests is no longer on the decline,” Fr. Cahill said. “We have been blessed in Texas to see strong numbers of seminarians, especially St. Mary’s.”
English, who majored in liberal arts with a concentration in theology and music, said he first began to consider the call to the priesthood after receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in 10th grade. At UST, he joined his older sister, Ashley, who graduated in 2007. The youngest English sister, Brandi, is currently majoring in communication and political science at UST.
“At different times in my life, the call to the priesthood would come and go,” he said “I would feel it strongly, and it would weaken, and I’d think maybe I would someday like to be married and have a family. I wanted to apply to Seminary right out of high school, but my mom encouraged me to go to college, experience life a little, take more time to discern the call, and then apply to Seminary after I graduate.”
English said he is glad he followed his mom’s advice because his experience at the University of St. Thomas gave him numerous opportunities to serve the Church, make connections in the Archdiocese, deepened his faith in God and helped him solidify his desire to become a priest.
While at UST, English serves as an altar server and assistant master of ceremonies at the Chapel of St. Basil and master of ceremonies at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. He also serves as the Deputy Grand Knight of the UST Knights of Columbus, works as a cantor at St. John Vianney Catholic Church and has worked in the UST General Office all four years.
“At UST, I had the chance to really learn about the Catholic Church,” he said. “I loved the theology program here. Philosophy courses helped me to better realize who I am body and soul. Together, my studies in philosophy and theology have brought me closer to God. All of the priests here on campus have been a tremendous help in my spiritual journey, but Rev William Kelly, my spiritual director, has really helped me grow by counseling me about Seminary and the priesthood.”