We are excited to announce the latest video for our Buckeye Vocations YouTube channel. This time we were able to sit down with Deacon Jarred Kohn who was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate on April 29, 2017 and is about to enter his final year of seminary formation before being ordained a priest. In this first video he talks about his discernment journey and gives us some great advice on how to deal with doubt in discernment. Enjoy!
For those who would rather not watch the video, the full transcript is below.
Full Video Transcript:
Where do you call home?
My home parish is St. Mary in Philothea, which is up in the Coldwater Cluster which is in Mercer County or “God’s country” as we like to call it back home.
How long have you been in the seminary?
Well, I think it would be 7 or 8 years depending on how you count. I started in 2009, which would be 8 years, but I did take a year off after my freshman year, just [sic] discernment can be tricky.
So, why did you decide to leave?
I didn’t actually decide after my freshman year that, “Okay, this isn’t for me; I need to take a year off,” or whatever. My intention was, at the end of that year, to come back. But I was working somewhere and I had to be there at 4:45 in the morning which meant that, I never really got to daily Mass, that often. But it was also at 4:45 in the morning so I wasn’t dedicated enough to do Liturgy of the Hours and pray the Office of Readings or morning prayer that I now promise to do everyday but at the time it wasn’t necessarily a requirement. So, my spiritual life, kind of, you know, wasn’t as important at that time. And as a result of that I think I began to waver. Also, kind of, entering seminary I never intended to go to college after high school, so it was a difficult year to adjust to academic life, to life in the city; all these different factors (being away from my family), all kind of hit me the summer coming back.
So what happened next?
I called the vocation director at the time and he said, “Take a year. Do what you need to do.” So, I called the rector at Brute College Seminary and he was also very supportive. So I began working and my summer job eventually transferred into going back to a welding career which meant working third shift. That was actually pretty nice for the spiritual life in a way because I could get home early in the morning, go to morning Mass, do my morning prayer and office of readings, then go to bed. Then I’d wake up, and was able to do evening prayer, night prayer and all that stuff, so it kind of got me back into a rhythm. Once that started happening, then all of a sudden God began speaking again like, “Hey, what about seminary?”
What other ways did you develop your prayer life?
As I mentioned, going to Mass more frequently. I was pretty much going everyday but, you know, that isn’t necessary and perhaps isn’t even practical for everybody, but going as often as you can, even during the week. But then also, frequent confession was also a big thing. It helps us to clear out the obstacles that are keeping us from the Lord and helps us also to examine what is going on in our heart and kind of flood out what is our self-will and what is our sinful nature and sort out what is that part of us that is naturally attracted to God. Then there is private prayer. I feel blessed in growing up in a country parish because still to this day, we have 24 hours a day that the church is open so to spend that private time with the Lord in the blessed sacrament has always been a source of, you know, has always been the most important part of my spiritual life; the opportunity to spend that time with Lord has always been that key.
How do you deal with doubt in discernment?
You know I think it’s an important aspect of taking on the diaconate and priesthood but it’s also an element that can make guys waver, it’s that realization that, “I’m not worthy of this.” Which is true! But it’s also not yours to take on. It’s really Christ who is really taking you into his life and his own ministry. It is not something you can simply posses by your own merit. I’m never going to be a good priest because I’m Jarred; I’m going to be a good priest because I’ve allowed Christ to take ownership of my heart and I’ve taken ownership of his and so we have that mutual relationship. So without some recognition that I’m a flawed human being and in some ways I’m also a goofy and quirky guy but somehow Jesus is still calling me to this and calls other guys who are all different and he wants to speak through each one of our personalities to the people of God and wants to, you know, draw the entire world to himself. It’s just crazy. It’s awesome!
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Filmed and produced by US Digital Partners for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati on location at Mount St. Mary's Seminary of the West.