Last month, Brice Higginbotham was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate for the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux. When he was a student at UL he was very involved in the ministry at Wisdom. Through his encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist and the community here at Wisdom, he found help in discerning his vocation to the priesthood. He is currently studying at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and will be ordained to the priesthood next year. Here is Deacon Higginbotham’s testimony.
It was the Spring of 2008 and I was wandering around UL’s campus during early orientation. It was about 11:30 on a Friday morning. Somehow I stumbled upon a little church, where I saw that there was a noon Mass. I went inside determined to pray, but knowing that meant I was skipping orientation lunch. As Mass was completed and I began to leave, I was invited by at least three people to “Lunch with the Lord,” a free lunch for students after Mass on Fridays held in Jeanmard Hall. I returned to orientation that afternoon knowing I had found a home on campus. My home wasn’t in the honors building, nor was it in the library. It was partially in the gym; but it was mostly in that little church and in that chapel shaped like a snail shell.
I lived at home during my one and only year at UL, but I went to that noon Mass every day I was on campus. I always went to Lunch with the Lord on Fridays and sometimes played football with the guys at the park afterwards. I did camp W.I.S.D.O.M., a retreat or two, and one or two evangelization initiatives. But it wasn’t any of that which helped me to discern my vocation to celibacy and to the holy priesthood.
What helped me to discern well was hours and hours in that little chapel. What helped me to discern was daily Mass. What helped me to discern most of all was the people at Wisdom. For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel pressure to go to the seminary or to be a priest. For the first time in my life, I met other men who were legitimately open about their discernment of entering seminary in a quiet and steady way. At Wisdom, I felt I was part of a community of men and women who were simply pursuing Jesus. It was that support, quiet and subtle, which helped give me the freedom to say “yes” to God’s call to seminary seven years ago, and it’s that same freedom (broadened and deepened over these past seven years) which enabled me to say “I do” just a few weeks ago; it enabled me to say “I do” to celibacy and to ordination to the diaconate. And it’s in freedom, given by God, that (with His grace and holy perseverance) I will next year say “I do” again and become a priest of Jesus Christ.
– Deacon S. Brice Higginbotham, Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
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