My name is Charles Bemis, and I am a Seminarian for the Diocese of St. Augustine, entering my third year of Formation at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, FL. I have been a Florida native all my life, having been born in Tallahassee before relocating to Winter Park a few years later and eventually moving to Middleburg when I was six years old. My family and I have been parishioners of St. Luke’s Catholic Church since 2004. Growing up, I always expressed my desire to become a Priest. I went to Daily Mass and Adoration with my Grandmother as often as I could and really developed a love for the Eucharist. Over time as I got older, I steered away from that desire, while still being an active member of my parish community, especially through liturgical ministries and participation in youth groups.
Entering my final year of High School, I had plans to attend the University of North Florida and study sports management. I did not know the plans that God had in store for me until later on that year. In November 2015, I went back to Tallahassee for my birthday and went to mass at the Church I was baptized at. After Mass, as I was heading out the door, I greeted the Priest who had just celebrated Mass. He asked what my name was, took a look at me and paused. He asked me if I was discerning a call to the Priesthood. I was so taken aback by that question; I didn’t know how to answer it. At first, I thought nothing of it and then suddenly I felt this restlessness in my heart. I found myself going to Adoration and Daily Mass once again. I couldn’t think of anything else but the Priesthood and entering the Seminary, I tried to suppress that voice, but the more I tried the louder it got. During Holy Week, I came to a point spiritually when I opened myself up to what the will of God was for my life, and decided to begin the application process to enter Seminary. At that moment, I felt an overwhelming amount of peace and joy, as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Of course my first two years have had their challenges, but the good definitely outweighs the bad and I still feel that this calling is worth pursuing.
I am blessed and overjoyed for the opportunities that are in front of me this summer at Catholic Charities. What I hope to get out of it is interaction with other people with a different variety of experience and needs. Prior to my assignment here, I never really had any experience with anything relating to most of the departments, so I hope to gain valuable experience serving the people of God. My first week went well working in the Food Pantry, meeting volunteers and clients as well as getting to know them. Once again, I am thankful for this opportunity and look forward to what the rest of the summer has in store.