Home Parish: SS. John & James Parish, West Warwick
Seminary: Our Lady of Providence
High School: West Warwick H.S.
College: Providence College
Parents: Dennis & Maureen Krocka
Siblings: I’m an only child.
Hobbies: Playing the piano, I’ve been playing for six years.
When did you start thinking about being a priest?
I really started giving serious thought to being a priest during my freshman year in high school.
What were some Church activities that you participated in prior to entering the seminary?
Prior to entering the seminary, I served and continue to serve my parish as the weekend sacristan as well as being a lector, extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, a 10th grade Religious Education teacher, and the coordinator of Altar Servers.
What is your favorite scripture passage? Why?
Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” This passage is very special to me because these words remind me that no matter how incapable I think I may be, anything is possible with Christ.
Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” This passage reminds me that God has a plan for me in my life. I know that God already knows every moment of my life from birth to death.
Who influenced/inspired you to priesthood? Explain.
Certainly my parents have inspired me to the priesthood as well as Fr. Dariusz Jonczyk and Fr. Dan Sweet, the past and current associate pastor at my parish respectively and Deacon Paul Shea, the deacon assistant at my parish. One of the biggest influences in discerning my vocation was my pastor Msgr. Jacques Plante, who taught me first hand, through working as the sacristan, that a priest is just a normal man called by God to serve His church. By working with the clergy at my parish I was able to see the challenges and rewards, successes and failures, trials and tribulations of a parish priest.
Did anybody invite you to consider the priesthood?
Throughout high school, I attended various retreats at the Seminary of Our Lady of Providence and these retreats did a wonderful job of inviting me to consider the priesthood.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ and his call in your life?
Early in my life, because of my parents’ varying work schedules, we found ourselves unable to go to Sunday Mass which led to my family falling away from the church. It was not until I was in the 5th grade that I began to question my parents about why I didn’t have to attend the CCD classes my friends were talking about. Seeing my interest they enrolled me in CCD classes at St. James Church. Because we had fallen away from the church, I not only had to go to the 5th grade class but then also had to go to a children’s RCIA class so that I could make my First Communion. After my First Communion, my religious education teacher announced to my class that the parish was looking for new altar servers. Hesitant at first, I decided to give it a try and eventually fell in love with it. Serving on the altar made me really appreciate my faith and allowed me the opportunity to take what I was learning in religious education class and see it put into practice. When St. James parish merged with St. John the Baptist parish in 2003 a job as the parish sacristan became available. My pastor and assistant pastor asked me one Sunday morning if I was interested when I was a freshman in high school and not too long after I took the job. So, serving at the altar and attending religious education classes coupled with what my parents were teaching me led me to know Jesus Christ and begin to discern His call for me.
What were the spiritual events or activities that helped you develop and shape your personal relationship with Christ and his Church?
Especially thorough out high school, I began to regularly go to Eucharistic Adoration and I found that the time I spent in front of our Lord was, for me, comforting. I knew that I could go to church and place all of my fears and troubles before Christ on the altar and He would take care of them. I saw Eucharistic Adoration as a way of sitting down and having a conversation with Christ as I would with a friend. I also began finding comfort as well in praying the Rosary and going to Daily Mass.
Were there any signs that led you to believe God was calling you to be a priest?
While I have been discerning my vocation, I’ve been asked to take on several new projects at my parish such as becoming a Religious Education Teacher, lector, etc. With each new project, I initially find myself a bit apprehensive, but after doing it for a while I come to love it. So, it seems that by getting involved in parish life, God has opened a window for me to seeing what life as a priest is like.
How did your family and friends react when you told them that you were entering the seminary?
From the very beginning my family was very supportive of my decision to enter the seminary. My friends, on the other hand, were a little harder to convince. Obviously trying to understand why an 18 year old in today’s society would want to commit to a life of celibacy and prayer is difficult but after a while my friends saw that this was something that meant a lot to me and became very supportive of my decision.
Why is the priesthood so important today?
In our increasingly secular society priests are able to continue to receive the Sacraments and remind the world that God is an everlasting presence in our lives whether we chose to ignore Him or not. I think the priesthood is necessary so that the church and the Catholic faith are perpetuated.
What advice would you give to a man who is “on the fence” about entering the seminary?
A wise person I know once told me that if you give God an inch, he will give you back a mile. It is very important for a man considering the priesthood to remember to trust in God. There are many men out there who are hearing God’s call to the priesthood and not answering it for whatever reason. But if you feel you are being called to the priesthood, take it to prayer. If the priesthood is not for you, God will let you know. Allow God the opportunity to work in you and you will be surprised how much, together, you both can do.