At SLS16, I had the privilege to meet many young men undergoing the priestly formation and discernment process.  As a fallen young man, I did not consider such a vocation and greatly rue not spending the time in dialogue with God about what He willed for my life.  Like I always say, I was far too foolish to discern my vocation so God, in His infinite mercy and love, gave me my vocation – in the person of my beautiful wife, Marcy.

However, young men like Wade Bakhit are living a life that I hope for my sons one day.  Wade is a third year seminarian for the Diocese of Lincoln Nebraska and was in attendance at SLS16.  He grew up outside of Lincoln, NE for the first 10 years of his life and moved back into town in third grade where he started attending the local Catholic school.  He graduated from Pius X High School and attended one year at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) before following God’s call to seminary.  He currently attends St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, NE.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.  Could you tell us a bit about your encounter with Christ?

My conversion was a huge change for me.  I slowly started to fall away in grade school and progressively moved further away as I got into High School.  I remember my Senior year of high school; I saw how things weren’t good and I just didn’t want that life anymore.  Half way through my senior year, I went on this retreat called TEC (Teens encounter Christ) and I finally felt at peace there.  At TEC, I loved everyone else around me and I saw what I wanted to have in those people.  I know now that it was Christ impacting me, but at the time I didn’t know that.  When I came back from that retreat, it was a 180 degree change.  I don’t even know how to explain it; it was just amazing.  I knew I didn’t want what I was doing and I knew I just wanted goodness.  So I came back and tried to live my faith again even though I feel like I never really had it before.

Could you tell me a little bit more about TEC?

I don’t know too much about the organization, but I know that there are a number of states who had it before Lincoln got involved.  It started out with TEC 1 and I attended TEC 80 three or four years ago.  I think they are somewhere in the 90’s now.

It wasn’t a huge conference, but more of a retreat; there were maybe forty high school students there.  They try to get students from throughout all of the Lincoln Diocese, but most come from the Catholic schools in the area.  A few are from public schools, but not too many.

You said your life changed 180 degrees, could you describe what that looked like?

At the time, I didn’t realize how drastic it actually was.  I thought, “I don’t want what I am doing anymore” and so I started hanging out with new friends. That was the big thing – hanging out with them – and I started going to mass again.  Going to mass really took off when I went to college because there is a great Newman Center.  It is an awesome, on-fire place, so I started going to daily mass there and Community nights which are Thursday nights.  Community night is where they have mass and then do something fun afterwards.  That was really big for me, seeing that Catholic community in college.

I wouldn’t say that when I was in college I was evangelizing since I had just started the conversion process.  But, it was leading me on the path I needed to go which is seminary.  I felt called the first half of my freshman year and entered seminary the following year at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, NE.  Right now I am in the minor seminary for philosophy.

My time in seminary has made me grow in discipleship.  I have seen that more and more.  Now, I’m able to evangelize because I am receiving love and I can give that love to others.  Before, I didn’t feel that I could give because I didn’t have anything to give since I was focused on myself.  Now it is coming out and overflowing.

I know seminaries end up building great fraternal friendships.  Is there anything you guys are doing as brothers to build up your own faith and also to share that faith with others? 

For outreach, the seminary organizes our apostolate to go out on Wednesdays  to the local communities. Sometimes we go to CCD classes; sometimes we go to grade schools during the day and we talk to the students.  It is a lot of fun and we get to spend time with kids; it is great to see the little kids!  Another thing we do, which isn’t exactly evangelization, is go on fun trips together.  For example, during breaks we’ll go on camping trips to the border of Nebraska and South Dakota.  We’ll go hiking, etc. and it is really good for the brotherhood bond.

Final thought, you’re here, you’re learning how to evangelize.  How are you going to bring this back to the seminary and how are you going to incorporate all these evangelistic tools to fulfill the Great Commission in your priesthood?

We have a “Year Three” Bible study that we do on Sundays through which we build our brotherhood while learning the Gospels and Sacred Scripture.  I think all of the tools I’ve learned here are definitely going to benefit that study.  I’ll be able to show them all the different kinds of Bible studies FOCUS has, and the different methods that they use…it is obviously very effective!  By being able to show that to the other seminarians, we’ll carry it out to the world from there!

Any last thoughts?

The biggest thing in my life were good people, like the different priests who impacted me.  That was very key because if these people hadn’t been there for me, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.  A specific example would be my introduction to spiritual direction.  It has been very key to the spiritual growth in my own life and I really hope that everyone can have that in their life as well.

Thank you Wade and may God bless your discernment and studies!