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​Welcome to the website for the Office of Priestly Vocations of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, MI. This year twenty-five men from our diocese will be in seminary formation programs in preparation for ordination, seven of whom are new to formation. Thirteen of these men are at St. John Vianney College Seminary and twelve are at USML/Mundelein Seminary.

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‘Drop Everything and Follow Me’

May 2024

by Deacon Nick Baker

‘Drop everything and follow me’

My story is one of redemption and second chances; one of God’s reckless love and mercy. Growing up, music was always at the center of my life. My parents quickly noticed I had a gift for it, and even though they were not musicians, they supported me by buying me my first guitar when I was 6 years old and taking me to weekly lessons. But it ended up being the saxophone that I felt most at home playing. I loved jazz, specifically improvisation, because of the technical and creative aspect that was needed to play fluently.

It was during middle school that I first felt called to the priesthood. My youth minister and parish priest would mention to me at youth group that I should look into the semi-nary and find out what God was calling me to. But I didn’t even give God a chance. I was set on doing my own will.

I was drawn to the musical opportunities in Nashville, Tennessee, and decided to attend Belmont University there to study saxophone performance and music production.

It was in Nashville that I lost my faith. I stopped attending Mass and started to question God’s existence. I began to live the “rockstar” lifestyle, and I became consumed by addiction.

From the outside, it looked like I was living the dream! I had recorded three albums and was gigging multiple times a week. But on the inside, I was empty. There was a hole in my heart no earthly pleasure could fulfill. On Dec. 18, 2016, I hit rock bottom.

My high school youth minister stayed in touch after I moved away and would call on and off to check on me, but I was too embarrassed to answer his calls. But when I hit rock bottom, I decided to finally reach out and ask for help. He said I needed to go to confession. After putting up a fight, I folded and decided to go.

What I experienced in confession changed my life. I experienced a love like never before. I knew all my sins were forgiven; I was given a second chance.

After this life-changing confession, I met with my home pastor for counsel. He loved me with the heart of Christ and offered me practical wisdom. This was the spark to my conversion.

After these powerful encounters, I immediately got sober and started praying and going to Mass again. As weeks went by and my faith became stronger, Jesus turned my life upside down. I was standing on my balcony in Nashville when I heard Jesus say, “Drop everything and follow me.” As soon as I heard these words, it immediately started pouring down rain. I began to sob uncontrollably. With certainty, I knew God was real and he was calling me to follow him. I said, “Yes Lord, I will drop everything and follow you.”

Through prayer and counsel, it became clear that Jesus was calling me to enter seminary. He was asking me to sacrifice my musical dreams and live a life of service for his people. This was a hard pill to swallow at first, but a sacrifice I would make again today in a heartbeat.

Over the past seven years of seminary, Jesus has continued to heal my broken heart and draw it into his own Sacred Heart. A life centered around pleasure has been transformed into a life centered around love and peace. As I look toward ordination in June, I couldn’t be happier to participate in Christ’s priesthood. I know my heart has been created to love in this way.

I share this story with you as a sign of hope that Jesus never abandons us. I have experienced this firsthand. Jesus does the same for all his people. The question is, will you respond?

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