Cam O’Meara

My name is Cam O’Meara, and I grew up in a suburban town in central Connecticut with my mom, dad, younger brother, and younger sister. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, playing baseball, watching the Red Sox, running, playing violin, and going to the beach on vacation. I was raised Catholic and was confirmed at my local parish church when I was fifteen, but we were a lukewarm Catholic family. For me, life seemed so good growing up, that I didn’t think much about God. 

I believed in Jesus and the Church, but other than going to Mass on Sunday, the faith didn’t mean much to me.

This started to change when I arrived as a freshman at the University of Maryland (UMD). It was during my first weekend there that I realized that going to Mass on Sunday would be a personal decision (rather than simply going or not going based on what my family was doing), and this excited me. I continued to go most weekends because I enjoyed the homilies of our two chaplains who were incredible, some of my friends on the club running team would also go, and there was something in me that was fulfilled when I went to Mass. At the same time, I started to experience more profound suffering for the first time in my life, and Mass was a refuge for me.

Throughout my freshman year and the beginning of my sophomore year, I became more involved in the Catholic Student Center (CSC) and began learning more about the faith and how to pray. During winter break of my sophomore year, I encountered God’s love for me in a profound way. This moment transformed the faith for me from being simply something good to do that brought me meaning to being the most important thing in life, because God is actually real, and He loves me, and this is what I was made for.

This was also when I began to consider my vocation for the first time. Growing up, I never thought about the priesthood and I had never heard the term “vocation,” and I had only spoken to a priest once (other than in confession). After an event at the CSC, our campus minister asked me if I had ever considered becoming a priest, and while I had never thought of it before, something in me “clicked” when I thought of the possibility, and I couldn’t shake the thought. In considering the possibility, the Lord gave me the grace to understand that He created me and everything about me in a very intentional way, and as I considered the priesthood, I saw that this could be the reason He made me as I am. The following semester, while on a vocation discernment retreat, I was given a pamphlet with the qualities of a man that could indicate a vocation to the priesthood. I remember reading the list and thinking, “Check, check, check, check…” because all of the qualities matched with who I am. I was filled with joy at the thought of the possibility that the Lord had created me to be a priest and He was calling me (rather than this simply being something that I wanted to do and was pursuing on my own initiative separate from His will).

As I continued to discern what vocation the Lord was calling me to, I continued to deepen my relationship with Him in prayer. As I did, I experienced moments of a deep and burning desire to leave everything behind and follow Him as the Apostles did. This desire would arise when reading scripture, or praying in a Chapel, or sometimes randomly. For example, when I was studying abroad in Madrid, some friends and I took a trip to San Sebastian, Spain,

one weekend. On the last day, my friend and I hiked up a hill in the area of the city called “Old Town,” which at the top had a statue of Jesus named “Estatua del Sagrado Corazon de Jesus.” Unbeknownst to me (until we arrived at the top), this statue had underneath its feet a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament reposed in a Tabernacle. As we were hiking to the top, I had this burning desire in my heart to leave everything and follow the Lord. I asked my friend (who is a devout Protestant) if he had ever experienced that same desire, but he told me he hadn’t. But my heart was burning and I wanted to follow the Lord as the Apostles had. But I had no clue what I was supposed to do about it.

In reading the lives of the saints, I saw that their lives were the answer to the question I had of how I was supposed to live out this desire to give everything and follow the Lord. Some of my favorite saints (and almost-saints) are St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Faustina, and Fr. Walter Ciszek. Their lives inspired me to see that these desires I had were an invitation from the Lord to live the religious life, as they were all religious themselves.

It was in meeting the Dominicans that I found a community that matched the desires for the priesthood and religious life that the Lord had been placing on my heart. When four of the brothers came to give a talk to the Midshipmen at the Naval Academy (where I’m currently serving as a FOCUS missionary) this past October, it was especially their joy and brotherhood that captivated me. This encounter inspired me to sign up for the upcoming Come and See retreat. It was on this weekend that I felt the call to apply for the novitiate.

The opportunity to enter into the lives of the Dominicans during that weekend (in the chanted Divine Office, Mass, meals in the refectory, evening social events, etc.) was powerful. Reflecting on my experience, I was struck by the holiness of the brothers. Seeing them in the chapel, at meals, while spending time together, etc., I was filled with a desire to be like them. I thought to myself, “This is the type of man I want to become.” It was also incredible to see their brotherhood and how they welcomed the discerners on the retreat into it. There was a moment during the Sunday brunch when I was sitting at a table with five of the brothers, and their joy and charity were so incredible, that I felt like I was one of them. I truly saw what the Lord meant when He said that in leaving family and friends to follow Him more closely, you will receive in return a hundredfold and inherit eternal life (cf. Mt. 19:29). Also, learning about the history of the Order and the way of life of Dominicans combined with witnessing the men that that Order and life produced, I could see that it was a beautiful and proven path to holiness that I also wanted to be part of. Hearing more about the mission and charism of the Order was also powerful. I loved how Dominicans assiduously study and contemplate the truths of the faith, yet all of this is ordered towards preaching for the salvation of souls. My own prayer life and spirituality are very similar, and I could see myself fitting in well with their life and mission. Another moment on the Come and See weekend that stood out to me was that as I was going to bed, I could hear some of the other men walking around in the halls as they prepared for bed. And I couldn’t help but feel at home; I felt like part of a family with many siblings, and it was beautiful and filled my soul with peace. For the first time since I began to consider and desire the priesthood, I encountered a community and a way of life to which I desired to give my full “Yes” to the Lord in pursuing. All of my experiences with the Dominicans since this retreat and in the application process have confirmed in me this desire to enter the novitiate with the Order.

Get Updated