From the article "Seminarian Shares Vocation
Path as Ordination Day Nears",
Vermont Catholic Magazine, June 2015
Scott Gratton once gave God an ultimatum: In three months convince him that the Catholic faith was the fullness of Truth or he would leave God and his faith forever.
A student at Middlebury College at the time, Gratton told God he would ask one of his classmates — a woman his age who was on fire with her faith — what she did to fall in love with Catholicism. Whatever she did, he promised God he would do for three months. But, if aer those three months he were still not convinced, he would be done with God.
The woman told Gratton about four things that were important to her faith life: daily Mass, regular confession, weekly Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and weekend volunteering at a homeless shelter.
He was not excited about going to confession, but he “bit the bullet” and confessed his sins for the first time in a long time. She had to explain to him what Adoration was, and he had never considered going to Mass daily. Only volunteering at the shelter excited him.
“I started doing all of these things, and after one month, I woke up, threw all my things into my bag, rushed off to class, and just felt like there was a dark, heavy cloud lingering over me all day. I didn’t know why I felt so bad, but it felt like I was lost all day,” Gratton recalled. “Nothing seemed to be going right. It wasn’t until after lunch that it all clicked! I had missed Mass that morning. From that day on I realized that there is something amazing happening at Mass.”
And his life changed.
Gratton not only fully embraced his Catholic faith, he entered the seminary and will be ordained a priest of the Diocese of Burlington July 11 at 10 a.m., less than two weeks after his 28th birthday.
Scott Alan Gratton was born in Newport on July 1, 1987, the son of Peter and Janet (DeLaBruere) Gratton; he has two siblings Jamie Petit, 34, and Nathan Gratton, 30.
His home parish is Mater Dei, St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Newport, and he attended local public and Catholic schools, graduating from North Country Union High School in Newport in 2005.
He graduated from Middlebury College in 2009 with a double major in religious traditions and Italian then studied philosophy at Providence College before entering major seminary at the Pontifical North American College in Rome. at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in 2014; in May, he was studying for his licentiate in dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and for his masters in Augustinian Studies and Spirituality at the Augustinian Patristic Institute.
Gratton has worked as a Wendy’s shift manager, a flower delivery boy, a Vermont state soccer official and a dog-sled handler at Alaska Icefield Expeditions.
As a seminarian, he has spent summers helping with the Totus Tuus summer program for children and youth and in parish ministry in Richford, East Berkshire, Montgomery, Northfield, Williamstown and Burlington.
A fan of banjo playing, soccer, rugby and fishing, Gratton first heard the call to the priesthood when he was in second grade. “I saw my parish priest, and saw a man who simply loved people and tried to help them in their struggles,” he said. “At the time, I wanted to be a baker and a bus driver, but the notion of being a priest became a real possibility.”
He began practicing by “marrying” his friends at recess and hearing confession in the bushes. “The Lord was definitely working in my heart as an 8-year-old boy, but as I grew older and went into high school, the idea of becoming a priest went completely out the window,” he said.
In high school he immersed himself in playing soccer and running track, playing percussion in the band and hanging out with his friends; he became enamored by the ways of the world.
Like St. Augustine in his early days, Gratton was driven by a strong desire to be popular, and he became “less and less virtuous toward others in high school because my thirst for popularity became insatiable,” he said.
He did enjoy high school, but by the end of it, he did not like the person he had become. He described himself at the time as a self-centered man who only helped others if it would, somehow, benefit him in the long run.
“The Lord came to my rescue, and in His providence, He allowed me to get accepted to Middlebury College — a school where none of my friends had been accepted,” Gratton continued. “It became like a fresh start for me. could change my life around. I could seek only to help others, while not thinking about myself and my own popularity for once. My time at Middlebury College allowed me to simply see other people for the dignity God had given them and serve them without counting the cost.”
In his Religious Traditions major he took courses in all the major world religious traditions — Buddhism with Buddhists in his class, Islam with Muslims, Christianity with Christians — and in each of these classes, he was what he called “the token Catholic who did not know my faith.”
Learning about these different traditions intrigued him, and he saw elements of beauty in them. It made him question his own Catholic faith and ask why he was still a Catholic.
He was still going to Mass every week. He knew all the responses and when to stand up and sit down, but it did not mean anything to him. “I did not know the deeper meaning behind all of these motions and words,” he said.
Gratton finally came to a breaking point. “I knew I had been living my faith haleartedly, and I didn’t want to live that anymore; I wanted to be all in or all out,” he said. “I didn’t care which way I had to go, but I couldn’t stand being lukewarm anymore.”
That’s when he gave God the ultimatum. And he found that there was something being offered at Mass that was different than any other religion he had studied or experimented with. “It wasn’t until a year or two later that I realized just what — or better, yet, Who — I was receiving every single day at Mass: our Lord Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist,” he said.
It was the Eucharist that brought him into a deeper understanding of his faith and allowed him to have that intimate relationship with God that he desired so desperately.
He continued going to daily Mass throughout his last year of college, and the idea of becoming a priest kept creeping back into his mind. But he thought he would work with the Peace Corps in Africa for a few years and then return to Vermont to live a simple life, with a large family, running a self-sustainable farm.
“But, the idea of becoming a priest became an obsession that I could not get out of my mind. I did not want to be a priest anymore. I thought I had already gotten rid of those thoughts in high school. Still, I could not shake the idea from my heart. I still didn’t think I was meant to be a priest, but I didn’t want to be 48 years old and realize I should have become a priest at 28 years old. I finally decided to enter seminary for one year to prove to God that He was wrong,” he explained. “I entered seminary with the intention of only doing one year, and six years later, here I am about to be ordained a priest.”
Seminary gave him the silence he needed to deepen his relationship with God in prayer; it allowed him to find the best version of himself.
And it helped him grow into a man that wants only to bring people closer to God through His Church and the sacraments.
“My hope is that I will serve every single person I meet with a deep sense of humility and an infectious joy,” Gratton said. “I hope to emulate Christ in all things I do — no matter how short I will inevitably fall.”
As a priest, he looks forward to celebrating Mass and providing people with the Holy Eucharist. “I also look forward to meeting people where they are at — no matter if they are experiencing joy or sorrow, no matter how broken or lost they may feel, I hope to bring them closer to Christ’s Most Sacred Heart,” he said.
Gratton was in Rome when Pope Benedict abdicated the papacy, and he experienced the conclave and the new papacy under Pope Francis. Asked what influence both men have had on him, he replied, “When I began to fall in love with my faith in college, Pope Benedict was the Holy Father. During his papacy and my first years of seminary, the Church had become an easy target for persecutions tions via the mass media. The face of those persecutions, much of the time, was Pope Benedict. He was a quiet, learned man, who did not have a big personality, but I saw in him a steadiness and a willingness to suffer for the sake of his flock that I had seen in few people before. His perseverance throughout that difficult period was inspiring to me, and it instilled in me a great love for him.”
While Pope Benedict taught him how to be steadfast in all things, especially amidst suffering and the desire for holiness, it has been Pope Francis who has taken that steadfast heart and inspired him to enter into the world. “Pope Francis has been a model for one of my favorite phrases, ‘check your ego at the door.’ He is not afraid to spread the Gospel to anyone or in any circumstance,” Gratton said. “His love for Christ and His Church makes him fearless. It is this fearlessness that allows him to serve all people without his pride geing in the way, and it is his trust in God that allows him to radiate such a profound sense of joy.”
As he prepared for ordination, Gratton noted holy men who have joined him on the journey: St. Francis of Assisi (his Confirmation saint) and a model of simplicity and obedience; Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati who inspires him with his joy and love for the poor; St. Vincent de Paul, who was innovative and loved the poor; St. Isaac Jogues who exhibited fearlessness and a desire to spread the Gospel everywhere; and British-born Spanish Servant of God Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val y de Zulueta, an example of humility.
The people of the Diocese of Burlington have been supportive of Gratton throughout his seminary training. “The people of this diocese have truly become family to me, and the support they have shown me often brings me to tears,” he said. “I pray that God gives me the grace to lay down my life for all the people of this diocese, that over the course of my life, I might pay back even just a fraction of the love they have shown me already.”
Scott Gratton once gave God an ultimatum, and God showed him that the Catholic faith is the fullness of Truth, and soon Gratton will share that as a priest of Jesus Christ.
Article written by Cori Fugere Urban,
Vermont Catholic staff writer
Video Courtesy of: CatholicTV
My name is Curtis Miller and I am a seminarian for the Diocese of Burlington. This summer, I will be ordained a transitional deacon in preparation for ordination to the priesthood next year. I am entering my fourth and final year of theological studies at St. John’s Seminary in Boston. Before that, I completed my undergraduate studies at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Providence College in Rhode Island.
I was born in St. Johnsbury and lived in Lyndonville when I was younger, but have spent most of my life in Colchester. I attended the public schools in Colchester and was involved in the community there. I was also a member of the local Boy Scout troop and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. I continue to enjoy hiking and feel close to God in the midst of His Creation.
While growing up, my parents instilled the importance of the Faith to my sister and me through their example. Sunday Mass and religious education always took priority over other activities.
When I was younger, I did not give much thought to a priestly vocation. As I grew older, however, I caught glimpses of the life of the priest. As an altar server, I was able to see up close how my pastor had dedicated his life to serving God and the Church. I witnessed his reverence for the Holy Eucharist while celebrating Mass and his pastoral care for the people of the parish. Gradually, I felt the Lord inviting me to consider following this vocation myself. When I graduated from high school in 2008, I entered the seminary.
It has been a wonderful seven years of coming to know and love God more and serve the Church and her people. I’ve enjoyed my parish assignments in Castleton, Orwell, Williston, Richmond, and currently I am in Brattleboro. Striving to follow God’s will in my life has been a great adventure and I look forward to where it will lead me in the future, especially as I now begin my service as a deacon.
A vocation is nothing other than a call from God. But, a vocation is also something that is fragile and demands our attention. In an age of noise and confusion, it is difficult to HEAR HIS CALL - but it is not impossible. Here are three important steps to take that enable us to hear the voice of God and prepare us to respond with generosity:
There is no better place to begin to explore this call than the place where we are alone with God - where we talk to Him and He talks to us. In prayer we open our hearts so that He can direct all our thoughts actions and inspirations. Pray each and every day - at the beginning and end of the day, if possible. But also consider getting away to a seminary, retreat house or monastery for a weekend. These places of prayer will provide you with an atmosphere of quiet and peace that is necessary to have this important conversation.
2) Talk to someone.
No one can keep this question a secret forever. In fact, others may have already noticed some of these 'priestly qualities' and mentioned it to you. Maybe it was a family member, a friend or a priest and they are good people to listen to and ask for advice.
3) Speak with the Diocesan Director of Vocations.
Discernment is an important and difficult task and should not be attempted alone. Discerning a vocation will inevitably raise lots of questions – both spiritual and practical. Each Diocese appoints a Director of Vocations to help you find answers to these questions and develop a plan for the future.
DIRECTOR OF VOCATIONS
Rev. Jon-Daniel Schnobrich
802-658-6110, ext. 1300
With appreciation to those who have strengthened the mission of our diocese since the inception of the Bishop’s Fund Annual Appeal in 1958, your continued support is valued as we strive to meet this year’s goal of $2.95 million. It is imperative that we meet our goal to enable the diocese to expand existing ministries and initiate new ones. Please prayerfully consider making a pledge to the 2015 Bishop’s Fund Annual Appeal to ensure that our Catholic faith and it’s mission to share the gospel message are strengthened, witnessed to others, and will be embraced by future generations.
Saturday, July 11 at 10:00 a.m.
Burlington, VT 05401