Getting to know priests when he was growing up helped Kevin Ewing discern his own vocation
Kevin Ewing always knew he wanted to serve people, and growing up at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Hydes, he had plenty of opportunities to get to know the priesthood on a very human level. Ultimately, this led him to seminary, where he hopes to be ordained a transitional deacon in May 2016. He completed 3rd-Year Theology in the Spring of 2015, and is currently serving his pastoral year at St. John the Evangelist in Severna Park.
Ewing was an altar server and later a sacristan at St. John’s, so he got to know priests like Fr. William Franken and Bishop William C. Newman. It was relationships like these that gave Ewing an opportunity to know what it was really like to be a priest.
“I have a very close relationship with Bishop Newman now, just because of our friendship together,” Ewing said. “He was a real role model for me. We talked about ordinary things—we both went to Calvert Hall High School—and he pulled back the veil from the priesthood and made it seem less mysterious, more accessible. I learned about what he was doing when he was at the altar saying Mass, and maybe more importantly, I learned what he did when he wasn’t saying Mass.”
Ewing learned this lesson on a much larger scale when, under the encouragement of Fr. Franken, he attended a summer barbecue with the priests and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
“We prayed evening prayer together, and it was probably my first experience with that,” Ewing said. “We had a nice meal and we had the opportunity to socialize. There were so many different people of so many different backgrounds, and to see that God called each one of these people from different lifestyles to come serve Him in his Church, it opened up the possibility that He could call me, even in my lowliness. Even I could make a difference. These seminarians were just normal guys who were actively seeking out what the Lord was calling them to do. That was really important in opening the door for me.”
Though the thoughts of the priesthood remained with Ewing after high school graduation, he set his aim on the medical field. He still wanted to help people, but he began studying biology at the University of Maryland with the goal of becoming a doctor. Later, he switched his area of study to psychology.
Meanwhile he had a growing friendship with a recently-ordained priest named Fr. Kyle Ingels, the chaplain at the University of Maryland, and thoughts of a priestly vocation came back to the forefront.
“He helped me to realize that God was calling me to help heal people spiritually, not physically,” Ewing said. “He lit a fire under me and helped me get off the fence about it.”
Through the Archdiocesan College Candidate program, Ewing graduated with a degree in Psychology, and enrolled at St. Mary’s Seminary, where his discernment continues.
“It is a constant opportunity to renew your relationship with God and to strengthen it,” he said. “It’s one of those misconceptions that if you enter seminary, you’re locked in for life. That’s not the case at all. A priest once told me that every young man should at least consider the possibility of seminary because, if for no other reason, it helps you be a better person. You’ve given the opportunity back to God. If the door to the priesthood closes, you haven’t closed it by yourself.”