Sam Orsot, a seminarian from a family of nine in “Cajun Country,” is a third-year theology student at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He will be ordained for the Diocese of Lake Charles in 2018.
When did you know you wanted to be a priest?
One time when I was a 6-year-old boy and misbehaving at Mass, the priest asked me to sit up front. When I saw him consecrate the Eucharist up close, I wanted to do that, too. He told me, “You can’t do this on your own. God has to call you.”
As I got older I wasn’t sure about the priesthood. I wanted to marry and have a family. I went to college, but the pull toward the priesthood kept keeping me awake at night. I was in a tug-of-war with God. He was saying, “I have a plan for you,” and I was saying, “No, I am comfortable where I am.” Finally, I told Him I needed a sign.
Shortly afterwards my mother asked me to get a book for her. My parents had collected many religious books back when my oldest sister had leukemia and they drove her from Lake Charles to Houston for treatments. Next door to the hospital was a used bookstore, so they collected spiritual books there for the long car rides.
Inside the book she wanted, called Christian Holiness, was an ordination card from a priest, who had owned the book before. It had this quote from St. John Vianney: “One kneels in the consciousness of one’s nothingness and rises a priest forever.” I had my sign.
What do you like about the seminary?
We have a robust and diverse community of men from many places. I like allowing their cultures to influence me in my formation and for me to influence them. It is the perfect picture of the universal church. Also, we have fun. Last night we had a water balloon fight.
What are you looking forward to doing as a priest?
I want to help families. The breakdown of the family is critical now. Growing up, I was one of only four kids in our crowded neighborhood who had a father at home. I want to help married couples grow in their faith together and face their everyday challenges united. They can model that for their children. Families are where we learn how to interact with others. We need to make them strong.
How does Pope Francis inspire you?
He reminds us not to settle for just being average. He knows God is calling us to greatness, so he asks us to go out and push people to greatness, push people to be who they are meant to be and don’t be apologetic about it. Pope Francis is a bit of a troublemaker, but Jesus Christ was the ultimate troublemaker as he tried to get people to change.
Why is Catholic Extension support important to seminarians in your diocese?
We are a small diocese with 14 men studying for priesthood. It’s expensive for tuition, room and board. Catholic Extension helps not only in forming priests, but by contributing to a lifetime of development for our diocese.