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Ben JohnsonParish: Most Blessed Sacrament Parish, Oshkosh
Birth Date: June 22
Seminary: Mundelein Seminary
Address:
1000 E Maple Avenue
Mundelein IL 60060-1967

Theology IV

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Intercessor: St. Joseph, because he is a perfect model of fatherhood, particularly in his receptivity and cooperation with grace. If I can one day be 10% the father that he was, then I will be well on the road to sainthood!

What is your baptismal day and in which church?
 I was baptized October 10, 1993, at St. Raphael The Archangel Church in Oshkosh.

What is your favorite devotional and why?
I am a big fan of the Jesus Prayer, one of the oldest devotions in the church that can be traced back even to the Desert Fathers in the fifth century. I love it for its simplicity, its strength and how it is integrated into your very breath: on your inhale, you pray “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God…” and on the exhale, “… have mercy on me, a sinner.” Formally, this can be repeated 33 or 100 times, but there are no strict rules, and I occasionally find myself recalling this prayer when I pause to take a breath.

What was one misconception you had about seminary and how did that change?
Before I entered seminary, I was afraid that I would have to say goodbye to many things in my life and radically change myself to become what God needed me to be. And while there have certainly been some sacrifices, I was humbly overjoyed to find that God did not want me to try to become some carbon copy priest. He simply wanted me, with quirks intact, to become who he has already designed me to be. Because of my seminary formation, I feel more true to my self and my God than ever before, and I am so very happy my fears were proved false.

What would your life be like without a cellphone?
This is hard to answer. For sure, it would be very different. On the positive side, I would probably be more present to the present moment and not be distracted by the steady flow of notifications that come in throughout the day. On the negative side, this would mean my only option for long-distance communication would be traditional mail. Planning events and meetups with friends would be much more difficult and less likely to happen, and I would be hopelessly lost without navigation. There is no question that cellphones are powerful tools for us, but I also do not believe many of us (myself certainly included) truly use them for our mission to spread the Gospel and proclaim the Kingdom. Many times, I have wondered, “How would Thomas Aquinas, who walked countless miles during his life just for his research, use this device?”

What is the funniest thing that happened to you in formation thus far?
One time, I was visiting a friend of mine on the third floor. Now, for context, this section of the seminary residence is notorious for being loud and rowdy. I opened the door to the hallway and not even two steps in, a golf ball whizzes past my head. I look down the corridor and see another classmate at the end of the hall, chipping away at golf balls. “Hey watch it, that almost killed me!” I shouted. “Almost,” he responded, with an almost diabolical chuckle, as he resumed chipping golf balls. While evading the incoming enemy fire, I dash forward to my friend’s room and barged in seeking shelter. The experience was terrifying, but amusing.

Who or what was the greatest influence in your discernment of the priesthood?
The award for this one goes to my spiritual director, who has been a constant source of support, clarity and advice for the past three years. Whether I am on cloud nine, or I feel as if the world is going insane, his direction has kept me centered on Christ.

What does it mean to be a missionary disciple?
To be a missionary disciple is to take the goodness that you have received and share it with the world. It is a spontaneous movement that occurs when one has truly received Christ in word and sacrament. A similar, though insufficient comparison, would be when someone has won the lottery. They immediately feel a strong impetus to share this news with loved ones, so that they might rejoice with them.