Wedding led the way to personal relationship with Christ

| May 25, 2011 | 0 Comments

Deacon Lannan

Deacon James Lannan baptizes Page Erickson at St. Stephen in Anoka Aug. 10, 2010. The infant is being held by her mother, Shelley Scofield. At right is Rick Erickson, the baby’s father. Photo by Dave Hrbacek / The Catholic Spirit

Deacon James Lannan’s path to the priesthood began in an unlikely place: at a wedding.

While serving as best man in 2003, Deacon Lannan said in an email interview: “I asked [God]: ‘Do you want me to get married and start a family? Is my current career and lifestyle what you desire for me? What is the benchmark of success and happiness in this life?’”

An adviser and partner in the Hamilton & Easom Retirement Planning Group at Citigroup Smith Barney, Deacon Lannan was part of a group that managed individual retirement investments.

“By the age of only 27, I experienced great success by corporate standards,” he said. “Yet, the taste of that life did not provide any fulfillment. I desired something peacefully permanent.”

Deacon Lannan realized that what was missing from his life was a personal relationship with God.

“I believe the Lord used this moment to begin a slow and gradual series of major changes in both my lifestyle and relationship with Christ,” he said. “This experience [at the wedding] was the catalyst for my spiritual conversion and eventual discernment for the priesthood.”

The invitation

For two years, Deacon Lannan met almost every Saturday for spiritual direction with a priest. During those meetings, the two of them formed his spiritual history. For the first time in Deacon Lannan’s life, he considered if God was calling him to the priesthood. He then entered seminary to further discern his vocation.

The more he prayed about it in seminary, the more his vocation came into focus. “Discerning Jesus hidden in the shadow of my desires helped me grow in self-knowledge and understanding divine providence in my life,” he said.

Deacon Lannan said he had support along the way. “Whenever I experienced doubt, I spent time working alongside [the Missionaries of Charity in the Twin Cities] in their apostolic works of mercy, and my confidence grew,” he said. “Their witness of authentic Marian joy and chaste love was the model Christ chose for me to learn from as I discerned my vocation.”

Christopher Thompson, academic dean at the St. Paul Seminary, and Father Peter Laird, archdiocesan vicar general and previous vice rector at the seminary, also positively influenced Deacon Lannan as he discerned his vocation, he said.

Deacon Lannan said he looks forward to celebrating the sacraments when he is a priest. As a transitional deacon, he baptized 25 babies at St. Stephen in Anoka. “You really connect with the people during such an important time in the spiritual life of the child and the family,” he said of the experience.

While he is open to wherever God leads him, Deacon Lannan said he would enjoy teaching if given the opportunity.

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Category: Ordinations