Hello! My name is Conor Bopp, and I am from St. Peter parish. I attend Kenrick School of Theology, but this year I am taking a pastoral year at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish-Omaha. My father and mother are Dan and Lauren Bopp, and I have two older siblings: my brother, Daniel, and my sister, Shannon.
My siblings and I attended St. Cecilia’s grade school, after which I went on to Creighton Prep for high school. Prep was challenging for me, academically, but not so much that I couldn’t get into the college of my dreams, Thomas Aquinas College.
TAC was something of a Catholic immersion program for me: my family and previous schooling had provided a basic understanding and love for God and the Church, but at the College I was thrown headlong into studies of Augustine, Aquinas, and Aristotle; discussions on ethics, predestination, and the miraculous Sacraments; and, for the first time in my life, I could attend daily Mass, in either the Novus Ordo or Tridentine forms. All of this disposed me toward hearing God’s call in my junior year. Unfortunately, I didn’t act on my calling, preferring to date until the end of senior year; but the seed had been planted in my soul.
College had deepened my love of learning, so I moved to Phoenix during the fall of 2012 to work as an assistant teacher in a public charter school, with my hopes toward a distant professorship in philosophy. It was like culture shock: to move from a Catholic institution, where every day was ordered toward love of God and living out my faith; to work at a job that took religion as secondary to education and a topic to be tactfully avoided in the classroom; it required some adjustment on my part.
I prayed for God to show me how to preach without words, but “there came in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was wearied, not being able to bear it.” (Jer 20:9) The desire to speak my faith was persistent, but it wasn’t until I went from Confession to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament that I was filled with joy and peace, and I knew that God doesn’t want only my words and deeds, but my entire life. I left Phoenix at the end of the semester to apply for the seminary, a process that I started as soon as possible.
My advice to anyone discerning a vocation, whether it be religious, married, or single life, is this: trust in the Lord. His patience, love, and wisdom are infinite, and His plan for you, though it may seem slow to unfold, is greater and more beautiful than anything you can imagine, and He will win out over any discouragements the Devil throws at you. Attend frequent Confession and Mass, and allow God to make you His good and faithful servant.