Q&A With Seminarian Andrew J. Hamilton
On May 21, Bishop Larry J. Kulick will ordain Andrew J. Hamilton a Deacon in the Diocese of Greensburg. The ordination ceremony will be held at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, Greensburg. Hamilton is a native of Ford City, where his home parish is Christ, Prince of Peace Parish. He is the son of William and Donna Hamilton and the brother of Kathryn (Hamilton) Valasek. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Gannon University, Erie, and is currently studying at Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe.
Did you have a job prior to entering the seminary?
I entered seminary while attending college but worked throughout my high school years as a dishwasher, golf course starter and ranger, banquet server, and cashier at Riverside Grocery Store in Ford City. My father always told me to start out in a humble job and build appreciation for work; being a dishwasher did that for me.
Tell us about some of your hobbies.
I enjoy spending time outdoors and working on projects. A recent joy of mine has been working on and operating a 1948 Ford tractor that I bought with my father. I find that I have a lack of knowledge in mechanical wherewithal that I’m still seeking to address. Further, I have always been a sportsman since I was young, hunting with my father, especially being drawn to less modern forms of hunting such as archery and flintlock. I love to go hiking and have done some hiking in Colorado and New Mexico in the past. Also, I enjoy reading classical literature.
Tell us your vocation story.
My reversion to the Catholic faith is pivotal in telling my vocation story. The Catholic faith was what I grew up with, but I did not have a desire to practice it or seek greater understanding of its principles. As I went off to college, I began to ask a lot of philosophical questions about the purpose of life and my place in the universe.
Overall, my initial conversion of heart was based on an intellectual understanding of the faith in which I saw that God is the only answer in the face of the absurdity of a universe that has no purpose or origin. A God whose nature is love finally made sense to me and I realized that I would not exist if not for God wanting to will me into existence to share in His divine life. I studied with intensity many famous atheistic and agnostic philosophers, who came to the same problem, if no God, then no redemption, so why continue to suffer if it is not redeemed in the cross of Christ?
Nonetheless, I came back to the sacraments by an invitation of other young people at Saint Vincent College who practiced their faith with intention. An image that spurred me to greater conversion was that of Christ knocking at a closed door. The exact painting is William Holman Hunt’s “Jesus Christ Light of the World,” in which I realized the locks of the door are on the inside, not on the outside of the door. Thus, Jesus respected my freedom and was waiting for me to unlock the door so that He truly could guide and direct my life. Only then could I finally start to understand a call from God to use the fervor for my newly found faith to inspire others to not overlook the riches of understanding the Catholic intellectual tradition and accepting the need for Jesus’ redemption.
The next logical step of a young man full of zeal was to do something radical, which is to think about being a priest, who shares in a special way the redemptive mission of Christ. After touring a minor seminary on a whim, I realized that I could study to be a priest. Surely, it was a sacrifice to leave my comfortable surrounding of Saint Vincent College, which I had just become content with, but a question consistently popped into my head, “If not me, then who?” Catholic men have a duty to think about priesthood and the role of sacraments in the spiritual life. Our religion is one that is based around the Eucharist and so far, as it has been revealed, we only have access to the Eucharist through the ordained priesthood. I encourage other men to ask, “If not me than who will bring the Eucharist to God’s people in need?”