Sophomore Nick Breese attributes the beginnings of his faith life and his pursuit of joy for himself and others to his parents and older sister, with whom he would pray both day and night. During the day, the family would pray the Angelus together, and at night, each sibling would lead a portion of night prayers.
“I remember waking up sometimes as a child and going to [my parents], and I would find them praying together … They got us involved with religious education and all of that, but for me, what really set it in my heart over just family traditions, what really made it my own, was going to camp,” Breesesaid.
Breese attended The Pines Catholic Camp throughout his childhood, which fostered growth in his faith and provided him with a community that pushed him towards holiness.
“My first two years were good, but it was really the third year when I started to see the Catholic community in the relationships I was making at that time and experiencing that great communal prayer, because that’s what The Church is,” Breese said.
“The Church is a community, and you go back and read Acts of the Apostles, and you read about the early church community, and they all lived together, and they all broke bread together.”
He recounted an anecdote to illustrate that image from his childhood.
“My version was sitting at a table and playing jenga with sausages until our counselors would come back with pitchers of fruit punch,” Breese said. “[The community] was what really set the foundation for my faith and made me want to make it my own.”
While working as a CIT (counselor-in-training), a special program The Pines offers for rising seniors in high school, Breese first felt a calling to discern vocations through the seminary.
His counselor, Dallas seminarian Alex Fry, asked the CITs why they were out at camp that summer.
“I said I wanted to bring joy to others and [that] I could see myself doing that through this ministry because it was through my counselors prior that I found joy in the faith,” Breese said.
A few nights into that week, he stood with the campers in his cabin in adoration before the monstrance and felt a great sense of joy come over him.
Breese remembers looking upon Jesus and thinking,“the great sense of joy I feel is because there is a man who has taken on this vocation and allowed himself to be a bridge between heaven and earth, between God and man. Because that man has allowed himself to be a bridge, I am able to experience joy from Jesus in this moment.”
Upon returning home, he called the diocesan vocations director, Fr. Edwin Leonard, to speak with him about the discernment process.
Now, Breese currently attends Holy Trinity Seminary and is in the process of discerning God’s will for his life. In addition, he assists with the youth ministry at Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in the Diocese of Dallas. Breese and two other sophomore seminarians attend every week, and each leads small groups. Breese recalls his experiences of small groups as a camper at The Pines for guidance in this ministry.
“I very much remember the vulnerability [my counselors] had with [us] as well as the shift of seeing how joyful in the faith they were throughout the day and then how real they got at night,” he said.
“That’s really what I always try to model myself after: being joyful and especially trying to have a child-like faith, but especially wanting to spread joy to others, but then also being able to enter into deeper conversation, being vulnerable with others, and trying to work out life with others,” Breese added.
In the past, Breese saw childlike faith as a sort of immaturity, but his opinion has shifted during his time in seminary. “As time has gone on and [I’ve continued] working with my formator, I’ve seen it less as being immature, and more as coming into myself and coming to know myself.”
He laughed as he recounted the time the formators had taken away his Heelys. “I have really started to embrace both the childlike faith and knowing that when I became a man, I put away childish things and lived as a man,” Breese said. “The childlike faith does not mean to live as a child in all ways.”
“It means more [that] we should live strong, but see God as the Father as He provides all, and we need to be able to trust Him in all things,” Breese added. “That trust needs to be worked on, and it’s about developing that trust with God so you can trust Him in all things, and like a child, throw your arms out and expect Him to catch you.”