The Society of Mary has one new seminarian this year, 23-year-old Lachie Bartlett from Christchurch.
Mr Bartlett told NZ Catholic that his discernment was “sort of a feeling that grew within me”.
“The way that I would sum up my faith would be — God speaks to us through the people and events of our lives. That is like the lynchpin of my faith,” he said. Mr Bartlett, who went to St Bede’s College, said he had a very good relationship with priests growing up. His parents would often host priests and those active in the parish for dinner.
At St Bede’s, he got involved with the Young Marists, a youth development organisation, working with the leadership teams of the nine Marist schools in the country. He also did the Young Marist Neighbours programme.
Mr Bartlett said that he also formed a solid friendship with Fr Mark Walls, SM, and his (Fr Mark’s) older brother, Fr John.
“Long relationship[s] with priests meant for me that it wasn’t a vocation that was different. It was a genuine possibility. It has sort of been a five-year process of developing relationships with people within the Society of Mary, [and] discerning that
this could be a way of life that I could pursue,” he said. “It’s been like a sort of long bubbling process.
Mr Bartlett sees himself as a future priest who would be people-orientated.
“I’ll be someone that’s relationship-focussed, working with people, hearing their stories and getting to know their experiences,” he said.
He was born deaf, and he received his cochlear implant when he was 8.
“I think my ability to overcome challenges and see challenges as gifts helps me relate to people from all sorts of spheres of life. There is an awareness of cochlear implants, and people with disabilities, and giving them greater support that they need,” he said.
Mr Bartlett finished his law degree at the University of Canterbury, and will be graduating on April 14.
“My law degree is a good way of thinking. I loved my law degree at Canterbury. I loved the friends I made there. I sort of loved studying law, but this is part of my life that I need to sort of pursue,” he said.
Mr Bartlett said his family has been “incredibly supportive”.
“‘Shocked, but not surprised’ were words used by my brother the most,” he said. “The underlying theme is that they want me to be happy in whatever I do.”