He was amazed when an acquaintance told him he had a vocation


Father Patrick K. Curley

Father Patrick K. Curley said that he never gave priesthood a thought until he was 25, working for an investment firm and unhappy with his job. He was taking a class in calculus at a community college, and a classmate suggested that they work on an assignment together. The man was a devout Catholic who had briefly been a seminarian.

"We got into a long conversation, and I started opening up to him a little," Father Curley said. "After we talked for a couple of hours, he said, 'You're going to be a priest.' I said, 'What are you talking about? I don't even go to church. I'm not sure I believe what the Church teaches.' " They had more conversations about religion, and the man encouraged him to go to Mass on Sundays and to confession at least once a month.

"He said, 'When you start doing the right things in life, things just fall into place,' '' Father Curley recalled. He returned to Mass and the sacraments. "From there I started slowly," he said, "two steps forward, one and a half steps back."

Father Curley, 37, is the son of Mary Carol Curley of Mamaroneck and the late Patrick G. Curley. Born in the Bronx, he grew up in Larchmont and belonged to SS. John and Paul parish there. He earned a degree in history at SUNY College at Oswego, worked at Merrill Lynch and at Smith Barney, and earned two licenses to trade securities.

But he knew he wasn't in the right place, and he decided to test his vocation.

"I figured I'd roll the dice, check it out for a year, go to the Neumann program," he said. It was difficult but he hung on.

He spent the following summer in a parish in Northern Ireland-all his grandparents were Irish-born-and a week before he left, the parish priest took him on a tour of Ireland. He was having doubts about continuing seminary studies, and at the shrine of Our Lady of Knock, he asked for a sign.

Before he could enter St. Joseph's Seminary he needed to buy clothing and other items totaling about $1,500-"a real investment," Father Curley remarked. Shortly before he left Ireland, the priest handed him an envelope and said, "This is for you. I insist that you take it." It held almost $1,500.

Back home, he entered the seminary. "I started feeling more comfortable," he said. He sees a purpose in the tough times he weathered.

"I feel like I've been faithful to the call God has given me, and I feel that there needed to be some suffering, and removing things out of my life," he said. "I needed to be tried in the crucible, I needed to be stretched in order to grow."

Reflecting on priesthood, he remarked, "Everything that the Church teaches I believe to be the truth. That gives me tremendous confidence and satisfaction. I know that what I'm saying is from God, and I know that's what people need in life. That's what their hearts are craving...It brings me joy to know that maybe I can lead people home."

First Mass: SS. John and Paul Church, Larchmont, Sunday, May 11, noon.
Homilist: Father James T. O'Connor, pastor of St. Joseph's in Millbrook.