Father Samuel Edward Good Miller
Parochial Vicar, Good Shepherd Parish, Camp Hill
From St. James Parish in Lititz
Warwick School District
St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Mount St. Mary’s Seminary
When did you first hear or consider the call to be a priest?
I hadn’t paid really any attention to a call to the priesthood until I was in high school, because that is when I started taking my Catholic faith seriously. The youth group took a trip to a Steubenville conference in Atlanta, where we were exposed to a group of people very much on fire with their faith. It was something I had never seen before. Being cradle Catholic, you get used to going through the motions, but these people were in love with their faith and on fire with being Catholic. It was something I never thought I’d want, but it made me realize I want that! I started in my senior year really taking it seriously, and then I thought, “Ok, now it’s time to figure out what I want to do. Do I go to college? Maybe I start thinking about priesthood.”
I had looked back through my life at a couple signs. I was an altar server at St. James growing up, and we wore black cassocks. One day, I was wearing a white shirt underneath and I pulled the cassock up to see what I would look life if I was wearing a collar. Even when I was kind of lukewarm in my faith, I always wanted to serve well. It was one of those indicators that pointed me toward priesthood.
I didn’t know anything about seminary, so senior year I got in touch with the Vocations Director at the time and he and I met to discuss if I had a possible vocation. He was very positive and confident that I might be called to the priesthood, so he talked to me about what seminary was like. I went with him and a couple guys in the Diocesan van down to St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia, which really helped. Seminary was a big unknown for me. I didn’t really know what seminary life was like. I thought they lived like monks, with no electricity, early wake-up, prayer and Mass all day. Once I saw what seminary life was like, I realized it was a lot like college with a theological bent, and something I could do.
We did elementary school visits as seminarians, and it’s one of the things I’d always bring up with the kids. I’d ask them to give me their idea of what seminary life is like. I’d ask them what they think our schedule is like, if we have any fun at all. It’s always great to tell them that we have things for recreation, and it’s not just work all day long.
The seminary visit we did opened my eyes. They have TVs in their own rooms, and time to study, relax, watch a game on TV. It’s common with a lot of young people that they don’t really know what goes on. For that reason, too, the Quo Vadis Days retreat in the summer offers a helpful look at seminary life. It is doable.
How has the support you’ve received from the people of the Diocese enabled you to focus on your formation for the priesthood?
The support is critical, and it has taught me to be grateful and responsible. One of the guys who graduated ahead of me said it well: When you realize you have people at your back who are supporting you through seminary, it motivates you to do your best for them. They’re taking their hard-earned money and giving it to the Diocese to support us, so that we can in turn serve them as priests. Their support financially is a motivating factor for me…. You have all these people supporting you, and you’ve got to do your best for them.
Your ordination was less than a year after the Grand Jury Report on sexual abuse by clergy. What impact has this had on your formation and desire to become a priest?
The world has seen, very clearly, the horrible things that priests have done. It has made me want to be the best priest I can be – not in a proud way to show the world that there are good priests, because all people have to do is look around to see good priests. I just want to join into that chorus of those guys who are doing all the hard work, to continue to build up a good image of the priest. The sanctity of the priest passes on to the people. A holy priest influences his people, and it makes us work that much harder to be good and holy.