Previously I had posted on identical twins Gary and Todd Koenigsknecht who are entering St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul, Minn. Via The World .. IMHO is a story about James and Joseph Cambell who are identical twins and were ordained together as priests on Jun 23rd.
Deacons James and Joseph Campbell—twin brothers who will be ordained at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie along with their classmate, Deacon Marc Solomon, on Friday, June 23—hope to be up to the challenge. “We have to enkindle the fire of Christ’s love in the hearts of his people,” says James. The youngest in a family of 13 children, the brothers credit their family life for their priestly vocations. “My parents gave us an unwavering witness of selfless, self-sacrificing love and fidelity,” says Joseph. “They inspired us to be holy by the witness of their lives and through their instruction in the faith.” FAITH magazine is pleased to introduce readers to the Campbells after an in-depth conversation which has been taking place throughout the last year of their preparation for the priesthood. An interview with Deacon Marc Solomon follows the story.
Meet Deacon Marc Solomon
“I asked God to help me get
closer to him…”
Deacon Marc Solomon remembers a few moments from his childhood when the idea of becoming a priest crossed his mind. Someone suggested it to him once when he was in elementary school. In middle school, the Scripture passages in which Jesus calls the apostles intrigued him. While he was in high school, his godfather told him he’d make a good priest.
Deacon Marc Solomon, left, and Deacon James Campbell, right, assist Bishop Donald Trautman during the ordination of Bill Barron and Justin Pino, who became transitional deacons for the Erie Diocese on April 29.
But it wasn’t until he was in college that Marc began to seriously consider that he might have a calling to the priesthood. “One day in my junior year, I really started reflecting on the purpose of my life,” he says. “I asked God to help me get closer to him and to understand what he was expecting of me. That was the beginning of my real discernment.” He considered religious life as a Franciscan brother or priest after graduation, but spent the next three years as a substitute teacher. It was during this time he had the opportunity to experience the sacrament of reconciliation with Bishop Trautman, who was visiting his home parish of St. Francis in Clearfield. “I was really looking for signs at that point, and after confession Bishop Trautman asked me if I had ever considered the priesthood,” he says with a smile. “He told me if I was being called, the thought would never leave my mind, and that has been the case.”
After a year and a half of classes at Gannon, Marc has spent the last four years of study at St. Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore. Summers have been spent in parishes in Curwensville and Grampian. Marc has experienced tremendous love and acceptance from his family and from members of the parishes in which he has served. His advice to young men and women who think they may have a calling to the priesthood or religious life? “Honestly, they need to begin to talk to Jesus Christ who is so present in their lives,” he advises. “They need that relationship in order to hear his voice. I think the number one way is silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.”
The twins’ parents, John and Dolores Campbell, don’t consider the way they reared their 13 children to be anything out of the ordinary. “We raised our children the way we were brought up,” says John, the lingering trace of a brogue from his native Scotland still evident in his words. That included attending Mass each morning and saying the rosary together each evening. “Once the children got involved in sports, sometimes they would have to finish their rosary on the way to practice,” says Dolores. “But we’d start it out together. I think that has really blessed our marriage and family life.” The entire family lived together under one roof for the first 11 years of the twins’ lives. “We had seven kids sleeping in one room at one time,” remembers James. “Let’s just say we didn’t get much sleep during those years.” (Apparently brothers Paul and Andrew had quite the reputation for their comedy routines.) But the close-knit clan wouldn’t have had it any other way. “Christmas was bedlam, absolute bedlam!” John recalls. “But it was so memorable. The children’s friends all wanted to come and be with us on Christmas Eve because the atmosphere was so much fun.” It was the kind of atmosphere in which guests were a regular part of the dinnertime routine, in which a grandfather was lovingly cared for during the last ten years of his life and in which a young, single mom unrelated to the family found the help she needed raising her child until she managed to get through high school. “When you’re cooking for so many, what’s an extra person?” Dolores asks
Some may also be aware that the twin sons of Catholic apologist Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio have also entered the seminary this year.