Yes I have.
What were the circumstances when you felt that?
Looking back on my life, I had felt this way as far back as I can remember. I was baptized Catholic as an infant (not Chrismated or given First Eucharist as I was born where there was no Byzantine Ruthenian parish, my parents’ were going to fly me the (close to ) 1700 miles to have me baptized at St Nicholas in Clinton Twp in Michigan but the bishop told them that this was a hardship and he dispensed them to have me baptized in a local Roman parish) but I was raised with no faith formation so I did not know what this feeling I had was until I fully enter the Catholic Church on my own at the age of 33.
Did you think of acting on testing your vocation?
Yes I tested it. I am still testing it.
What happened in the end?
I entered into formation with the Carmelites and am currently in temporary vows in the internship phase of my formation program. I have 3 years of theology study and possibly one more year of internship (I find out this Friday) and my final vows before ordination to the priesthood (God willing).
And did that experience leave you with something “you wish you did?”
I am where I am supposed to be at this time so I can truly say no. I have thought that I would like to have gotten started sooner on this but I do not think I was ready for this when I was younger. Everything that occurred in my life happened for a reason.
Did it perhaps lead you into a lay ministry of some sort?
For me it lead me into religious life with the Carmelites.
Now I know many will as what a Byzantine Catholic is doing in a Roman religious order that does not have any Byzantine foundations though we do have a few bi-ritual priests.
The answer is a complex one. I did discern the secular priesthood and diaconate with the Byzantine Ruthenian Church. I met privately with the Metropolitan to discuss my vocation and then later followed up with his vocation director. For some reason they (the Metropolitan and the vocations director) got the impression I was not serious even though I went to Pittsburgh, PA, from Rochester, NY, for interviews with less than a one week notice. Then I applied to the Eparchy of Parma but there was an issue with my application (somehow they claimed that they had only received half of it) also the vocations director there did not seem very interested.
I also felt a call to active religious life. So after the above disappointments I decided to discern religious life. There really is not much active religious life in the Byzantine Church. The two groups I found were the Byzantine Redemptorists in Toronto and the Byzantine Franciscans in the US. The Franciscans are small and are now more parish priests rather than living in community and I got some advice from multiple sources that the Redemptorists would not fit for me.
I found that the Carmelite spirituality resonated with me though a bi-ritual priest who is my friend/mentor. IMHO the Carmelites are the most Eastern of the Western Orders. They were formed in the East.
Hope I didn’t ramble too much.