Jonathan Amgott

Propaedeutic Year
Mount St. Mary's Seminary
Duke University, University of Virginia School of Law
St. Charles Borromeo Parish  

What did you do prior to entering seminary?

As a lawyer for nearly eight years, I worked for a law firm, federal trial and appellate judges, and the U.S. Department of Justice. In the last job, my litigation responsibilities included research, writing, negotiating, and speaking in court.

My favorite aspect of legal work was collaborating with terrific colleagues. And in a couple of workplaces, I particularly enjoyed leading small prayer groups attended by coworkers.

What influenced your decision to apply for seminary entrance?

For over a decade, I repeatedly experienced a desire to consider the priesthood, and I made a couple of visits to seminaries, but each time it didn't seem like the right fit for different reasons.

That changed after a surprising experience of evangelization, which sparked a burning desire to consider this path again, more seriously. I prayed about it often; discussed it with my spiritual director, vocations director, other priests, seminarians, friends, and family; read a discernment book; attended an ordination; and visited a seminary again. This time, God granted me peace and joy with moving forward.   

Why do you want to be a priest?

People are so hungry for meaning, for healing, and for love, yet they often look for these things in the wrong places. I am firmly convinced that true peace is found in the redeeming love of our God alone. So I want to win new hearts to Jesus and to draw all hearts ever closer to His. Men and women in every vocation can do this, but priests do so in a uniquely important way, full time.

What are your favorite pastimes?

In addition to spending time with family and friends, I like building further community by giving people the opportunity to make new friends with fellow parishioners, neighbors, or coworkers, for example over a meal or game night.

I have always enjoyed running, and lately I have branched out into mini triathlons.  There's nothing like the exhilaration (and exhaustion) of swimming, biking, then running!

My experience acting in plays growing up spurred me to develop a couple of one-act plays. I have enjoyed producing them with friends and coworkers in backyards, at dinner parties, and even on the National Mall! 

What is your favorite quote?

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7.

Who is your favorite Saint and why?

It's hard to pick one!  I adopted St. Thomas More as a patron for my legal career, seeking his intercession for good judgment. But lately, my Confirmation saint, St. Peter, is steadily growing in significance in my life as the Gospel passages about his response to Jesus's call resonate more deeply with me.

In recent years I have also experienced great joy meditating on the witnesses of St. Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist; St. Mary Magdalene; and St. Therese of Lisieux.  Each of these women demonstrated such joy as they encountered the Lord in different ways.

What advice would you give to a young person thinking about their vocation?

As Fr. Brett Brannen says in To Save a Thousand Souls, “God can't drive a parked car.” Try moving towards a vocation, and God will steer you in the right direction. For example, if you're considering the diocesan priesthood, contact a vocations director and visit a seminary.   

As you explore a vocation, bring your heart to God in prayer.  If you experience peace and joy as you prayerfully reflect on what you're doing, keep exploring that option!  If instead you experience uneasiness or dryness, maybe consider a different option.  In God's time, He will point the way!

Are there are any other facts about you that people might find interesting?

Although I have been a lifelong Catholic, part of my family is Jewish, and I attended an Episcopal school for fifteen years. By witnessing these other faith traditions while at the same time learning about my Catholic faith, I grew in understanding of the beautiful fulness of our relationship with God in the Catholic Church.