Tom Robertson follows the Holy Spirit to the seminary and to Kraków

Kelly Seegers for the Catholic Standard

For Tom Robertson, who is studying for the priesthood at the Saint John Paul II Seminary, going to World Youth Day in Kraków is an opportunity to witness the Holy Spirit in action.

“It is a pretty incredible statement…to have this many people from so many places in the world,” Robertson said. “The Holy Spirit becomes visible, and it becomes visible in such a youthful group.”

Robertson grew up attending Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, where he remembers experiencing the work of the Holy Spirit. He specifically remembers when he was an altar server, looking into the church from the outside hallway during the Easter Vigil, and seeing everyone holding candles in the dark amidst the special readings and music.

“Every year I got to sit out there as a server, I got to visibly see the very real Holy Spirit” in action, he said.

Robertson attended the University of Delaware, where he earned a degree in finance, although he began as a fine arts major. He recalls struggling with his faith during college.

“I really didn’t have any sense of Catholic identity,” Robertson said. “Depending on the day, I wouldn’t even think about God. I would just think about what’s on Netflix.”

When he came home for Thanksgiving his senior year, Robertson’s mom asked him to go to Mass with her, but he showed up late, so he found himself back in that outside hallway of Our Lady of Mercy, looking into the church.

“I could see it again,” he said, referring to the Holy Spirit. “I left that day with this gnawing feeling in my stomach that I had to do something about it.”

So instead of taking a job in finance after he graduated in 2015, he returned to the Archdiocese of Washington and entered the seminary.

“I fell in love is what happened,” said Robertson. “I fell in love with the Mass, with the Eucharist.”

This summer, Robertson is serving at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg. He plans to have intention cards put in the bulletin, so parishioners can fill out their intentions, and he can pray for them during his pilgrimage.

“I pray that as we go as pilgrims, we sacrifice and really put ourselves out there and see if we can find something along the way that can guide us, or bring something back to help somebody here,” Robertson said.