By KEVIN CHIRI
Tammany West news
COVINGTON – There is more than one way to fall in love, Father Gregory Boquet explained when asked about his decision to become a priest.
The president and rector who directs the large operation that is St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College on 1,200 acres of land north of Covington became a priest in 1982 at the age of 24.
Now 34 years into the priesthood, Boquet is overseeing the largest enrollment ever of young men who want to become priests. There are 138 students who began the spring semester at the Seminary College, up 84 percent from only five years ago when 75 students enrolled.
The decision to become a priest is not something to be taken lightly and Boquet simply smiles when asked the question about how a young man answers the question about living a celibate life.
“I was like most young men in high school,” Boquet said. “I liked girls. I dated, but I also knew from a young age that I wanted to live a religious life. My dad always knew I wanted to do something heroic or extraordinary with my life.”
Facing the question of celibacy to become a priest, Boquet said a young man must answer the question: “Is this my calling or is it God’s calling?”
He said that God showed him he was called to the ministry by allowing him to “fall in love with the lifestyle of a priest and the Benedictine lifestyle here.
“The priesthood allowed me to do a lot of different things to live a life of service to the community and that is what I wanted to do,” he said. “That is what I fell in love with—the lifestyle that is a priest. It feels like I am in a fraternity with other men who have the same goal.”
Boquet graduated from South Terrebonne High School in 1976 and grew up in a committed Catholic family. He connected with something “extraordinary” when his school made a trip to St. Joseph and he was introduced to Benedictine life.
Boquet, who has a twin brother, said he also believes God called him because he was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration when he was a child, something that makes him legally blind today although he can still see well enough to walk the campus with no one realizing he has the sight problem.
Boquet was ordained in 1988 and became the Assistant Dean of Students at the Seminary, then was promoted to several positions before becoming rector and president of the Seminary College and Abbey in 1998.