Seminarian Spotlight: Aidan Toombs

Seminarian Aiden Toombs stopped by for a photo on his way through Helena in Summer of 2017

By Cody Tredik

In the opening verses of chapter 20 of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of an estate manager who hires workers for his vineyard at 9 a.m. and at 5 p.m.

“I’m the 5 o’clock vocation,” joked Aidan Toombs, a seminarian for the Diocese of Helena. At 54 years old, Aidan has walked a beautiful path of conversion and discernment. Currently in his first year of Theology, Aidan is studying at Pope St. John XXIII Seminary for late vocations.

Aidan grew up in Seattle in a secular family. It wasn’t until he attended Catholic school that he began to feel a calling to the Church. “I was 12 years old when I had my first experience of the Mass. I was profoundly struck by that and, most importantly, the Eucharist, but at the time I wasn’t sure how. Looking back it is so easy to see that I didn’t go looking for Jesus, He came looking for me.”

Upon this experience of the Eucharist, he approached his mother with a desire to convert. “She said, ‘let’s wait and see’.” His next major call came while he was a graduate student and research scientist at the University of Arkansas.

“That time was one of great turmoil and anxiety for me. I remember one day out of desperation picking up the Gospel of Matthew and reading ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest…For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ For me it was like the scales fell off of my eyes as they did for St. Paul. I saw that the Lord was there, and calling me.”

Two years later, Aidan enrolled in RCIA to learn more about the faith. “I was led to the Catholic Church by the Eucharist, and by Easter I was hooked.” On a Marian retreat after that Easter, the first call to the priestly vocation came.

“At this retreat, for the first time I felt the call to follow Him in a radical and different way. At this time I was in my late 30’s, and so it took some time for me to continue to discern this with spiritual direction and lots of prayer.”

Now a member of the Church, Aidan continued to discern his vocation. He eventually spent some time at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico. He met and befriended Dana Ciallella, of Anaconda, an Oblate of St. Benedict. Ciallella’s friendship helped lead to Aiden discerning priesthood for the Diocese of Helena. His journey with our diocese continues through prayer and formation as he looks forward to ordination and service in Montana.