Monsignor Harvey is parish priest of the City Centre parish in Southampton. Throughout his ministry he has held various different positions on behalf of the diocese and is currently the team leader for interreligious dialogue.
What were your misconceptions about Priesthood before discerning it?
I didn’t feel knowledgeable enough to be a priest. I didn’t feel I had the necessary abilities and that I probably was just not ‘holy’ enough.
Who inspired you on your journey?
A couple of priests I knew really ‘inspired’ me. One priest (no names) was so ‘bad’ in my eyes I even thought, arrogantly, ‘I could do better’!
My home environment helped inspire me as my family practised our faith and we talked about church issues, discussed homily’s, they were open about their views of parish life which led to a healthy discussion on all matters of faith.
They never told me that I should be a Priest but I was blessed with a family of what I’d describe as critical and simple faith.
What was your greatest worry when discerning your vocation?
That I wouldn’t be considered clever enough and that and that I wouldn’t meet the standards necessary.
I would say my life as a Priest is busier than I’d expected – especially now, in comparison with my early days of Priesthood. I think there is a danger that one can become cynical about ‘religion’ or ‘Church’ so you need to keep rooted.
I believe there are great ‘rewards’ that I didn’t anticipate – in that it is a privilege to see how the priesthood is so crucial to the lives of some people.
How has living your vocation brought you joy?
I have a great sense of satisfaction through my ministry. I have a peace, a sense of ‘this is right’ for me. There is immense ‘joy’ of being with people at important stages of life, especially baptism, marriage, ‘conversion’, and death. Being able to ‘make a difference’ to others when they are in most need.
The joy of being valued for who I am and what I do, and how I respond.
What have been the highlights of living out your vocation?
The highlights for me include the celebration of the Sacraments, especially Sunday Eucharist, Weddings and Funerals. However, the main highlight for me personally is the exceptional and incredible experience of celebrating the ‘Triduum’. It is very humbling to be told, maybe years & years later on, how I influenced/supported/made a difference to someone else -a life changing difference.
What would you say to someone else considering the Priesthood?
Firstly, well done for considering this possibility!
I’d advise them to be open to the process of discernment (‘listen’ to God in prayer, through others and through the Church). I would caution them not to be arrogant and see it as ‘my’ vocation. To be ‘broad’ in your approach so the vocation does not simply confirm your thinking.
I think the main thing is to pray and to read the scriptures.