Guided by Faith: Diocese of Youngstown Seminarian Travis Seagraves

Howland native and seminarian Travis Seagraves was raised a Southern Baptist. During his college years he converted to Catholicism and felt a call towards priesthood. After six years of growth in the seminary, Seagraves will be ordained as a Transitional Deacon May 25th at Saint Columba Cathedral.

Seagraves can still recall reading Saint John Henry Newman’s Essay “On Development of Christian Doctrine.” At that moment, feeling the need to convert from Southern Baptist to Catholicism. 

So putting any hesitation and trepidation behind him, the Ohio State University graduate and history major, attended a Catholic mass with his twin brother Troy at Saint Andrews Church in Upper Arlington. It was a moment that defined his path forward in the church. 

“It was all Saints Day, so they pulled out all the smells and bells, we take the back pew and i’m just like, this is amazing. All that literature, all that research I had done, because I’m a history guy, I like my footnotes. It really just slapped me in the face and is like good God I have to do this,” says Seagraves. 

Seagraves joined RCIA shortly after and began the process of becoming catholic. During that time he also debated becoming a priest, or minister of some sort. In 2018, Seagraves, a Howland High School graduate, joined Saint Mary Seminary in Wickliffe–where he’s spent the past six years balancing a range of emotions, a roller coaster journey in faith. 

“When you’re dedicated to a regiment of prayer and sacrifice, and really being conscious of how Jesus Christ is forming me, breaking me apart and then putting me back together in all these interesting ways, you realize that you need a lot of time. You learn it’s not about me. It’s not about what I want, it’s not my personal style or tastes. It’s about what the church is calling,” says Seagraves. 

Father Chad Johnson, the Diocesan Director of Vocations, says this is the moment where Travis Seagraves will choose to make all the promises he will live the rest of his life by. He says to soak in the coming year’s experience as a transitional deacon. 

“There will be a desire to be, ok, ready to go, why am I doing this? Priesthood now. But there are so many unique experiences that happen in your diaconate year. That just humility, a desire to be with the people and let God work,” says Father Chad Johnson. 

Seagraves has spent the past year at Mt. Carmel Church of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Ashtabula. He will continue to serve the parish after his ordination to transitional deacon for the Diocese of Youngstown, which takes place on May 25th. While he says the experience has been humbling, he looks forward to carrying out his new responsibilities as a transitional deacon–which include proclaiming the gospel, and assisting priests with baptisms, weddings and funerals. 

“This just isn’t a fanciful idea. It really is true, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. And it takes time to really break that open and see the truth in that. You’re able to look at them, and rejoice and it’s like hey, I got to see you today. You’re my sister, you’re my brother, you’re my father if he’s a priest. It’s changed a lot in my life, it really has,” says Seagraves. 

Segraves says to those who are considering a life in the church, trust in the grace that has brought you to that point. 

“The grace that brings you to the seminary is the grace that will bring you through the seminary. God provides. Knowing that I’m able to serve the church is this really profound way, with my hopeful brother priests and brother deacons, it will be an adventure,” says Seagraves. 

If you have experienced God’s call to the church, contact Vocations at the Diocese of Youngstown, and follow @doyvocations on Facebook and Instagram. 

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Dennis Biviano

Dennis Biviano serves as the Public Relations and Media Specialist for the Diocese of Youngstown as the diocese’s chief point of contact with journalists. Biviano brings 20 years of TV News reporting experience to the Communications Department. He is a graduate of John F. Kennedy Catholic School in Warren and Kent State University, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism. He has worked as a Multimedia Journalist in the Mahoning Valley for WKBN & WYTV, as well as Charter Communications (Spectrum News 1) for seven years. Biviano is an active member of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Niles with his family.
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