BECOMING A PRIEST: Future priest is more at home in seminary than in high finance

By 
  • April 16, 2007
Editor’s note: this is one in a series of articles on the men from Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary and Redemptoris Mater Seminary who will be ordained as priests this spring.
“You could see the homeless people sleeping on the steam grates from the subway system,” said Camilleri. 

In the midst of working on $100-million business deals, he’d ask himself: “How is this helping those guys living there in the cold. It was those things that got me thinking what is more important in life, this career or those people.”

Answering a quiet life-long persistent call is the reason Camilleri will be ordained to the priesthood for the archdiocese of Toronto this May.

He was born in Malta to a long family line of active Catholics: an uncle ordained to the priesthood on his deathbed, plus four cousin priests, one a bishop in Brazil.

“I had good role models, but I was too scared to think of (the priesthood) seriously,” he said.

The first time he felt a strong call to the priesthood was during the last year of his finance degree at Laurentian University in Sudbury.

“I got into bargaining (with God) — if you let me finish my degree I’ll consider the priesthood,” he said.

He finished with honours at age 22, but to avoid answering his call, he continued on to complete an MBA at 24.

He began working for BCE where he said he got caught up in the company which was undergoing a series of mergers and acquisitions.

“I was good at what I did. I got promoted rapidly. I felt a loyalty to the employer like I couldn’t just leave. Like most people in business you are working on a five-year plan. I found I couldn’t make my five-year plan any more.”

Camilleri found himself at a crossroads, needing to choose between a religious or married vocation.

“The more I resisted making the decision, the more I felt an urge to the priesthood,” he said.

Finally, at 29 years old, Camilleri contacted the vocations office for the archdiocese of Toronto. It took a while for someone to contact him because the department was in transition. In the meantime he was assigned to work on Nortel, still owned by BCE, and he began travelling to Europe on business. 

Eventually, the vocations office replied and paired him with a spiritual director, Fr. Tim Hanley, who had previously been a chartered accountant.  

During this period of discernment Camalleri changed companies.

“I was trying to see if by changing jobs this call to the priesthood was because of job dissatisfaction.”

That’s when he knew he had a vocation.

“I had the job of my dreams — 50 people working under me and the call was still there. God had given me everything I wanted, but He did it to show it wasn’t what I really wanted.” 

He said he took a one-year leave from his job to avoid giving up everything without recourse.

“The seminary is a scary thing from the outside, but as soon as I came I felt at home and I knew it was the right decision for me.”

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