CHARLESTON—For a brief period of time, Msgr. Steven L. Brovey struggled with the decision on whether to enter seminary after graduation, or go to medical school.
In the end, the enduring call of the Lord won out. Plus, Msgr. Brovey added, he really doesn’t like the sight of blood.
As he prayed to decipher which path was right, there were a number of influences that led him to the priesthood. One was his mother, Dorothy May Brovey, who offered constant support and encouragement. Another was his childhood pastor, Father St. John Patat at Divine Redeemer in Hanahan.
During his years as an altar boy, through middle school, Father Patat greatly influenced the young Steven, not only to consider the priesthood, but also as a role model for how a priest should carry himself.
“He took his duty seriously and reverently,” Msgr. Brovey said.
As he grew older, however, the outside world became more of a factor.
“As you go into high school, you often push [the call to the priesthood] away, but it comes back,” the priest said.
It was at the height of his struggle his senior year in high school that another role model reached out through the airwaves to offer guidance. Steven was about to graduate and had been accepted to the pre-med program at Xavier University, but he was still torn.
Then, on Easter Sunday, Pope John Paul II delivered his address and told the world, “Do not be afraid to follow Christ.” It was a message straight to a struggling teen’s heart.
“It gave me the courage to shift gears and apply to seminary,” he said.
He entered St. John’s Seminary College in Boston and then attended The American College in Belgium for four years, which he said was a wonderful experience. Because it is so centrally located, he was able to travel all over Europe.
Immersing himself in so many countries and cultures helped him pinpoint where he wanted to serve — the Diocese of Charleston. Msgr. Brovey said Charleston is his favorite city and Rome is second. “The holy city and the eternal city.”
The coastal area was his home for most of his childhood. His family — parents, four sisters and a brother — moved from Philadelphia when Steven was in first grade and remained through his freshman year at Bishop England High School. Then they moved to Ohio, but Msgr. Brovey said the history and charm of Charleston pulled him back.
He was ordained in 1991 by Bishop David B. Thompson in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, where he now serves as rector, and his first assignment was as parochial vicar at Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant.
Now, 25 years later, Msgr. Brovey said he’s never looked back, and encourages others struggling with the decision to give religious life a try.
“The further you go, the greater sense of peace there is. That confirms you’re on the right path,” he said.
Eucharistic adoration and prayer are an essential component of life for the priest. There is so much noise and distraction in society today, he said, “If you can’t sit quietly and listen to the Lord, you won’t hear His call, whatever it is.”
He recalls the wisdom of Pope Benedict who said young people must be taught to pray so they’ll be able to find their way and know what to do in times of questions and doubts.
Prayer has been part of his bedrock of faith for all these years; from his early days as a young pastor in the rural areas of Kingstree and Georgetown, to serving at the fast-growing Prince of Peace Church in Taylors, where he helped build a church and found a school.
Now he’s rector of the Cathedral, and said it’s a thrill to be in the seat of the diocese and welcome all the visitors.
He’d still like to travel to places in the United States he hasn’t seen yet, such as the Grand Canyon. Overall though, Msgr. Brovey said he’s very content. He enjoys walks with his chocolate Labrador named Benedict (after the pope and St. Benedict), reading, going to the gym and grilling.
It’s a quiet, reverent walk along the path with God, something he hopes he passes along to the people in the pews during the celebration of Mass.
Top photo: Miscellany/Doug Deas: Msgr. Steven L. Brovey, rector, celebrates Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on May 15.