Local Religious life

Spiritual direction revealed to deacon his heart’s true desires

Colm Larkin plays with a child he met on a mission trip to Peru in 2019. His group visited a shanty town, where they talked with the locals and played with the children. COURTESY PHOTO

by Joe Bollig

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — When Deacon Colm Francis Larkin was just a little guy, 5 or 6 years old, he told his pastor that he wanted to grow up and become a priest — but he didn’t want to go to Mass all the time.

The old monsignor roared with laughter.

Thoughts of a vocation to the priesthood soon went away, but God has a funny way of bringing up the subject again with some men. This was the case with Deacon Larkin.

Larkin, soon to turn 29, was ordained a transitional deacon on May 21, 2022, at Christ the King Parish in Topeka. He and two other men will be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann on May 27 at Prince of Peace Church in Olathe.

Now, Deacon Larkin can’t wait to celebrate Mass all the time — and hear confessions and administer all the sacraments of the Catholic Church.

“It’s a beautiful life that God has called me to,” he said.

Deacon Colm Larking shares a lightehearted moment before the Chrism Mass on April 4 at Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kansas. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Both of his parents have roots in the Diocese of Salina and he was born in Salina, too. But his family moved to Bellevue, Nebraska (really Omaha), and then to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Dennis and Jean Larkin had four children, and Deacon Larkin is “the baby of the family.” He’s also the youngest cousin.

“The faith was very important and central to our family,” said Deacon Larkin. “I grew up going to daily Mass with my mom, we prayed at meals and lived our lives according to the church calendar.”

Catholic education was important, too. He’s attended Catholic schools from grade school through the seminary.

“I tell people I’m in my 23rd grade of Catholic education,” he said.

Deacon Colm Larkin places the Lectionary on the altar at the beginning of the Chrism Mass. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Deacon Larkin had no thoughts whatsoever about the priesthood all through grade school, high school and his first couple of years at Benedictine College in Atchison.

However, at Benedictine he thought he received sure guidance for his future.

“I originally wanted to be a physical therapist,” he said. “My organic chemistry professor told me my talents would be wasted on physical therapy, so she encouraged me to look into medical school. I took that as a sign from the Lord. I took my Medical College Admission Test — never officially applied, but I was ready to go.”

At about the same time, he started receiving spiritual direction from St. Benedict Abbey’s prior, Brother Leven Harton.

“He really uncovered a lot of these desires in my heart I didn’t know that I had,” said Deacon Larkin. “There was a desire for closeness and intimacy with the Lord, to totally give myself to him. I wasn’t sure what that meant. In the course of just a few months, I went from not having ever thought about it to thinking about applying for [the] seminary. It was a pretty quick discernment, all things considered.”

Deacon Colm Larkin proclaims the Gospel during the Chrism Mass. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

He also attended a Fellowship of Catholic University Students SEEK conference in Nashville, Tennessee, in January 2015, and it seemed then that the Lord was pointing him toward the seminary or the monastery — not medical school.

Deacon Larkin visited a seminary, but it didn’t seem like a good fit. A priest there wisely counseled him not to drop out of Benedictine, but finish his degree and then decide on a seminary.

And he had to answer another question: Which diocese would he choose? He had ties to the Diocese of Salina, the Archdiocese of Omaha, the Diocese of Wichita, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas and the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

“I asked (then-archdiocesan vocations director) Father Scott Wallisch,  ‘How do I know which one is for me?’” said Deacon Larkin. “He said, ‘You’re going to want to go where your family lives.’ He didn’t know my parents were planning to move to Kansas City . . . almost all of my family eventually moved to Kansas City.”

Deacon Colm Larkin places holy oil during the Chrism Mass. LEAVEN PHOTO BY JAY SOLDNER

Deacon Larkin graduated from Benedictine College with a bachelor’s degree in biology in May 2016 and entered St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas that August.

“I was very blessed to receive a very specific, a very clear, call to the priesthood during my first year in [the] seminary. But then came the painful years of being purified from worldly things,” he said.

“The formation team was incredible. They helped me to stay during times when I wanted to leave. Now, I can look back and see what the Lord was doing all along and how it was necessary,” he said. “Growth is painful. I’m grateful I didn’t confuse the pain of growth with the pain of choosing the wrong vocation. The Christian life is the cross, ultimately. I was schooled in the way of the cross in [the] seminary.”

Why does he want to be a priest? To save souls.

“I was created for this,” said Deacon Larkin. “When God created me, he saw me as a priest 29 years later. It’s beautiful to think this life was prepared for me from the beginning of time. It’s humbling, honoring and exciting. I can’t wait to go out there and serve the people of God.”

Colm Larkin

Age: 28. I will be 29 at ordination.

City/town/location born: Salina

Parents: Dennis and Jean Larkin

Siblings: Liam Larkin, Sister Mary Maris Stella, FSGM, and Clare (Larkin) Ostmeyer

Hometown: Grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, but Overland Park is now home.

Current parish: Holy Cross, Overland Park

• Grade school: St. Bernadette in Bellevue, Nebraska
• Middle/Jr. high: Regis Middle School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa
• High school: Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, graduated 2012
• College: Benedictine College, Atchison, graduated in 2016 with a degree in biology
• Seminary: St. John Vianney in Denver

Favorite movie: “Shawshank Redemption”

Favorite kind of music: country and folk

My encounter with the famous/infamous: When I was a kid, I met the real-life Rudy Ruettiger from the famous football movie “Rudy.”

One of the most inspirational Christians I’ve met: Honestly, it is just the

ordinary people at the parish who inspire me the most.

My favorite class in seminary: I really enjoyed our church history classes.

Favorite saint, and why: St. Raphael the Archangel. He has sort of followed me around all my life. I originally formed a devotion to him because he is the patron saint of doctors and I wanted to go to medical school.

Favorite devotion, and why: the Surrender Novena. It got me through the toughest times in the seminary.

Book I’d recommend: “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis

Favorite food: cinnamon rolls

Least favorite food: celery

Favorite childhood toy: Hot Wheels

When I was growing up, I wanted to be: archaeologist

Dream vacation: a fishing trip to Alaska

Worst job I’ve ever had: I detasseled seed corn in high school. This meant waking up at 4:30 a.m. and walking through corn fields all day pulling the tassels off of the tops of the plants.

Best job I’ve ever had: I worked for a catering company in high school.

Favorite leisure activity: fishing

My hidden talent/skill: This isn’t really a talent, but I have 20/15 vision, which is better than “perfect.”

People who had a major influence on my vocation: Obviously, my parents played a large role in raising me in the faith. My sister entered the convent when I was in college, which played a big part. Brother Leven Harton of St. Benedict’s Abbey in Atchison was my spiritual director in college and had the most immediate impact on me applying to the seminary.

Best advice I received while seeking my vocation: “Don’t take yourself so seriously.”

My advice to someone seeking their vocation or how to get the most out of the seminary experience: If you stay faithful to prayer, the Lord will make known the plan he has for your life.

Qualities I admire in other priests: I admire priests who spend lots of time with families from the parish.

What I’m most looking forward to in my priestly ministry is: being back home in the archdiocese

I want to be a priest because: It is a beautiful life that God has called me to.

About the author

Joe Bollig

Joe has been with The Leaven since 1993. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications and a master’s degree in journalism. Before entering print journalism he worked in commercial radio. He has worked for the St. Joseph (Mo.) News-Press and Sun Publications in Overland Park. During his journalistic career he has covered beats including police, fire, business, features, general assignment and religion. While at The Leaven he has been a writer, photographer and videographer. He has won or shared several Catholic Press Association awards, as well as Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara awards for mission coverage. He graduated with a certification in catechesis from a two-year distance learning program offered by the Maryvale Institute for Catechesis, Theology, Philosophy and Religious Education at Old Oscott, Great Barr, in Birmingham, England.

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