Two weeks away from his ordination as a deacon, Reed Bellingham still remembers the first time he wanted to pursue a religious vocation when he was 3-years-old. The 25-year-old Coteau native recalled being in Mass as a child and explicitly thinking that he wanted to be like the priest he saw at church. “A lot of people feel called in college or after they’ve been in the world, but for me it was something I always wanted to do,” Bellingham said. “It always felt like it was inevitable but I wasn’t thinking about how it would play out.” It was in his sophomore year at Catholic High School that Bellingham said that desire turned into a real pursuit. Bellingham said he attended a discernment retreat for men trying to figure out God’s calling for them, which motivated him for a life in the priesthood. “That really gave me a lot of helpful tools,” he said. “Being in that environment with a bunch of guys was really attractive and it made me think that I wanted to create that atmosphere for other people.” Bellingham pursued seminary straight out of high school at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Covington followed by three years at Theological College Washington D.C. He is currently in his third year at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and plans to take one more year before finishing up and starting his vocation at the Diocese of Lafayette. But Bellingham is just on the brink of diaconate ordination, one of the final steps to becoming a priest. The transitional diaconate ordination takes place May 21. The seminary experience has been challenging. Bellingham said learning every aspect of spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation as a representative of the church has been difficult at times but also stimulating. One of the aspects of seminary life that Belling ham has found important is learning to find the little ways in which he can enact God’s will, he said. “It can be hard because you’re trying to form so many areas of yourself, it’s not just sitting in a classroom all day.” As he starts the beginning of the end for seminary life, Bellingham said he’s excited to see where he’s led. After his ordination as a deacon, Bellingham said he will be working in the Diocese of Lafayette for the summer before finishing up his final year at Notre Dame Seminary. Following his priesthood ordination next year, he will be assigned by the diocese to work at a church in the area. “I’m nervous to get out there and do all the things that I’m looking forward to doing,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, from (age) 3 to 25.”