Our Seminarians

Seminarian David Portorreal

David’s home parish is St. William Catholic Church in Naples, Florida, where his parents have resided for nearly twenty years.

He transferred to the Diocese of Venice from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, where he completed his philosophy studies at St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California.

Born and raised in the Greater Cleveland, Ohio area, David always had an inkling that God wanted more from him. But, at the time, priesthood didn't seem to be his calling. After attending College of the Holy Cross where he majored in Political Science and Middlebury College where he received a Master’s degree in Spanish, David returned to his alma mater, Cleveland St. Ignatius, and taught high school Spanish for four years.

He then attended the College of Motion Picture Arts at The Florida State University, earning a Master’s degree in film production before moving out to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue a career in film. Along the way, David discovered that his continual restlessness was, in fact, because God wanted priesthood for him.

As a later vocation, David is a testament to the fact that God is the Great Course-Corrector, truly merciful, and immensely patient. For God, it is never too late. And to paraphrase St. Ignatius of Loyola, David hopes to serve God as He deserves. David enjoys reading, writing, playing guitar, and spending time with family and friends. He very much looks forward to entering Third Theology this fall at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Seminarian Jacob Gwynn

Jacob (or called “Jake” by his family and friends) is 23 years old and was born and raised in Palmetto Florida.

He is a member of Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto and has served his community as a Lector, Usher and Altar Server. From amongst his earliest memories, Jacob recalls the desire to become a priest.

He entered Saint John Vianney College Seminary right after graduating from Palmetto High School in 2016. Jacob begins his first year of Theology at St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in August 2020.

Jacob is now a co-sponsored seminarian with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA and looks forward to serving as a Navy Chaplain.

Jacob enjoys boating, kickboxing and archery.

Seminarian James Gates

James is 19 years old and is one of eight siblings. He was born in Clearwater, Florida and his home parish is Ave Maria Parish in Ave Maria, Florida.

He spent his early years in Michigan, and southern Florida where he lived in Ave Maria, Marco Island, and Naples where he graduated from Naples High School.

God has always been a strong presence in his life and so has James's Catholic faith. He realized he had a strong calling to the Priesthood in the tenth grade. James was involved in Boy Scouts in middle school and JROTC at Naples High School. He has assisted with many summer camps and has helped with Ave Maria's VBS for the past two years.

He enjoys reading, various crafts and outdoor hobbies, such as yard work and mowing the grass, and exploring God's creation. He also enjoys hiking, camping, and traveling.

James is currently a second-year seminarian at St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida. He enjoys working with and helping others. For James, the most rewarding aspect of becoming a Priest will be serving God's flock and bringing others to Christ.

Seminarian Joseph Doherty

Joseph was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He spent his elementary and high school years in a small town outside Philadelphia before moving south to attend Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Florida where he studied Mathematics and Politics.

The deep friendships, dedicated professors, and authentic Catholic atmosphere were deeply formative to him. The beautiful Easter Vigil liturgies celebrated there are among his most moving memories.

Following graduation, Joseph worked at the Hertz Corporation global headquarters in Estero, FL for four years.

During this time Joseph earned his master’s degree in Systems Engineering from Penn State University and became a project manager. He is also a third-degree Knight of Columbus.

Joseph grew up with the ability to walk to the local Catholic Church and found himself spending more and more time there as a sacristan and volunteer.

Though having had engineering and project management as his goals, he has felt moved to discern the priesthood. This began with a spiritual year in Pennsylvania and is now continuing with the Diocese of Venice as he attends St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach.

Joseph enjoys travelling, sunsets, history, and everything that floats or flies. He has assisted in catechesis for Holy Communion and Confirmation at a couple different parishes in the diocese.

He looks forward to accompanying people in the ordinariness of daily life and growing and working with the Catholic community.

Seminarian Juan Contreras

Juan was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. He moved to Michigan where he spent a few years in the city of Holland. Later he moved to Florida and spent most of his childhood and adolescence in Bradenton.

He Graduated from Bayshore High School and attended State College of Florida where he received his Associates Degree. He attended Holy Cross Parish in Palmetto, Florida with his family growing up.

He has always felt a strong call to serve in the Catholic Church and volunteered with Catechism classes and participated in the youth group in his home parish.

When asked about his discernment journey, he said that his desire to do God’s will and to strive for holiness has led him to pursuit of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Juan graduated from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami, Florida and currently attends St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida.

He is entering his second year of Theology.

Seminarian Christian Chami

Christian was born in Montreal, Canada, but at the age of four moved to Naples, Florida, where he grew up.

His home parish is St. William Parish in Naples. Christian also became an American citizen when he was 15, a beautiful moment in his life. Prior to entering the seminary, Christian graduated from Florida State University with a major in psychology.

Christian also earned his black belt in Shurite Karate shortly after graduating from St. John Vianney College Seminary in Miami. Currently, Christian is attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome studying theology at the Gregorian University.

He will be entering his third year of theology.

In Rome, Christian frequently plays soccer, known as “calico” by Italians, reads, swims at a local club, practices karate, goes out with friends, and frequently explores the city of Rome looking for delicious pastries.