The decision to enter a preparatory seminary at age 14 came naturally for the Rev. Louis P. Trotta.
It was 1939, and Trotta, then attending a Catholic primary school in Baltimore, was one of four classmates who entered St. Joseph's College Seminary in Princeton, N.J.
Trotta spent the next 13 years in three seminaries to prepare him for his ordination as a Vincentian priest. The calling led him to a life filled with people, travel and devotion.
Trotta, who served for 38 years in administration at Niagara University, will be honored this week by the Our Lady of Angels Association with a lifetime achievement award for "his faithful devotion to the Blessed Mother and for his lifelong dedication to spreading devotion."
The award will be given to Trotta during Our Lady of Angels Association's 90th anniversary dinner Friday by the Rev. Michael J. Carroll, provincial superior of the Vincentians.
Trotta, now 84 and known for his loving and caring nature, is semiretired and is the assistant director of the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal in Philadelphia.
"When I think of my friend Father Lou Trotta, I think of a man who truly loves his priesthood and has remained committed to his vocation for almost 57 years," said Sister Patricia Russo, of the Sisters of St. Francis. "He's a very prayerful man, and he has a great devotion to Our Lady."
Trotta, who began working at Niagara University as administrative vice president and dean of men in 1966, served as vice president for student affairs for 18 years. He later served as assistant to the president for alumni relations.
"Every day after lunch, you could find Father Trotta in the student center talking to the students," Russo said. "He got to know many of them. He was interested in their lives, and he was an inspiration to them."
The Rev. William J. O'Brien, executive director of Our Lady of Angels Association, said Trotta is well known within the Vincentian community because of his many years of service.
Before working at Niagara University, Trotta also served as the director of St. Joseph's College Seminary in Princeton and held leadership posts at two other seminaries.
A traveler, Trotta also has helped lead tours and pilgrimages to Marian sites such as Lourdes, France, and to shrines in the United States.
Trotta, who described himself as a "people-oriented person," said he thinks of the words of St. Vincent de Paul when he thinks about the years he has spent ministering to people.
"As St. Vincent de Paul, our founder, said, 'When you evangelize to the poor you are evangelized by them," Trotta said. "That's what I've found in all my work ministering to the various groups of people. . . . In ministering to them, it's amazing how that turns back upon me."