This week’s question: “What made you choose to become a priest?”
Well, this one’s certainly a bit more of a personal question than I generally field here, but since I was asked, I will answer. Here’s the short version of my story.
I suppose I’d have to say that for me, it was God’s faithfulness – perhaps in the form of persistence – that finally won me over. There’s a wonderful poem entitled “The Hound of Heaven” by Francis Thompson that captures some of what I’m talking about here.
From a very early age, I grew to love God and desired to live my life in and for God (this happened so early and naturally that I don’t actually know just how it occurred). But I know that between the ages of 5 and 10, the “what I want to be when I grow up” question revolved and cycled around 3 things: being an astronaut, a fireman, and a priest.
My best friend and I, between 3rd and 6th grade, would spend our summers riding our bikes to Mass each morning to be altar servers, and then going fishing or exploring or playing football, or using some other means to enjoy this great life that God had given us. But Mass (almost) every day was a big part of my growing up – you might say I grew up on Mass and mud.
Then came a move to a new town, new school, and things like junior high then high school, with new friends, and – at a deeper level, a moving away from who I was. Slowly and suddenly, God – and especially Catholicism – were no longer at the center of my life. That trajectory away from where God is found continued for the next decade-and-a-half until I opened my eyes one day and found that I recognized neither my surroundings nor myself.
That’s when He caught up to me. Better yet, that’s when I stopped trying to run from Him and began to seek to be found by Him. Once that happened, my heart was seized by Him, and I was set free once more – freed from my own cramped little world, and set free to roam and range and explore the great world of God in the Catholic Church.
When I came back inside (the Church), I rediscovered that here is where it ALL makes sense. Here is where everything fits together and comes into right focus. Here is where I wanted to (where I was made to) live my life – as a priest.
Wow, thanks for another great question. And keep those questions coming! May God bless you this autumn and always!