Growing up in a military family, I spent most of my childhood moving from one place to another, constantly establishing a new community wherever we went. Although we did not attend church regularly, it was on the occasion of my mother’s miscarriage that I first recall witnessing the power of God in my family’s life. I vividly remember the Sunday – my mother reaching out to God in intense suffering and seeing God console her as He held her in His arms. It was a Sunday unlike any other, as it was the first Sunday I recall God moving in my family’s life. My mother’s heart was broken and God put it back together. At the time, I did not know what to make of it, but it touched my heart, and opened me up to believing in Goodness. Though this was an intense experience, football quickly became the God of my life.
I grew up watching my dad play Semi-Pro football and knew from an early age that I wanted to be just like him; a tough guy adorned in armor, ready to battle! I began playing football in third grade, and with each passing year, it became more of my identity. It gave my life purpose and direction and made me feel alive. I applied myself wholeheartedly to the game, giving my all on the field and training intensely off of it. By the end of middle school, this great love and dedication culminated in a scholarship offer to attend a private Catholic High School, St. Mary’s Ryken. My parents and I accepted, and our lives have never been the same. The first day of freshman year began with a retreat, and it was the first time I had ever heard anyone my age speak of a personal relationship with Jesus. I was perplexed by the reality of a living encounter with God, but quickly buried this inspiration with football and academics. However, this encounter would prove to be inescapable, as a broken shoulder paired with a broken heart stripped me of my identity and cast me into darkness. But the light was not overcome! Saint John Paul II’s Theology of the Body healed my heart that was wounded by a sex-saturated culture and renewed my hope for love.
Healed and hopeful, I found myself open to the witness of my teammates, who invited me into a deeper communion with Jesus through the Church. He convinced me of His love, and I concluded my time at Ryken by entering the Church at the Easter Vigil. Newly confirmed, I began my academic and athletic career at Colby College. I came with the firm intention to bring Christs’ Light to the darkness of a secular campus. I quickly became a starter and the spiritual leader of my team my freshman year and began working with a local priest to bring the faith to my classmates. In this endeavor, I encountered the absolute brokenness of a secular world. The tears and helplessness of friends pierced my heart with sorrow and moved me to compassion. In loving them, I felt most alive and knew my heart was being drawn to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
As I began to discern with the help of the High Calling Program, I began to discover more and more of my own heart as instructors drew me deeper into the Heart of Christ. The deeper I treaded, the clearer it became my heart desired a spiritual fatherhood, and a life devoted to Christ as His priest. I am now at the end of my first semester in seminary, and I can say that He has me right where He wants me. It has been the most joyful four months of my life and the toughest. I am painfully encountering the ways in which my heart does not belong to the Father, yet the promise of His faithfulness always soothes me. In this short time, I have experienced profoundly how much my calling is a gift to others as much as it is to myself. It fills me with a gratitude that is the source of all that I do during the rest of my time in seminary, and God-Willing, in the priesthood He is calling me to!