I grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta with no religion to speak of in my household. My father was a rather outspoken atheist, and my mother was an apathetic agnostic. I inherited my father’s atheism and was passionately anti-religious throughout my teenage years. Although I never went to church on the weekends, I was driven to my grandfather’s house every Saturday morning to spend time with him and help him with his yard work. These were some of my most formative experiences growing up, and I especially remember his favorite phrase, “this too shall pass.” At the time, I could never have realized the severe impact that phrase would have on me.
When I went off to college, I began to slowly be exposed to certain Christian things, like arguments for the existence of God and the resurrection of Christ. I thought some of the arguments I heard were reasonably good, but they were not enough to convert me on the spot. However, in my junior year of college, several personal tragedies struck, and my life as I had hitherto known it fell apart within a few days. My grandfather died of cancer, my parents divorced, my girlfriend dumped me without warning, my car broke down in the middle of nowhere, and for the first time, I genuinely cried to God for help. I asked Him for a sign that I could not miss.
The next day, my girlfriend and I reconciled and got back together, and she, being an evangelical Christian, gave me a book by the protestant pastor Max Lucado to help me deal with my grief. As I slowly read the book, asking for a sign, I began to feel a stirring in my soul that grew stronger by the day. Finally, after a week or so, I had become highly anxious while reading the book, so I decided to finish the page I was on and put it down. When I reached the end of the page, the last sentence was “This too shall pass.” I thought it was an interesting coincidence, but nothing more. I went to the kitchen to make lunch and opened YouTube on my phone for some background noise. I tapped a short video, and the last sentence was “This too shall pass.” Then not thirty seconds later, my girlfriend texted me and said, “I felt like I needed to tell you, this too shall pass.”
I realized this was no coincidence and bolted to my room, weeping. After praying furiously, I accepted Christ into my heart. I was baptized shortly thereafter into the Methodist church, but after much prayer and study of church history, I was received into the Catholic Church in May 2020.
After that, the call to pursue the priesthood came relatively fast, but as God’s call to the seminary became more evident, I simultaneously grew excited and anxious. I had no prior experience with religious formation, nor did I know anyone close to me who had attended seminary. Finally, I contacted my local Vocations Director, who enthusiastically recommended the High Calling Program. The spiritual, intellectual, and practical foundation I received from the program’s top-notch professors was pivotal in my discernment. The information has since proven invaluable in my seminary formation. The module on prayer from Fr. Boniface Hicks was incredibly impactful in my journey, and it will undoubtedly affect how I pray for the rest of my life. I cannot recommend High Calling enough to anyone discerning.
In the late summer of 2022, I entered the seminary to study to be a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta.