Why I Wanted To Be A Priest

I am a cradle Catholic and in terms of my faith practice I would describe the first two decades of my life as basically going through the motions.  Growing up I perceived the Church as somewhat legalistic, uninviting and something that would restrain my freedom if I became too involved.  Church and the sacraments were something I “had” to do.  God was boring.  I went to Sunday Mass because it was a requirement of God (and my parents) and I feared the wrath that would come if I failed to fulfill my obligation, With Confirmation I had the same “check-in-check-out” mentality.  I thought “OK, OK, OK, I”ll get confirmed because most of my other Catholic friends are going to do it.”  Now I think back on our Confirmation experience as if we were a flock of sheep going through the sacramental branding factory without really being committed to receiving anew the gift of God’s Holy Spirit.  At least for me, I know that at that point in my life I did not put my heart into God. I had invested my heart into such things as basketball and looking good but I had given little thought, time or love to God.  Later on I learned that I am always giving my heart over to someone or something and there are consequences to this giving over.

During my sophomore year in college my heart was, in many ways, empty and longing for happiness.   I thought that there had to be more to life than what I was experiencing.  Sports, friends, partying and trying on my own efforts to be a “decent and kind” human being weren’t cutting it.  I reflected on my investments; how much time, effort and love I had put into such things a sports, school and having a good image.  While these things were good, I did not invite God to be a part of them.  I was living according to my own authority and I found myself searching for meaning and love in my life.  We make investments in order to realize a return.  The investments that I made up to that point in my life left me in want of a greater and different return.  I felt like a dry, weary land without water.

The next year I transferred colleges and through the people I met at my new university I became attracted to God.  These people shared with me about a God who had become real to them in the person of Jesus.  They told me that Jesus had forgiven their sins and that the angels and saints in heaven celebrate with incredible joy when someone gives their heart to God for healing and forgiveness.  They gave me hope by saying that I, too, could know the fire of god’s love through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Yes, these people, enlivened by the Holy Spirit , had the meaning and the love I thirsted for.  I determined in my mind and heart that I wanted what they had.  I chose to invest in God; to give him, to the best of my ability, all that I was– the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Well, God embraced me with an embrace and love beyond containment.  Since that time, I have never regretted any investment I have made in God.  God always gives wonderful and awe-inspiring returns!!  I have found out that Jesus is a friend of sinners and people who don’t necessarily have it all together.  He forgives the sorrowful.  He is the healer of broken hearts and relationships.  He goes crazy with joy even over the thought of us.  It is not possible for him to reject, harm or withhold forgiveness.    I learned that as I invest my life with God, with all my sin, hope, disappointments and gifts, he has nothing but the blessing of love and healing for me.  What a God of faithfulness have we!!  This is the Good News!!  Why did I become a priest?  Because I do not want children and youth to wait two decades to invest in a love relationship with God.   I have a special place in my heart for youth and my deep desire is that NOW will be the time for them to say yes to the true love and freedom we have in Christ.  The Good News, however, is not just for the youth–it is for each one of us, regardless of our age and state in life.  God’s goodness is ever new.  NOW we can come to know our forever–faithful God whose passion is to set us free in his love and healing.  YOU ARE LOVED!