An Anniversary That Means a Great Deal to Me (if not anyone else)

On this date in 1980 I had an eventful day: I entered the seminary of the Stigmatine Fathers and Brothers. I moved from my home in Woodbridge, Va. to Watertown, MA; actually the Stigmatine House of Studies at 229 Watertown St. in Watertown. I transferred from George Mason University to Boston College and changed my major from Government to Philosophy. It was quite a change.

I write this because as I look over the grand sweep of my life (so far) this is a pretty big day. Previous to this I had visions of graduating from George Mason, going to University of Virginia Law School and spending my career as an attorney. By my sophomore year at George Mason I began to understand that this wasn’t going to fulfill me. The idea of switching to becoming a Catholic priest seemed unbelievable, but somehow attractive. I entered the Stigmatine seminary that day convinced that God would take care of me and prevent anything bad from happening.

He did (take care of me) and didn’t (prevent anything bad from happening). But from that day I’ve never seriously thought about becoming a lawyer, and I’ve never thought about a career away from being a public person of faith. Since that day I’ve been a seminarian (with both the Stigmatines and the Paulist Fathers), a priest with the Paulists, a Director of Religious Education (running a CCD or Sunday School program), a Youth Minister (working with teens), a resident manager in a home for teen mothers, and (finally) a hospice chaplain.

When I look back on the person I was 32 years ago I barely recognize myself. On the other hand I recognize I would not be the middle aged man I am today if my younger self hadn’t taken that step on that day, in that place.

I’m also grateful for all the brave men and women who have crossed my path. Not all of them would predict I’d be where I am now, but all of them had a part in who I am now. My thanks.

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