I’m a cradle Catholic and I grew up in Stayton with my amazing parents and sisters. Serving as an altar server from an early age, I think, instilled a deep conviction in my heart to be close to Jesus. I didn’t care much about my faith, still I knew that it was necessary to attend Mass because something extraordinary was happening there. But, as any wayward son, I wasn’t listening when the Lord was calling me closer to Him.
In high school I experienced a deep poverty of heart, and I believed I was incapable of being loved by others. In a moment of desperation, I walked to my parish office and asked to speak to a priest. Even though the office was closing, that priest took the time to see my broken heart and speak to me about the Lord’s love. This encounter kept my conviction going to remain active in the Church.
Years later, I was running two businesses and I was happy doing things my own way. I volunteered in my parish community, but I still didn’t know my faith or have a consistent prayer life. As a chaperone to the Steubenville NW Youth Conference, I experienced a profound encounter with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration that spurred me to take a full-time job at the parish.
A newly ordained priest of our Archdiocese was assigned to our parish the next summer. The way he openly expressed his love for Our Lord and his fearless pursuit of Christ’s own heart was appealing. A few days before the youth conference, he asked me, “Have you ever thought about becoming a priest?” That question sparked great internal turmoil, but also seemed to help everything make sense. It felt as if the Lord had been calling me for years, but my stubborn heart was finally open to listen.
During my second conference trip, I again experienced a profound encounter with the Lord in Eucharistic Adoration. He generously pierced my heart with His love. The room stood still for a moment and the Lord convicted me that He was indeed calling me to something great. I knew I was in the embrace of a Father who is ridiculously in love with me, sees me, knows me, and pursues me. Most importantly, I understood more deeply that I was a beloved son of God. With such great consolation, I reached out to the vocations office to begin the formal discernment process.