First of all, I’m not losing my faith in God in any way, shape or form, so please don’t take the title like that even though it could be taken that way and in advance I want to thank everyone who responds for your help and prayers.
Let me start by giving a brief bio (probably will turn into a book, as much as I tend to type, sorry in advance lol :p) of myself.
I am 25 years old, happily Catholic my entire life. Since I was young my mother has always taught me to live my life with God as number one and I’ve always tried to keep Him as my number 1 priority, failing now and then as any human does. She brought us to Church every Sunday and helped to keep Scripture and Prayer in our lives. I remember, since being very young in grade school, always feeling something VERY special during Mass and especially the liturgy of the Eucharist. I don’t know exactly how to explain it other than saying it was a certain reverence that I felt in my heart, a certain spark. And I’ve always had that feeling when I go to Church. No matter if I’d wake up cranky or depressed or anything, when I go to Church and especially Communion, I always leave happy and cheerful.
Since Kindergarten, I’d attended Catholic school, all the way to grade 12. I went to Penn State for college and got my Bachelor of Science degree in Information Sciences Technology. I currently have a job, though it’s not what I went to school for and in the last 3 years of interviewing, I’ve been unable to find a job anywhere.
When I was in 1st grade, I joined the Tiger cubs and followed the ladder the entire way to Eagle Scout. I was more proud of getting my Eagle Scout then I was of graduating college. Why? I don’t know. I feel that I worked harder in scouting and was happier then I was in college. The point of me telling you this is, when I was still in scouts in High School, my friend who I went to school with (who belonged to a different Boy Scout troop, in a different council and district but the same diocese) invited me to a Catholic scouting “retreatoree” that he went to every year through our diocese. I went and loved it and went with him every year from 6th thru 12th grade. When I graduated High School, my Boy Scout troop was all but finished and had folded up with my brother being our last eagle. So I didn’t really have a lot of time put into volunteering for the Boy Scouts or to give back to the organization, plus I was extremely busy with college.
Then, when I was in my senior year of college (lucky for me the Penn State branch I went to was within 15 miles of my home, I didn’t go to main campus for school), my great aunt passed away. At the reception after the funeral, my other great aunt who was incidentally involved with the girl scouts and our diocese, asked me about helping out at a retreat for scouting. I inquired and it turns out it was the same one I had went to a few years before and attended every year so I of course jumped on it, excited both to be going on this retreat again, this time as a staff member and also to be helping out with Boy Scouts. So I went and I met a lot of people who I remembered from going to the retreatoree before and met a lot of new people, including the two priests who were now in charge.
Now, this retreat was always held at a Boy Scout camp and of course this meant that people need to bring their own tents and all of course. Being on staff has it’s perks, including getting to use the camp’s staff quarters. Me being a late addition to the staff, I was assigned to sleep in the chaplain’s cabin with, you guessed it, the priests. They slept in one room and I in the other. This doesn’t really have a lot to do with the story, other than saying that it was exciting knowing that I was so close to them. But during this retreatoree, the one priest in particular, Father Doug, made me feel very special. I went to confession with him and I swear, it was the best confession I think that I’ve ever had and I came away from it more confused but at peace feeling then I’ve ever come before from a confession. What I really liked about it was, Father Doug was really the first confessor that I’ve been to that tried to hold an actual conversation with me about my sins and my life and all, instead of just
him: “speak your sins”
him: “ok do this and this and 10 hali mary’s, now do an act of contrition”
I really enjoyed this. I mean I know that my parish priest and the other priests that I went to confession with cared about me and helping me, but they were always just going just by the script and finishing up. Father Doug did all the prayers and parts of the confession necessary, but when giving me my penance and even while I was confessing my sins, he made me feel extremely comfortable and I truly felt that it was ‘in persona Christi,’ in the person of Christ. We discussed my life a little bit, what I’m doing with it, where I thought it was headed. And then he asked me a question. Have I ever thought of the priesthood?
Now, in my 25 years of life, of course my mother’s asked me this before and others have asked me before, including priests and I was never affected by it. But there was something different about Father Doug. He just seemed to be so passionate about his vocation and the ministry and he made one feel extremely comfortable to talk about their faith or in confession, wherever. And when he asked me, it really made me think more. I told him what I wrote above here, about always feeling special when in Mass but that I always brushed it aside as just a spiritual high, not a calling from God to be a priest. He told me God puts the door before us, we just have to choose to open it and that made me think. I wasn’t lead to feel that God was definitely calling me to be a priest by this experience, but it helped to open my mind more to different vocations, other than married life, which is what I’d always considered “my thing.” It wasn’t just Father Doug that helped me, by being on the staff of the Retreatoree and helping younger people to learn about Jesus and their faith, it inspired me. I came home and met with my parish priest and one of the vocation directors for my diocese, another priest. I spoke with them and they basically told me that I would know if God wanted me to be a priest or what He has planned for me. The vocations director even assigned me a local priest to be my spiritual advisor, to help me to discern. I only met with him a few times, not because I was uncomfortable or anything, I just didn’t have a lot of time. Since then, along with still going to Church regularly, I still am on staff at the Retreatoree and actually am in charge of one of the sessions, for the under high school kids. I enjoy doing it, especially because my friend, who’s not a scout but is Catholic like me, has started coming and helps out with my session now so I’m more comfortable in front of them. And I’m still friends with Father Doug as well. He’s in our planning committee for the retreatoree and I’ve met with him myself a few times as well just to talk or discuss things in my life, as well as confession.