Friday, March 16, 2007

IT SEEMS SO CLEAR NOW, BUT IT SURE DIDN'T THEN!

Wow! Well, as promised, here is part one of my vocation story, trimmed of fat and meandering reminiscence. Hope you enjoy: Some forced thinking about the priesthood began with serving mass. One day Fr. Ozimek announced to me (not asked) that I would start serving. Sometimes coming off of the altar one of the old-timers would stop me and secret a dollar bill into my fist and say something like, “You did a good job up there. You should think about becoming a priest.” I would say, “Thanks for the dollar,” and move along.

But the notion was not completely ruled out at least in play. The neighbor kids and I would play mass in our basement and I would be the priest. They were perfectly happy to be Catholic for those few minutes even though they were Protestants because Mom would supply Oreo cookies and milk the mass wafers.

I can honestly say that the priesthood was not seriously thought about through high school and into college other than the occasional, “If I were a priest, I would do it this way . . .” But then some things began to happen toward the end of my college career. It was not a loud voice from heaven, nor even a single event, but a string of events and small voices that seemed to lay out a path to the seminary.

Thanks to Fr. Ozimek (whom I admired as a man and a priest – in fact, I took my confirmation name in part after him) who never really bought into the whole “Jesus loves you, how do you feel about it, make a poster” approach to CCD, I knew a bit more about my faith than my fellow students at the University of Akron. So if a question arose, it would likely be steered my way. I didn’t think much of it until one day the girl I was dating burst out into tears and asked, “Are you going to become a priest?” That comment dropped my jaw to the floor. No mention of that had ever been made nor had it been given any real thought. From where did that come? But interestingly enough, from then on, it was dwelt upon from time to time.

The next incident was when C.P. wanted to go to a Latin Mass and so I accompanied her. Father Mackert was giving a knockdown, drag out homily about the priesthood. I remember sitting in the pew thinking that it was quite a remarkable thing that he was saying (though scarcely any of it is remembered now) when C.P. elbowed me and pointed toward the pulpit. The exact words are no longer held in memory, but the gist of the whisper in my ear was, “That could be you!”

The next few months were one of those fists-on-the-hips “how did I end up here?” periods. There were some serious discussions with God, but he didn’t seem in much of a hurry about anything.

Interestingly, one of the biggest turn offs was the package that came from the diocese. I decided to write just to see what they had to say to men contemplating priesthood. (My concept of seminary was so off it is laughable.) When the package came, I took it to a private place outside and looked at the brochures that had obviously not been updated since the early 70’s and it all went into the trash along with most thoughts about the priesthood. Time to get on with the life that I had been working toward! But then . . .

Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat station for: CRISIS BACK STAGE!

7 comments:

Adoro te Devote said...

Ohhh....I can't stand the suspense!

You sure know how to build drama....

Habemus Papam said...

WOW!! What a great story. Thanks for sharing part 1. What I found really interesting was how CP was so supportive of your path towards priesthood. I can't say that many girls/women these days would be that supportive. (Although I'm sure parts of that side of the story didn't make the blog). Can't wait to read more...

Lily said...

Indeed! You must've been meant to write, too. With just a few words, you perfectly summed up a big beef with our third of three years of Confirmation prep: “Jesus loves you, how do you feel about it, make a poster." I roared at that -- imagine kicking off this incredibly important year with a "Marketing Jesus" evening--Jesus pushed as running shoe, soft drink, powerful cereal.. *sigh.

I look forward to reading all of, and pointing to, your journey.

Rob said...

-the brochures that had obviously not been updated since the early 70’s-

Oh boy. What were they like? Were they tie-dyed?

UltraCrepidarian said...

Ooh that's just MEAN! You better finish it soon!

(Who am I to complain, eh? I posted my conversion story in my blog with several month delays between chunks.)

Warren

Fr. V said...

I love conversion stories too but never thought mine was all that interesting - perhpas because I new all of the boring parts too.

Rob - You can probably imagine what they looked like - the pictures - the funky "relevalnt" lettering. There was some excellent content but my immediate impression was that they must not be so serious or much in need if they sent that out.

H.B. - It is true - I was VERY fortunate to just happen to be surrounded by Catholics who were very supportive (strange, being in the theater world!) But there are great supporters out there - you are one!

Lily - couldn't agree more! "Jesus: Brought to in part by the makers of "The Universe." If you lived here, you'd be home by now. (Anyone know where that came from?)

Thanks for readng guys!

Fr. V said...

Gads! Sorry for the misspellings above!