I was born third of four boys to a family in Wisconsin; though most of my life growing up and starting my own family was spent just over the border in Minnesota. My father’s grandfather had emigrated from Namur, Belgium just after the American Civil War and joined America’s largest Belgian-American community in Door County, Wisconsin. My mother’s side had been in the U.S. much longer, descending from Scots-Irish ancestors. My grandfather, who died when my father was just 17, had married outside the Catholic Faith in about 1910 to a German-Lutheran woman; hence our part of the family was raised in the German-Lutheran faith, and our step-grandfather pastored a German-Lutheran church in northern Wisconsin for half a century.
It has been said that life is a journey and not a destination. For close to fifty years I followed a spiritual path that was shaped in and through the Anglican Communion. Choirboy, altar boy, priest, secretary to the Diocesan Synod, Franciscan friar, confessor to bishops, and chaplain at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, I have seen it all in Anglicanism.
Ruth: That Good Friday, I carefully took out white construction paper and the big, thick crayons that normally were reserved for my coloring books. Slowly, and very deliberately, I drew three crosses, the middle one in red. I don’t know how long I sat there, but I remember talking to Jesus in my own child-like way. That is my first memory of prayer or any understanding, however rudimentary, of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world. I was a preschooler, not yet attending kindergarten, but this memory is still so vivid and detailed that it doesn’t seem that almost fifty years have passed.
From Punk to the Papacy by Daniel Weikert I lacked any experience of the Catholic faith growing up as a child and had little until about six years ago. I was introduced to Jesus and the Christian faith by my mother, who had a “born again” experience when I was six. She turned to Christ […]
On the rare occasions when I attempt the impossible task of imagining what heaven might be like, I envision saints — but not the dour, stern, serious saints of so much artwork. I imagine smiling saints with a humorous twinkle in their eyes. Saints such as Aidan, Cuthbert, Columba, and Patrick; an eighth-century pilgrim to the Holy Land from Byzantium (more of him later); and closer in time and experience, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.
Why smiling saints? Because, looking back along my path to the Catholic Church, I can see the instances of humor that God used along the way, glinting like flecks of gold sprinkled in a vein of quartz.
Once a minister of the Episcopal Church, I am today a Roman Catholic Priest, serving as pastor of the parish of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in the Diocese of Fort Worth, Texas. As it turns out, becoming a Catholic priest brought me “full circle.” Allow me to share with you how and why.