My “introduction” to Holy Cross came in the form of a telephone call from Fr. Tom McNally, C.S.C., in 1972 offering me a position as an RA in Grace Hall at the University of Notre Dame. I was 30 years old at the time, and about to enter Notre Dame Law School. I had never lived in a college dormitory. I had never set foot on the Notre Dame campus. And yet I had signed up to begin anew as a student, living with college undergraduates 18 to 20 years old. I figured I could put up with almost anything for three years.
Overall, I ended up spending 25 years living in undergraduate residence halls at Notre Dame – 25 years for which I will always be grateful.
It was in Grace Hall working with Holy Cross religious that I first started considering the possibility of life as a Holy Cross priest. After graduating from law school and practicing law for a couple of years, I entered Moreau Seminary at the age of 35. But, the roots of my vocation can be traced back to my parents and family, the nuns who taught me in grade school and high school, and the priests at my parish growing up for whom I had great admiration and respect.
I had been involved as a college professor, college administrator, business professional and a lawyer before I entered the seminary. I was happy and successful in all that I had done, but there was always the unsettled feeling that I was supposed to be doing something else. Continue reading
Up until I was a freshman in high school, I had not seriously thought about what I should do with my life. As far as my faith was concerned, I had a strong belief in God, prayed regularly, and had a relationship with Jesus, but I was not yet a Catholic. In my early high school years, two major themes started happening in my life. First, I began to strongly consider a career as an Army officer; second, I was questioning aspects of my faith and was searching for the right church.
My interest in the military started when I began living with my stepfather, an Army officer. He gave me a glimpse of the Army culture. Along with that, I was also in Marine Corps JROTC and was fueled by a demand of physical and mental discipline, leadership opportunities, and other challenges. I came to believe that the gifts God gave me would be best suited to enact the greatest good as an officer in the military.
I was simultaneously undergoing a spiritual transformation. I realized more and more that my faith had to be an essential component of my life. Not yet a Catholic and questioning the beliefs I grew up with, I started visiting various churches to see which one I should attend. It wasn’t until I began attending Mass at a Catholic Church that I knew where God was calling me. I initially attending Mass as my sophomore year I was at a Catholic school where I absolutely loved everything I learned about the Catholic faith. Between a love for the faith and the newfound love of the order and spiritual depth of the Mass, I knew God was drawing me into the Catholic Church. It was this year that I entered RCIA and became Catholic. Continue reading
If not for a hockey game, I wouldn’t be a Legionary priest today. As a good Minnesotan, I naturally considered hockey as divinely inspired, a sign of God’s love for us. But it’s what happened after the game that took me by surprise and lead me to know my priestly vocation.
During my first year at college, I often went to the rink at the University of Minnesota with my friends. After one such event —ending in a double overtime victory for the Golden Gophers, and a long celebration— I returned home in the wee hours of the morning, too tired to get out of bed until Sunday afternoon.
Stumbling upstairs for something to eat, I found my Dad sitting at the kitchen table, reading the paper. Opening the fridge, I heard from over my shoulder: “Jason, did you go to Mass this morning?” I swallowed hard. I hadn’t. Quickly I tried to think up the perfect excuse. None came. Trying to hide behind the refrigerator door, I quipped “No, I didn’t go.” Without looking up Dad replied solemnly, “Go tomorrow then.”
It was my first Monday morning Mass ever. I was struck by how quiet the Church was, and how empty. I sat about halfway up and waited. Little by little people began to filter in. Then an attractive girl sat down a few pews behind me. How is it I find a girl like this now and not last Saturday evening? It must be God’s providence! I decided the sign of peace was the perfect time to introduce myself. When the moment came I turned around and, to my surprise, she passed me a note. I put it in my pocket pretending it happened all the time. Continue reading