“The Best Decision of My Life!”

How I went from being at the top of my game in the business world to wearing a Roman collar.
by Br Nathaniel Haslam, LC | Source: Catholic.net

Just when we think we have everything figured out is when life likes to turn the tables on us. The priesthood was the last thing on my radar screen until age 22. How did I go from being at the top of my game in the business world to wearing a Roman collar? 

I was born in 1976 and grew up in Harrisburg, PA in a family of five. Although no one ever asked  me about becoming a priest, I served as an altar boy for 10 years at my local parish. Like other normal boys, I was a sports fanatic and played baseball, basketball, and hit the black diamonds skiing at every opportunity. After graduating as salutatorian from high school, I attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to study electrical engineering. Although my family had taught me to love God, I soon found myself living solely for money, girls, and a good time. God, however, is always at our side, patiently calling us back to himself. In the middle of studying, skiing, caving, and bar-hopping, I also experienced a deep desire to be closer to God. While striving to get the best job and have fun, my heart yearned for lasting fulfillment.

My dream of getting the highest-paying job in my graduating class of 1997 came true, but the money, friends, and dance clubs left me emptier each day. God had bigger plans for me than corporate success. By His grace, I came back to the Church, made a much-needed confession, and began a new chapter in life. The pivotal moment came one night when a good friend asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a priest. I fled from his question, but like a seed planted in good soil, it remained in my heart and began to grow day by day. Months later, I found myself watching a captivating sunset and asking God, “What is the best way to invest my life? How can I make a difference and help the most people?” The answer that echoed in my heart was clear:   “Be my priest. Come, follow me.”

Meeting and joining the Legionaries of Christ was the beginning of an adventure which became more exciting each day. I went on a “Test Your Call” retreat in 1998 at the novitiate in Cheshire, CT. What I found blew me away: 150 young men aged 18-25, all wearing black cassocks, happy, excited to become priests, and radiating love for Jesus Christ and a sense of mission to spread this love to all persons. While leaving my job, apartment, and dreams of marriage was difficult at the beginning, it was THE BEST DECISION of my life. Jesus Christ has rewarded me a hundredfold.

Eleven years have passed since I said “yes” to Christ. As I draw near to my priestly ordination, I thank God for this gift, as well as for those who had the courage to ask me about becoming a priest. Whether you are a young person, parent, or grandparent, I ask you to give this same gift to those around you. If the priesthood was the surprise God had in store for my life, maybe he wants to give this same joy to someone you know.

Br Nathaniel Haslam, of the Legionaries of Christ, studies for the priesthood in Rome.

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