Faith Witness

The fullness of joy is to behold God in everything.

St. Catherine of Genoa

Pat was baptized and raised Catholic, and is blessed to be the oldest child in a family that makes faith a priority. But, like many life-long Catholics, a personal relationship with Jesus wasn’t always at the center of Pat’s life. He grew up knowing a lot of things about God – prayers, responses at Mass, answers in religion class – but not truly knowing God. It wasn’t until the middle of high school that he was led to make the journey between his head and his heart.

As a sophomore in high school, a classmate named Mark invited Pat to a local Christian youth ministry event. Pat wasn’t very keen on going to church on a Tuesday night, but he had recently gotten his driver’s license, and was constantly looking for an excuse to use it. That night was the first of many conversions that God worked in Pat’s life. The community was welcoming, the music was passionate, and the pastor spoke on the topic of “Wimpy Christians” – Christians who go to church on Sundays but don’t act like it Monday through Saturday. As far as Pat was concerned, the Holy Spirit was talking directly to him.

It was no coincidence that right after this evening, a youth ministry program began at Pat’s home parish in Davenport, Iowa. He spent the rest of his high school years learning from his loving youth minister, growing on retreats, and discerning his vocation. God had begun to matter in daily circumstances.

College came with its typical highs and lows of faith, which were often very frustrating to Pat. At its best, ministering at a Christian summer camp, college retreats, and great friendships strengthened his faith. At other points, his faith was peppered with difficult decisions, troubling relationships, and struggles with balance. But through it all, God’s hand was at work, guiding Pat into full-time ministry and his own domestic Church.

Working in youth ministry has allowed Pat to be more certain of God’s presence than ever before, while always being challenged by his life-long call to be the husband, father, and minister that God created him to be. It’s with a thankful heart that Pat echoes the words of St. Paul: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective” (1 Cor. 15:10).