Former Skeptic Devoted to Rosary, Mary

Though raised Catholic, Br. Sean, MIC, remembers when he considered himself a skeptic of Catholicism.

"From around seventh to 10th grade, I became more of a scientific skeptic and self-styled intellectual. I didn't make a decision to reject the faith, but I didn't believe," said Br. Sean of Chandler, Arizona.

His mother, however, insisted that he make his Confirmation - "to the point of shutting the doors of the vehicle and driving away and leaving me at church so that I would have to go to the life teen youth group after Mass," Br. Sean said.

During one youth group meeting, a teacher gave a talk about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

"[He talked] about a priest in the eighth century who was doubting the Real Presence, and so Jesus proved it to him by not only transubstantiating but transaccidentiating - I think I'm the only one who uses that term - the bread. [So it] turned visibly into heart tissue, and the wine turned visibly into blood ... [As the teacher spoke], the Holy Spirit filled me with the gift of faith ... which broke down the walls and let me accept this as true," he said.

As Sean grew in his faith, he started reading a book by Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, which defended the truths of Catholicism.

"That raised the idea in my head for probably the first serious time of the Catholic Church upholding Mary as really, really special," he said. "[But] I did not really experience [Marian devotion] in my life then."

For three years during his mid-20s, Sean worked as a missionary for National Evangelization Teams (NET) ministries of Canada, a Catholic organization that sends out young adult groups to run retreats at parishes and Catholic schools.

One night as a missionary, a peculiar image of the Blessed Virgin Mary came to him in prayer. "[She was] going through the sky holding a giant Rosary, and I grabbed the cross part and held onto it, and she flew me through the sky. That was the beginning of my Marian devotion," he said.

Sean interpreted this as an invitation from Mary. He believed she would bring him somewhere by way of the Rosary.

"That's when I went from the Rosary being 'this thing that I accepted Catholics doing' to 'this thing that's for me, too,'" he said.

Sean felt the call to the priesthood in August 2011. He put it off, though, until the fall of 2012. After reading the autobiography No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy (Marian Press) by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, he felt inspired to call Fr. Calloway and make plans to attend the Marians' next vocation retreat that December. That retreat took place the same weekend as the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, the patronal feast day of the Marian Fathers.

On that feast day, Fr. Donald spoke to the prospective seminarians on the topic of Marian devotion. "He was talking about not just devotion to Mary but [having] a real relationship of love with her as Our Lady. I hadn't heard that idea before that there is something more than devotion," Br. Sean said. "I thought, 'I'm not sure if I want to be this kind of priest he's talking about, but I definitely want to be this kind of man he's talking about.'"

He continued, "I had been doing the 33-day preparation for consecration to Mary, according to St. Louis De Montfort, to finish on [the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception] for the first time. ... So at the end of the night, I wrote out the words of the consecration in the room in the Marian house in Steubenville, [Ohio], where I was sleeping for the weekend."

On the flight back home to Arizona, Br. Sean felt the call to apply to the Marian Fathers.
"I received this call, and I said to God, 'I'll apply, and if accepted I'll go and I'll just keep going each step until You block me off or You call me at least this strongly in some other direction, but I know for now this is what You're asking me to do, so I'll do it,'" he said.

He joined the Marians in July 2013 and has been taking one step at a time ever since.


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