One Glimpse and Called by God

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“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mk 10:21)

Late November 2002, I was invited to help at a retreat in Edgerton, WI, when a brother Legionary invited me to make a trip to Rome. Honestly, I had hidden for a while that I had thought of the priesthood, but school, scholarships, acceptance into colleges, etc. seemed to occupy my mind more than anything else. But reconsidering, I thought I would give it a shot. So much had God done for me and my family, that to make the trip, to step outside of my comfort zone and let God work was a good idea. Problem: No money. At the time, my family was living at the grandparents because we were renovating our home, traveling 25 minutes to school every day. So using the land line internet, I went onto to see if there was anything “cheap” to go to Rome during the New Year. Well, the moment we had a shot at a cheap ticket, it was gone. A couple days before, I had just registered for my passport, but now, looking at the cost of the flight, it wouldn’t be possible.

Then the moment came. I walked up the wooden steps to the living room to talk to Dad. I told him that the trip wasn’t possible anymore. We had no money (I had to find people to sponsor me), and the trip got too expensive. At that very moment, Dad went down the creaky wooden steps to the computer in the basement, asked me to get him to the website for the tickets, and right there and then bought the tickets. In the meantime, I kept trying to convince dad not to do it. I knew my parents could not make a credit card purchase like that. But there was one thing that dad said as a great act of faith: If our Lord wants this to be paid for, He will have it paid for. I couldn’t believe it at first, but a week later when the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Knights gave $500 each for the trip and my aunt gave another $250 I knew our Lord wanted to make this trip possible. I took $300 of my own cash to spend. The passport came in 5 days before departure and off I went, the first time outside of the U.S.A. So I get my first experience of Rome…Lost baggage.

So I wouldn’t receive my bags until 5 hours later. Good thing I had essentials with me on the plane!

The first couple of days I don’t remember much about, except a priest whose tag line for the pilgrimage was “If we were tourists, we would see….but we are not tourists – we are pilgrims”. Later I would come to know him as Fr. John Bartunek. We visited St. Peter’s, the Scavi Tour (where the bones of St. Peter are), the other great basilicas of Rome, the Catacombs, etc. Honestly, I was having a great time, but the reason for coming wasn’t in the forefront of my mind.

That changed on Jan. 1, 2013, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. I had the grace to be a part of the mass. After realizing that we were going to get stuck near the columns and not the center isle of the Basilica, Patrick Hodgdon (a friend of mine from Minnesota) and I needed to do some evasive maneuvering to get our preferred seating. So, taking a step back to the columns, we let people pass us up in line to fill the last seats of the row and then immediately darted into the next row back to get to isle seats.

It was there that I realized that I would be within feet of Pope John Paul II, but wasn’t expecting that our Lord would speak to me at that very moment. When the Pope entered, I saw him up close, a man bent over in infirmity, barely standing with both his hands grasping the bar of his moving platform in procession. He wouldn’t even be the main celebrant of the mass that day. A man of such generosity and suffering, all for his flock.

At that moment, something struck me like a bolt…”and you David, are you generous with God?” It was an instantaneous thought that reached the depths of my heart. Was I being generous to God? I couldn’t say no to God anymore or at least ignore Him when it was convenient to do so. I had to respond, and there was a man there in front of me, His Vicar, who was teaching me what this response meant for my life. He said absolutely nothing to me, but at the end of the mass, I really believed he looked up directly at me as if to confirm what was in my heart. I realized right there and then, everything was about the change. Two days later, our Lord allowed me to seal that act of faith in incorporating into Regnum Christi, a step I avoided making for two years.

On January 3rd, I would walk down the statue of our mother, the same one I see every day now here in Rome, and consecrate my life to her, asking her to help me follow this call our Lord was placing in my heart. At 18 years old, I couldn’t believe how our Lord was teaching me so much about his love for me, especially through his mother. I stayed with her for a good while. How many times have I been reminded by her of that special day, on her Feast day on January 1st, that she was present with me there also in that mass.

I have never regretted that moment ever. In two days, we will celebrate the Canonization of this great saint, a saint through whom our Lord called me to serve him as a religious and a priest. I ask you all to pray for me through St. John Paul II’s intercession, that the generosity that our Lord called me to will continue to grow in my life, so that our Lord may transform my life to be a humble instrument for His Kingdom and the salvation of souls.




About Br David Parker

Br David Parker, LC, a native of Pulaski, WI, entered the Legionaries of Christ in June 2003. Currently he resides in Rome and is studying for a Bachelors in Theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.
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