No Turning Back

From runaway teen to Marian Priest: Fr. Donald Cal... Read more

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From run-away teen to Marian priest, Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, has inspired thousands to trust in our Lord's mercy. The following is part two of a two-part series excerpting from his new book, No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy (Marian Press). To read part one, click here.

I had come to know that The Divine Mercy message and devotion were one of the greatest gifts that God had given to the Church in our times. I had fallen in love with this message and the great secretary of God's mercy, St. Faustina Kowalska. At the core of this message and devotion is a spirituality of trust. As many people know, at the bottom of the image that depicts Jesus as The Divine Mercy is the inscription "Jesus, I trust in You!" It is precisely that spirituality of trust that I had welcomed into my life and wanted to tell others about.

So when I found out that the Marians were like the guys on the front lines when it came to spreading this message, I so wanted to be a part of that. As a matter of fact, Pope John Paul II even told the Marians in 1993 that they were to be apostles of Divine Mercy under the maternal mantle of Mary. What more could I ask for than being a Divine Mercy priest!

But what also excited me was that the Marians were orthodox and faithful. They clearly loved the Eucharist, the Pope, and observed the teachings of the Church. There were also young men there who were on fire and talked of Marian apparitions. They spoke about all the things that were really important to me and had brought me to Christ and the Church.

As the weekend came to a close, I was so enthused about what I saw and heard that I told Fr. Dunn I wanted to stay. I didn't even need to return to Virginia; I offered to have my stuff shipped up to Washington, D.C. Father Dunn appreciated my enthusiasm, but he chuckled and said, "There's a little more involved to this process than that. Why don't you go home and pray about it. Then, if you decide to apply to our community, I will send you an application and we will begin the process."

When I went back home, I began praying. I felt an emptiness about not being with the Marians, which indicated to me that this was where God was calling me. I wanted to bear Mary's name, and this was the perfect opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Marians were honest and up-front about my prospects for acceptance. "You have a past-and-a-half," said the Washington house superior, "but if God is calling you to our community, we don't want to get in the way. We want to be open to God's will."

However, I learned that the application process wasn't the only obstacle I had to overcome. Becoming a priest is typically a long process, and it would be even more protracted for me. Normally, it takes approximately six years to become a priest, but in the event I was accepted, I would have an extremely long formation. For me, it would take about a decade — owing to the fact that I not only lacked a college degree, I didn't even have a high-school diploma.

I was only 20 years old, so at the time, a decade amounted to half my life. Yet, while the time commitment seemed daunting, I felt like I had nothing to lose. In my mind, I felt like I should have been dead already. Now I was getting a second chance.

"Don't get discouraged thinking about the length of time," counseled the house superior in Washington. "Always keep in mind that wine that ages over time is better." If that were the case, I would be like a very fine wine because the long journey towards priesthood would assure I was going to age for a long, long time.

I formally applied to the Marians in early 1993. Next came the formal application process, which proved difficult. Because of my background, remembering, reviewing, and explaining my past was trickier for me than for most applicants. Like any other prospective candidate, I had to fill out a form that covered my family history and education, plus I had to provide my confirmation certificate, my baptism certificate, and all my high school transcripts. I also had to deliver seven reference letters and undergo a daylong psychological exam — one that involved answering an awful lot of inkblot questions. Finally, I had to write a five-page autobiographical essay and submit to a comprehensive medical exam.

After doing all of this, all I had to do was wait for an answer from the provincial superior and his four provincial councilors. Patience wasn't yet one my virtues, so the waiting for an answer was agony.

When Fr. Dunn called and notified me that I had been accepted into postulancy — the first year of formation — I was ecstatic. My mother was equally thrilled. At that point, I had been Catholic for almost a year, yet the Marians still decided to accept me and give me a chance. It was amazing that I was actually going to do this and, in a sense, live like they did in the early Church, where everything was going to be about Jesus and Mary and striving to save souls. Miracle after miracle was happening, and everything I had hoped for was coming true.

For more information about Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, please visit his website, www.fathercalloway.com.

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MARIA CARLOS - Jan 26, 2010

Hi Fr. Donald,
I am very fortunate to know you and learned about your conversion experience thru your DVD and soon, your new book. I am a Filipino in blood but now residing in Canada. I belong to a group (DIVINE MERCY APOSTLES OF BRANTFORD) and I am happy to let you know that we are going there this year (July 28-30). Our group is excited to see you (hopefully, you will be there) and meet you. We are all your fans and are very inspired by your story. You are a good example to others esp. who had lost their faith and needed a conversion experience like yours. We all have struggles in our own families esp. those who are away from our Catholic faith. Please, be there Father Donald, when we visit the shrine in July. We really love to meet you in person. THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR CONVERSION EXPERIENCE. Please pray for our Monsignor, only the Divine Mercy knows why........

rachel - Jan 28, 2010

Dear Fr.Callolway, thank you for your witness to your Way back and as well to the witness of Mother Mary's Love for you. I've too thankfully learned by Her gentle Ways, that Mother Mary is neccesary for getting us into Heaven by Her intercession with Her Most Holy Son Our Lord Jesus Christ. St. Louis Grignon clearly tells us this in the book -Preparation for Total Consecration according to Saint Louis Marie de Montfort. I could not get in all I would Love to say about Mother Mary ever, so, I guess trying to say that it is agreed with you that She got you to where you are through Her Son Jesus. How "wonderful" that you have acknowledged that to us all. Also, how you shared The Stations of The Cross, Jesus' Passion as being a huge part of your Conversion too, as well as of course as Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament wheter you are Catholic yet or not gets us all where we need to be. even if we are not even able to recieve GOD in The Blessed Sacrament yet. This witness of yours, can deeply show us all so much more clearly the Power that GOD has in His Church, and His Mother Mary. "Thank you for this". I'm actually writing not only to express these thanks, but, to ask you for greatly needed prayers for myself of course, but also for my family as well. My oldest son left The Church sometime back, his life has gone down a path that needs much prayer. Mother Mary knew how little I knew and how little I could teach him, so, by a miracle of Grace, She prayed for me and enabled me to take my children to the Nine First Friday Communions of Gods Sacred Heart, so that our souls would not be doomed to hell, and too that our lives could be more abundant even too, by the
Graces GOD desired for us by His Precious Blood and Passion for us. I pray my husband will someday make these Masses too. Gods Divine Mercy also pulled me out of lack of knowledge and confusion.... a long story, but I do believe that all true conversions have started with the guidance of Mother Mary, and her husband St. Joseph who helps us out of Egypt it seems. Well, I've said a lot, I pray not too much, but, a deep intention is "please pray for us", and "Please" pray my son comes back to Our Lady and Our Lord. My heart is so sorrowful, yet, gives itself I pray to our Mother's Sorrowful Heart. I have two sons and a daughter. Thank you and God bless you in The Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, rachel

Mrs. M - Jan 28, 2010

Fr. Don,
I just recently heard your conversion story on CD from Lighthouse Catholic Media. What inspired me the most was how Mary's role in your conversion and life. It gave me hope for my husband, who is struggling greatly right now. Hearing how Mary kept you safe in her loving mantel gave me reassurance that she is keeping my husband safe as well. Thank you for your open-ness and please say a prayer for my husband.

VCH - Jan 29, 2010

Dear Fr. Calloway: I wrote you earlier to your Facebook page, requesting prayers for my son's recovery from depression/addictions. I wanted to tell of prayers/rosary said to our Blessed Mother when he was about 8 yrs. old. He came to me with a wish that something good might happen to him. I told him we would kneel down and say a Rosary to our Blessed Mother Mary with his request. Later that evening, we went to his Little League Baseball game, where he was way out in the outfield, a small sad boy. His team was losing the game by one. The other team was up, hit their baseball and like a magnet it made its way right to his small baseball glove, a fly-ball. By him catching this flyball, they won the game and with shouts they picked him up and carried this little guy off of the field, as their hero. He was so happy. I always remind him, now that he is an adult, that our Blessed Mother loves him, cares for us all, and even small requests are listened to. Also, he was a very small premature baby when born and not expected to live.

Michael Casey - Jan 29, 2010

Hi Father Donald,
When I read your conversion story I began to laugh, not at the zeal of your love for Jesus and Mary but for the fact it was similar to mine. My Journy begining at the age of 43 years old was amazing. I had a very difficult time for many years because of old ways that would not let me be at peace but by the grace of God, through the intercession of Our Lady I found the way. It took me awhile to learn that my vocation was 1st my marriage, children then my work. I struggled with this for years. The zeal I had that I had to do something, anything, manifested a real hidden pride. When I look back now I can't beleive how I was but as stated previously Marys kind and gentle hand kept me from going over the edge. Jesus has used me to do his will and help and reach out to others but like so many we wait for our family to embrce Our ladys love for them and Our Lords Mercy. It can be very hard but through the work he has set before me I've been strengthened by all the amazing people who he has put in my path. If people only new just how merciful he is they would never lament, ever. I'm going to purchase your book and look forward to reading it. God Bless you and all our Marian brothers and sisters.

Your friend and brother in Jeus Christ
Mike

Ileana - Jan 30, 2010

I read your book in one day, Father. It's a great book and I am so thankful to Our Lady for bringing you to the loving mercy of her Son Jesus Christ. God bless you for sharing your painful past with us. I know God will use it to help many others. I encourage people to buy it and share it with everyone they can.

Deacon Tim - Jan 30, 2010

Greetings, Father!

I can't wait to get your book. I am a Deacon in NJ, having been ordained in 2005. About 6 years ago, my wife and I heard a time share pitch not far from the National Shrine. We saw a sign for it as we were leaving to go home. We always try to visit shrines and the like, so we went to visit. We heard mass,toured the grounds, and bought books and literature (most of the literature was for the parish). I may have been living under a rock, but this was my first real introduction to the Divine Mercy. I read the Diary and other books on St. Faustina and related devotions. I am now trying to organize prayer Cenacles in our Diocese. Like you, I was swept off my feet!

Our stories touch on some ways, as well. I was in formation for ten years, when it usually takes 5. When I starter discernment, our Bishop was not overly eager about more Deacons, so any class we took was later considered as outside the curriculum. I did drop out in Sept, 2001. In April 2002 I was very unsettled, and asked to return to the program. The Vicar for Clergy and the Head Deacon were kind, and I was placed back with my original group.

Also, I have been recovering from Mr. Barleycorn for 20 years now, so I feel your struggle as to how your past would be accepted. Thank God that the prodigal son's Dad didn't feel like blaming his son! Few understand the old malady, but for us recovery is a constant source of gratitude.

Thank you so much for sharing your life with us. It is inspiring how the Lord works through people! Even St. Faustina was told to listen to her spiritual advisor.

Me? I listen to my wife!

s - Jan 31, 2010

Thanks . Please pray for a person heavily injured in a road accident for miraculous healing. Eternal Almighty Father," Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven". "JESUS, i trust in You". St. Maria Faustina, Apostle of Divine Mercy, pray for us.

winmart adelantar - Feb 1, 2010

Ive just finished reading the excerpts from your book fr. don. Im very happy to know that my kababayans (Filipino women) played a vital role in your story. Im very inspired to continue my application process with the marians here in the philippines. please pray for me.
(now 1 thing i hope for: that someone give me your book coz i believe it is not yet available here in the philippines)

Mary Ann - Feb 18, 2010

Dear Fr Donald,

I just read the excerpt of your conversion story. It was so thrilling and exciting. I was laughing and in tears at the same time. Didn't like it when I got to the end because I wanted the story to continue. Why?, because for me it was such a powerful testimony and a reminder of the love of God and the Blessed Mother that so many trials, tribulations, afflictions, bereavement, disappointments, and temptations has caused me to occasionally doubt. At the same same time, I was so excited because your story placed me at the center of my Father's house and I watched our Blessed Mother playing her loving maternal role in the life of us her unworthy children in our Father's house.

Your story for me is an inspiration and a reassurance of God's unconditional and perfect love for me, His unworthy child no matter what I may be going through now. God will surely make all things beautiful in His time. I also experienced an inner healing of doubts and a strengthening of faith and I'm so happy that I am a child of God. He makes all things beautiful in His time for "He has done all things well".

I love our Lord Jesus and our Blessed mother Mary dearly. By the way, my walk in life is to Jesus through Mary. Yes, walking with Mary is an assurance that we'll get to our destination, JESUS, the CHRIST, our God, Redeemer and Brother.

I pray that the Lord Jesus will sustain you in the holy vocation He called you to through the intercession of Mother Mary. May the Lord grant you many more fruitful years in His Vineyard.

Please pray for me too for the intentions I laid at the feet of the Divine Mercy and the Blessed Mother.

I've got to get a copy of your book, I need to learn the whole story and then share it with as many people as I can.

God bless you always