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How Can You Still Be Catholic

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A Broken Man Walks Into a Bar ...

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By Melanie Williams (Dec 4, 2017)
He went from a high paying job, night clubs, and a divorce to leaving it all behind, entering the Catholic Church, and answering God's call to the priesthood as a member of a Catholic religious order. Yes, we know: Marian Br. Timothy Childers' journey sounds highly unlikely.

Born in Tampa, Florida, to an English mother who was a practicing Anglican and a Baptist father who was in the U.S. Navy, Timothy Childers grew up a practicing Lutheran since the Lutheran church was closest to his house. Tim believed in God and that Jesus had died for his sins, but that was the extent of his faith. His pastor, Roger Robinson, became like a second father to him, and Tim began going to him with his questions regarding the faith. When his pastor passed away while Tim was in high school, Tim's church attendance also died away.

After being bullied at school for his size, Tim became severely depressed and started searching for fulfillment in the world — in possessions, money, relationships, and eating. After graduating from high school, he spent his time working and partying. He had a couple different girlfriends, one of whom he married — but it didn't last long.

After his divorce, Tim and his buddies began going to the bar on Friday nights. One fateful Friday, he was a couple hours late to the bar. When he arrived, there was only one seat left, next to a young woman named Tasha. She was talking with a young man, and Tim joined in. Tasha was a newly converted Catholic and eager to share her faith.

It was an election year, so politics and faith became the topic of discussion — not typical for the bar scene.

It was also just before Lent, so Tasha asked Tim what Lutherans did for Lent. He had absolutely no idea.

She asked him if he went to church. No answer.

Tasha asked if he even wanted to go to Church, and to his own surprise, he answered, "Yes."

"I realized I had said 'yes,' but I had no idea where that answer came from," Tim said. "I realized there was something deeper inside me that was longing for God, and I didn't even know it."

The next Sunday, he returned to his childhood church, and for the first time in a very long time, he wanted to be there. He knew that his life was changing.

Tasha invited Tim to come to the Stations of the Cross at her Catholic parish, and it changed him. Praying the Stations involved a lot of kneeling and standing, and by the ninth station, he started to black out. Although he was experiencing the natural effects of fainting, he immediately knew that there was even more going on inside of him — something spiritual.

"I knew I was walking with the Lord in His Passion, and He in mine. I knew that suffering had a purpose," Br. Tim continued, "because of what Christ had done for me."

After the Stations concluded, he sat down and knew one thing: He needed to become Catholic.

In the following months, Tim learned as much as he could about Catholicism and went through RCIA. He was also introduced to St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body and learned about the priesthood. He soon realized he might have a vocation. Tim received an annulment for his marriage on Christmas Eve 2008 and entered the Church at the Easter Vigil of 2009. He wanted to stay local and be a diocesan priest, but he felt a tug to check out a religious order.

Tasha introduced Tim to the Divine Mercy message and devotion. This became integral to Tim's healing and reconciliation with God and neighbor. The message of God's mercy was exactly what Tim had been longing to hear after years of searching in the endless void of pleasures. The world had promised to bring him happiness, but he had found it incapable of filling the God-shaped hole in his heart. He also began praying the Rosary and came to know Mary as his Heavenly Mother.

The last piece that led him to the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception was the conversion story of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. Hearing Fr. Calloway's story brought Tim hope that Jesus' words to St. Faustina were really true: "The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 723).

After one weekend of visiting the Marians, Tim completely changed his mind about aiming for the diocesan priesthood and applied to enter the Congregation in August 2011. In 2016, Br. Tim professed his perpetual vows, meaning that he was vowing to be a member of the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception for his whole life.

"Much like St. Augustine," Br. Tim noted, "before I intimately knew God, I was searching for Him without knowing it. God now uses all of my past sins and experiences so that I can speak to others who are in similar situations, knowing what it's like to be where they are at. That gives them a sense of hope."

This past May, Br. Tim graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville with a BA in philosophy, and he has now begun his coursework in theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. He expects that, in a few short years, he will be ordained to the priesthood.

"I am thankful to all of our Marian Helpers for their support and prayers," said Br. Tim, "which have made it possible for me to be a Marian for the rest of my life."

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