Fr. William Hayward, MIC

During the Eucharistic Prayer at Holy Thursday Mass in 1981, I received the call I had been avoiding. I knew within a moment that God was calling me to be a priest. I was 22-years old, living in Ellensburg, Wash., becoming settled in St. Andrew Church and the local community. I was proud to be recommitted to Jesus Christ as a Catholic and eager to grow my career in land surveying. Now this.

I grew up in Syracuse, N.Y., but I loved the American West with its open spaces and beautiful vistas. I was not eager to move back East. Sensing that community life was important for me, I contacted a distribution service that would send my name to religious congregations who would contact me. One day I received an envelope with the return address "Marian Fathers, Thompson Connecticut." I almost discarded it. "I'm not moving to Connecticut," I told myself.

However, it had a typewritten letter and a signed signature. The vocation director invited me to share my ideas of what it would be to be a priest. I quickly jumped at the chance, eager to write about my call and my growing acceptance of God's will in my life. After several exchanges, he invited me to visit the Marians.

I found then in the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception what I am proud to still see today: authenticity. The life and ministry in which the Marian Fathers engage demand men of authenticity. Whether we minister in parishes, promote Divine Mercy, teach in schools, or preach retreats, we are called to be authentic men of God. We don't hide our faults and deficiencies behind a facade of feigned holiness. We work on them, trusting that God uses events and people in our lives to mold us into the image of Jesus Christ. And we see that love is necessary to keep our community together and committed to the founding vision of Blessed Stanislaus Papczynski and the renewed vision of Blessed George Matulaitis.

I am exceedingly grateful to God for my life as a Marian Father.