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Looking Back at No Turning Back

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Marian Press recently published No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, 10th Anniversary Edition, by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. We sat down with Fr. Donald and talked to him about how he decided to make his conversion story public, and what it's meant to him to influence so many young men to discern with the Marian Fathers.

How did your conversion story first become public?
I was ordained in 2003, so it took me a while to write my autobiography. It wasn't initially on my radar, but people kept bugging me to do it. First, somebody saw a video-taped recording of me telling it and asked me to speak about it publicly. Eventually, people were encouraging me to put it into a book, because you can't speak everywhere. As I was thinking about it, somebody from Hollywood contacted me because they wanted to make my story into a movie. I was excited at first. But the manuscript made me look really horrible and didn't convey the right message.

I was discouraged by that, so I backed out of the movie and the book for a while. I picked up writing the book a couple of years later. When I finally did start writing it and sharing it with people, they said things like, "This is great. This is going to touch so many hearts and is going to give people hope." And I was thinking, "That's the key, to give people hope and the message of mercy." So, I followed through with writing it.

You became the vocation director for the Marians in 2005. Did you expect your story to influence so many young men to discern the priesthood, particularly the Marians?
I have to be honest, that's one of the greatest things to have happened in my life, how well that came together. God just set it up that way. I didn't ask to be vocation director. The video had been out. But then when the book came out a little later, a lot started happening with it. I received so many more invitations around the country to speak. So many more guys were calling me, telling me things like, "I wasn't as bad as you, but I've had my struggles. I didn't think I could be a priest, and it gives me hope!" It's been pretty amazing. I can only thank Jesus and Mary.

How do you not get prideful about being such a well-known instrument of hope?
The last chapter of No Turning Back is called "Ongoing Conversion," because as you know, the big conversion happened. It's over with. Then it's on with the reality of daily conversion and turning away from sin. I know my own sins. I go to Confession a lot, so I know my own weaknesses. If I'm ever tempted to think that I'm somebody special, that I'm something great, God allows me to fall flat on my face. Also, I don't bite off more than I can chew. I preserve my prayer life, good eating habits, and good sleeping habits. It's about balance, really.

Order your own copy of Fr. Calloway's No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy, 10th Anniversary Edition.

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