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David Flannery is spilling his guts and, in the process, apologizing for what he calls his broken train of thought. But there's no need to apologize. The train isn't broken. David is merely shunting some cars in the rail yard of his mind. His past. His present. His future. He's lining them all up, and everything's finally making sense.

He's just finished his shift for the day on the maintenance crew on Eden Hill, home of the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy, in Stockbridge, Mass. David, 21, took this job last spring with hopes of earning some money and getting his head together in peaceful surroundings.

He's in the Marians Helpers Center. He's wiping the sweat from his face. Something big has been stirring in his heart. He's sharing it with a willing scribe.

It's autumn now. He's loved this job. He's gotten his head together. And here's what it looks like when all the rail cars are lined up: He's of a one-track mind to become a priest, and that train is preparing to leave the station, and he's starting to glow with a happiness he's hitherto only seen in others and envied.

"God is lavishing graces upon me," he says. "God has smacked me across the face and said, 'Why can't you see that everything is mercy?' He has been blessing me abundantly to which I don't deserve."

He believes he's had a religious calling for years. He now understands he's spent the better part of his young adult life running away from it by means of the usual diversions: drinking, smoking, and other run-of-the-mill forms of purposeful lethargy.

"I turned 21 this past February," David says, "and it really started hitting me that the things I once found to be fun were no longer fun. And I remember thinking that maybe God was doing this on purpose to me in order to draw me back to Him."

Still, at first, he fought it — a "hard-core fight," he says, "like Mike Tyson."

He even considered joining the U.S. Marines and got as far as a recruitment office. There, a recruiter gave him a stack of cards, each printed with individual character strengths. David was told to pick three he hoped to gain through the Marines.

That was easy. Number one, David says, was "Self-Discipline" because he knew he didn't have any.

"But immediately when I said it, the first thought that popped into my head was, 'God can give me that, too," he recalls. He was immediately inspired to, first, not join the U.S. Marines, and second, simplify his life and to see what would happen as a result.

Through his mother, Mary, a guiding force in his life, David learned of a summer job available in the maintenance department on Eden Hill. Mary works here as a graphic designer for the Association of Marian Helpers. The job would entail raking leaves, trimming trees, cutting lawns, and doing general upkeep of the buildings and grounds. It sounded perfect. He got the job and started in April.

Eden Hill proved a spiritual catalyst for him. He began going to Mass at the Shrine. He was asked once to read the part of Jesus during the Stations of the Cross. He was a nervous wreck doing it, but it proved a watershed moment for him. It inspired him to go to confession, which, in turn, inspired him to realize that God is Mercy and that without Him, life is a miserable ordeal.

"Misery is the appropriate word," David says. "Some would call it 'depression.' I call it misery, and that was what I was experiencing. I was in the desert. It was nothingness."

Unwittingly, through the witness of their quiet presence, the Oblate Sisters of The Blessed Sacrament, who reside on Eden Hill, soon inspired him.

"The sisters have had a huge impact on what I would call my reversion," says David. "I've found that every morning I see them is a great morning. They are constantly happy, completely generous, and humble. I just remember asking myself, 'Why are they so happy?' And I just remember thinking, 'I want that. I want that happiness.'"

He defines that happiness: "It's not the kind of happiness that's dependent upon day-to-day factors." Rather, he says, it's "spiritual happiness" — the happiness that comes from closeness to Christ, from simplicity, and from suffering and self-denial done out of desire to live only for Christ.

It's all making sense.

David has agreed to continue working on Eden Hill through the winter. He believes God is calling him to be a Franciscan, like his Confirmation namesake, St. Maximilian Kolbe. He's already visited the Franciscans. "They really stress austerity and simplicity," he says, with a smile as bright as a headlight on a locomotive.

In the meantime, he's on Eden Hill — and it's home for now. "Home," he says, "in the sense that when I'm in the chapel I can let down my guard and just be. I am with my Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I am hers. And it is when I give myself, my troubles, and my burdens to her that I am truly free."

Let's all keep David Flannery in our prayers!

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David Flannery - May 21, 2009

I will keep them in my prayers. Thank you!

Ann Ireland - Dec 3, 2008

May Jesus continue to guide and bless you and hold you forever in the palm of His hand.
Please pray for a very special intention , if you would, next time you chat to Our Blessed Mother. I would very much appreciate your prayer.
Will keep you in thought and prayer.
Thank you.

roberto christian - Oct 29, 2008

Thanks for your testimony. I am praying for you too that jesus guide your way and protect you.

the Starczewskis - Oct 29, 2008

We are praying for your discernment process, David. May God continue to bless you and those you touch.

A servant of Jesus and Mary - Oct 28, 2008

Good luck David. May you feel at home whereever Jesus and Mary take you. You are in my prayers.

Veneranda - Oct 27, 2008

What a blessing to be called to do the work of God. I pray that by the mercy of Our Lord to achieve this heavenly call. Please remember me in your vocation. I have 3 unbaptised grandchildren it is my wish that their parents arrive at the decision as there is no obstacle only that they do not have the urge to do so.

David Flannery - Oct 25, 2008

Thank you so much for all your comments. May God Bless you abundantly. I will keep all of you in my prayers. Thank you. Ave Maria.

Uncle Dave - Oct 23, 2008

What a great piece!!! I find it very inspirational. May God bless you in your vocation Dave. I must admit that I feel very proud to be your godfather. Your whole family is proud of you and we will pray for you. Please remember to keep me in your prayers as well.

tom bailey houston tx - Oct 23, 2008

David, "Fear nothing:I am always with you. (diary 586), Trust in Jesus and His wil be done.

Numb soul - Oct 23, 2008

I just "LOVE" hearing these stories, it is SO ""LIFE""! Fear not,trudge ahead--it appears you have walked out of darkness carrying your spiritual lamp up high! There are others that need to see such survival,continue the strength in your spirit of faith in which keeps one on the "RIGHT PATH to GOD!"" SHOW MANY, LEAD MANY.. from Idaho..

Br. Angelo - Oct 23, 2008

I had the pleasure to meet David when I worked at the Shrine this past summer. David, I will definitely pray for you and for your discernment. God bless you for choosing to follow His call.

Lori - Oct 23, 2008

Hi Yes David I will keep you in My PRAYERS ..I ask you to Please Keep my daughter Megan in your Prayers she is a Cradle Catholic..she is Currently decerning the Religious life..A Nun..She been Having this Battle since she was 11 yrs of age ..and she is now 19..and going to a Catholic school...and she is Planning to talk to a Carmelite Sister when she comes home to visit..Just to talk...THankyou so very much...and God Bless....

Anita Eversole - Oct 23, 2008

Praise God! I remember the first time I saw you jumping out of your front door to greet us - strangers - that would be spending the week in your home. I thought "look, he'll be a priest". I remember the conversations we had and how my heart confirmed for me that you would be a priest. We will pray for you every Tuesday afternoon, David, as you discern God's direction. Keep in mind that it was God's mercy that brought you home, don't overlook the gifts bestowed upon you.
Blessings, Anita

Jan - Oct 23, 2008

What a beautiful story and an inspiring young man! David, I've been praying for you ever since I met you in August, and I know that God is calling you. I'm glad to hear that you're still on Eden Hill. They need you there and you need them. God bless you always and may God give you His peace and joy......

GP - Oct 23, 2008

What an inspiring story! Please keep Angie in your prayers. Angie is a 20 yrs old who rents a room from me and is going through a similiar situation. She is a wonderful young lady. However, her parents never baptist her or her two brothers. Since living with me, she is opening her heart to the grace of God, but is confused. Please keep her in your prayers that she will be open to the grace of the Holy Spirt so that she will become a member of the Body of Christ. David you are in my prayers.