So I thought it would be good for one of my first blogs to give you a little background of who I am and how I got here, hope you have some time.
I was born in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and raised in a small town just outside in Hauser, ID.
My parents, Gary and Stephanie, still live in the same house I grew up in. I have one older brother, Dom, who is in the Air Force and stationed in Colorado with his wife, Erica, and son DJ. I love my family very much!
I was raised Catholic, went to Mass every Sunday as a family.
I grew up loving to play sports, my favorites were baseball, football and wrestling.
Graduated from Lakeland High School in Rathdrum, ID, went on to college at the Air Force Academy Prep School and later to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO. Graduated from the Academy, entered the Air Force where I served for 7 years as an Acquisitions Officer.
In college I lived the life of a prodigal son, straying from the things I was taught as a child. Had a big conversion just after I graduated and started going to a non-denominational church when I was stationed in Boston, MA.
I got re-stationed, moved to Manhattan Beach, CA where I got plugged into an amazing men’s bible study and young adult community with some of my friends from the Academy. It was through some powerful discussions with these men that I began to seek truth and study the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. It was also during this time that I was introduced to Youth Ministry with a solid organization called Young Life.
The more I sought truth, the more books I read, the more I listened to Protestant-Catholic debates, the more I studied the early Church and the writings of the early Church Fathers, the more I found myself drawn back to my Catholic roots. What ultimately sold me though was reading a book called Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid, where he told the story of 11 converts who became Catholic. It was here that I was pointed to the Eucharist. Either the Catholic Church was right and the Eucharist was truly the body and blood of Jesus Christ or everything else would crumble. After studying John chapter 6 and what the early Church fathers believed, disciples of the original disciples, I found the truth I was searching for, and I knew I had to be Catholic.
I started going back to Mass at American Martyrs in Manhattan Beach, where I was introduced to Life Teen by my friend Miguel and quickly became a core member. I was then deployed to Baghdad, Iraq for 6 months and my eyes were opened to what it means to be Catholic and Universal. There were multiple countries stationed at the base I was at and as I went to mass I was blown away that despite the fact the mass was in English they could follow along perfectly. I wondered if this would have been the case with the other churches I had been going to. It was during this time that I was affirmed that I was home.
I got re-stationed to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL and taught at the Officer Training School. I quickly got plugged into a beautiful new Life Teen family at the Church of the Holy Spirit and began volunteering as a core member. Through my involvement with Life Teen I began to have a hunger to do full time ministry, so I decided to put in my papers to get out of the Air Force and go get my Masters in Theology at Franciscan University where my girlfriend at the time was going to school. My application was accepted and I was planning to get out in 5 months.
About a month later I went to a young adult retreat in Florida where God began to destroy my plans. The first night of the retreat during adoration, God undeniably placed it on my heart that I needed to discern the Priesthood. The next morning I shared this with my girlfriend and we abruptly ended our year and a half relationship. During the break out sessions that day there was a talk on marriage and for whatever reason I went to it. After the amazing witness, the young woman made a 5 minute pitch on this mission program that she and her husband were starting at a camp called Life Teen Covecrest. Every aspect spoke to my heart, the prayer life, living in community, missions, ministry, working outdoors and a year to discern where God was calling me. I spoke to her afterwards, she told me to call her husband when I got back, set up a time to visit the camp. I went and spent 5 days praying to see if this is where God was calling me.
Two years ago I was accepted to the Life Teen mission program, and I am still serving as a Life Teen missionary focusing on local outreach in the community just outside Covecrest. I also had the opportunity to lead a group of missionaries to Ghana, Africa this past summer. A missionary this year asked me, “Erik why are you still a missionary?” I’ll be honest I can’t remember what I said, but the question has been lingering in my head. My response today would be this; I am a Life Teen missionary because I have never experienced greater joy and fulfillment doing anything else. Never in my life have I learned more about who I am, who God is calling me to be and how to love. There is no greater purpose in life than introducing others to the love of Christ, and this forum provides me the greatest opportunity to do just that. In my life, I have not experienced a greater need for Catholic missionaries than today. Pope John Paul II said in his encyclical mission of the redeemer, “I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes (to the nations). No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples.” His words have been echoing in my heart for the last two years. And why Life Teen you might ask, my answer would be this: I see what God is doing in this movement and I want to be a part of it and I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS FAMILY!