Answering the Call: A Young Man's Journey to the Priesthood
The law of love, the Cross, is the answer to the messiness
Father David Carter brings the idealism and energy of youth to the priesthood; yet, he also has a maturity and wisdom far beyond his thirty-one years. He is a holy priest. He could have been whatever he wanted in this life, enjoyed everything that the secular world has to offer. So why did he give it up and become a priest?
Father David Carter in front of Chartres Cathedral in France
KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - My first recollection of Father David Carter was when I heard that he was going into the seminary around thirteen years ago. He was a teenager. Father Carter represents the best of his generation. Unlike so many, he was not beguiled by the shallowness of this age or its false promises. Although he has grown much over the years, he brings the idealism and energy of youth to the priesthood; yet, he also has a maturity and wisdom far beyond his thirty-one years.
Father Carter is a holy priest. He offers the Mass with the utmost reverence. He is accessible and kind. He has the voice of an angel, and he is intelligent. He also has a Bachelors Degree in philosophy and advanced degrees in theology and canon law. He could have been whatever he wanted in this life, enjoyed everything that the secular world has to offer. So why did he give it up and become a priest? I interviewed him because I wanted an answer to that question. I found the answer informative and surprising. The interview is as follows:
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): What kind of environment did you grow up in?
Fr. Carter: I grew up in a conservative environment. I lived in Shreveport, Louisiana until I was eleven-years old. Then we moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. We had a strong sense of family and religion growing up. Other people in my life, such as neighbors and teachers, shared many of our values. They were moral people. As a result, my environment was healthy and stable. I wasn't exposed to a lot of the detrimental thinking and confusion of our time.
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): When you were a child, did you or your parents have any idea that you would become a priest?
Fr. Carter: No. I had a very normal childhood. My desires were like most young people my age. I wanted worldly success. I wanted to get married and have a family. When I was about fourteen, my religion teacher told us that God has a plan for us, that He created us and has a vocation for us. She told us not to be afraid to ask God what He wants us to do with our lives. I took her comments seriously and prayed about it. I thought about flying planes and being an architect. I also thought about public service jobs like being a fireman or a policeman or joining the military.
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): But I presume you were an angelic child?
Fr. Carter: Not really. During religious education classes, I was put out in the hall a couple times for cutting up in class. I even got into huge trouble once. My parents put me into a Catholic school when I was in the fourth grade. I guess because I was the new kid, I became a target of bullies. It got to the point that I could not take it anymore, so I fought back. But the principal caught me going ballistic on the other guy, and I ended up being expelled over the incident.
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): Well, then, did you have some sort of a conversion experience?
Fr. Carter: It was not any one experience. First of all, my parents always took us to Church on Sundays and holy days of obligation. I also remember those times when we prayed as a family. I was an altar server for many years. I was also involved in a youth group and the Boy Scouts. I became an Eagle Scout. Being in these organizations trained and molded me for a life of service. They gave me a strong desire to serve.
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): Did your desire to serve others influence your decision to become a priest?
Fr. Carter: Yes, but there were other experiences that influenced my decision as well. I remained an altar server throughout my high school years. When I was sixteen, I would usually carry the cross. It was heavy. After holding it a while, my muscles would fatigue. But I did not falter because I was doing it for the Lord. My pastor noticed my attitude and my effort, and on one of these occasions, he suggested that I might have a calling to the priesthood. I was flabbergasted. My first thought was no thanks. I was thinking about marriage, family and worldly success. However, I later met with the Associate Pastor. He was a young priest, and he had a strong influence on me. I also remember a sign on his office door encouraging vocations to the priesthood. It said, "For God's sake do something with your life."
Catholic Online (Michael Terheyden): Are there any other experiences you want to mention?
Fr. Carter: My high school civics teacher had us write an essay about where we wanted to be in ten years. The assignment helped me realize that I wanted things like peace, joy, and ...
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