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Fr. Joe Answers:
When I was growing up, my mother didn’t belong to any church. When I was in high school, after a long period of seeking and questioning, she decided to become a Catholic. Her older sister, my favorite Aunt, had taken instructions and been baptized a Catholic some years before. So two adults in my immediate family had found meaning and joy through becoming members of the Catholic church.
While I was attending Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California a Paulist priest, Fr. Elwood (Bud) Keiser, led a retreat day at the school. He spoke of the Paulist mission to share the gospel and the Catholic faith beyond the church doors. The Paulists tried to live out this mission in parishes, in adult education centers located in large cities, and on University campuses. They published books and produced radio and television programs to reach persons who would never dream of setting foot inside a Catholic church.
When I heard Fr. Bud’s story, I knew I wanted to explore becoming a Paulist priest. I had liked most of the priests from my parish and school and had occasionally thought of becoming one, but I was more interested in astronomy and later in a possible career as a writer or journalist. If I were to become a Paulist priest, I saw that I could use my interest in writing to help explain the Catholic faith to persons who were not Catholic but were, like my mother and Aunt, searching for the kind of meaning that the message of the gospel could bring them.
Except for Fr. Bud, I had never actually seen or talked with a Paulist priest. I eventually contact Fr. John Doyle, the chaplain at the Catholic Center at U.C.L.A. He invited me to dinner at the Paulist house in Los Angeles. I felt at home right away with the informality, good humor and energy of the Paulists I met. I applied to enter the Paulist seminary soon after. I’ve ever since felt “at home” with the Paulists and with their mission.