Father Dave talks with Brother Malachy, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal and soon-to-be priest, about his life-changing encounter with God, which inspired him to become a friar who serves others.
Brother Malachy’s teenage years were tumultuous. He was a self-described “skater punk,” and his behavior led to house arrest, expulsion from high school, and an addiction. At 19, he was living rent-free at home with one condition from his Catholic parents: that he attends Mass every week.
Brother Malachy kept his promise, and it was at one of these Masses that he listened to seminarians share their stories about entering the priesthood. Suddenly, he heard a voice whisper to him, “Would you be a priest for me too?”
At this point, Brother Malachy had never even considered being a priest and was so startled by this unearthly event that he ran out of Mass. Father Dave compares him to Jonah, who also ran away from God and refused to believe in God’s plan for him. After this, Brother Malachy became what he describes as a “neo-hippie” and continued living an unhealthy lifestyle, but that nagging question about the priesthood would continue to surface.
A transformation took place at a jazz festival in New Orleans. Sober and watching the people around him dance and drink too much, Brother Malachy realized that he didn’t belong there and that those people, who were very much like himself, were not happy. He told himself, “I don’t know what this means, God, but it has to be better than what I’m living now,” walked out of the festival, and went home.
Upon returning home, Brother Malachy ran into a priest on sabbatical in his town, and they got lunch together. He told the priest what he’d been going through, and the priest offered to give him the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Brother Malachy confessed that he felt ashamed of what his life had become.
After his Confession, the priest said that he had a wonderful heart, which caused Brother Malachy to begin weeping because “I knew in my heart at that moment there’s someone that knows everything about me that I hate and sees something wonderful there. There’s someone that sees all the brokenness in me and loves me there.”
Father Dave is elated to hear this, since he receives many calls from listeners who fear going to Confession, thinking that the priest will judge them for their sins, but what Brother Malachy describes is what we believe happens during Confession. The priest who is standing in for Jesus is supposed to see us how God sees us.
Brett points out that most people from Brother Malachy’s past wouldn’t understand his desire to become a priest, and he asks him what it was like telling his friends. Brother Malachy replies that most of them didn’t take his vocation seriously at first, but they did end up respecting his decision, even if they didn’t understand it.
Watch Brother Malachy and other Franciscan Friars of Renewal talk about their work with the poor on Ascension Press’ YouTube Channel Ascension Presents. (Original Air: 5/22/2019)