I was raised Southern Baptist, with my paternal grandfather, 4 uncles and 7 cousins all being Southern Baptist ministers. So I grew up with all the typical rumors and fears of the Catholic Church.
But, in college, I had a roommate who was very Catholic and attended Mass weekly. Our campus had a late Mass (10 PM) and he begged me to go with him to Mass so that we could go straight to the local bar after to meet our friends. I hesitantly went and my life was changed. I quickly discovered that all of the rumors were wrong. A well delivered homily from a Jesuit priest one Sunday sparked a seed that had been planted in my heart long ago.
Returning home to Stratford for the break, I was left with many questions and a new curiosity. A fellow EMS volunteer was my go-to Catholic friend and answered all my questions. One day, he invited me to attend Mass. The shock on my face was evident when my EMS buddy, Fr. Dan, walked out to celebrate the Mass!
Years later, in 1990, I entered RCIA at St. James with my mother and was confirmed. I loved my new faith and was active in the Church. I felt a strong calling to do something more, as I had been involved in so many ways. Fr. Tom encouraged me to enter the priesthood, but I loved my career and was not ready to answer God’s call. He was calling me and I thought I would play “Let’s Make a Deal,” so I entered the Permanent Diaconate program. It seemed like a good compromise, as I was going to serve God and maintain my career. So I was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 2006.
But plans change and Bishop Lori lured me from my business career to become the Administrator of Blessed Sacrament Church in Bridgeport. Upon arrival, the challenges were great but something clicked for me, as I finally knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: serve God. In 2007, I entered Holy Apostles Seminary in Hartford, where a special curriculum was set up for me. In my second year, I was allowed to do field service as Administrator of Blessed Sacrament.
I was ordained a priest on May 16, 2009, and I am still happier than I have ever been. God was calling all along, but I wasn’t ready. During the time it took for me to decide that I was ready, God introduced me to skills, people and habits that I eventually would use to serve His people. My priesthood is a blessing and I am so glad that I listened to God. It is never too late to serve him.
By: Fr. Reggie Norman