I grew up in a typical New York, Irish Catholic family where the faith was loved, treasured and passed down to me. However, when I was still young my family moved to North Carolina. I no longer had any Catholic friends, and I began to lose the faith I had learned at home. My interest in sports grew; by middle school I was competing in surf and skateboard competitions. By high school I had earned various cooperate sponsorships, and I became an amateur professional downhill skateboarder (meaning I was paid to travel and compete). At this time of my life, I was happy to be paid to travel with my friends and compete but, despite the excitement and success, I felt a deep restlessness within.
No matter where I went or how well I performed, I always felt a desire for something more. Eventually I realized skateboarding could not fulfill me. I decided to end my skateboarding career and go to college to study photojournalism and filmmaking.
This shift eventually brought me to New York to work in the film industry. Once again, I was generally happy to achieve my goals, yet the longing and restlessness I had first felt in high school only seemed to grow deeper and more apparent. In my free time, I found myself wandering into the beautiful Catholic Churches all over Manhattan and, in little moments of silence, praying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. More and more I began to notice and desire the deep peace I found when I stopped to spend a few minutes with Our Lord hidden in the tabernacle. This peace was so different from anything I had experienced in my life that I could not help but stop in to every Catholic Church I’d pass. I began to look forward to Mass and these moments when I could encounter our Lord in the Eucharist.
At first I kept my little times of prayer to myself, hidden from my friends in the art world. Then one Sunday, I decided to ask some friends with whom I had dinner plans to attend a Mass followed by a young adult social with me before going out to dinner. The social was canceled, but as we walked down the street I noticed a few CFR Sisters going in and out of the church’s basement. Unexpectedly, I felt compelled to speak with the sisters. Against my friends’ wills, I entered the basement to introduce myself to the sisters, and found myself suddenly asking to volunteer with the poor. Almost to my surprise, the sisters said I could come to their soup kitchen the next weekend! My friends were a bit shocked, but I did end up going to the convent to volunteer. What I found—from receiving our Lord at Mass, to washing dishes, to the smiles from the sisters and the poor—was the love of Jesus. I knew without a doubt that this experience of love, peace and joy could only be from God. As I left the convent and walked across Central Park, I knew Jesus was inviting me into a much deeper relationship with Him.
Through this encounter with love, my life changed from that day, and I couldn’t help but wish to accept whatever God had in store for me. I spent the next three years growing in my relationship with Him, getting to know Who He is in a much deeper way, and learning how to live, trusting in Him. From my first visit to the convent as a volunteer at the soup kitchen, I sensed that the Lord had created me to live this life. This conviction only grew as I got to know Our Lord and the community over the next few years. Despite my plans of becoming a professional skateboarder or successful filmmaker, I found God inviting me to an even more radical life—a life totally for Him! Trusting in His love for me, by His mercy, I entered the Community on October 3, 2021.