The Catholic Defender: The Rise of a Testimony and Witness
My reversion to the Catholic Faith occurred as a result to my Mother's invitation for me to attend a Cursillo weekend at Carthage Missouri October 1978. At the end of the weekend I was given a chance to share my experience and how this weekend had impacted me. I first gave thanks to my Mother whose love for me and her concern for my faith. I publicly thanked her and said that what ever I do for the Lord from here on out, I will do in her honor. I said this not knowing my Mother was in the crowd and she stood up surprising me but her response I never will forget. She was so happy.
I would later become my Mother's sponsor into the Church, for years she had to wait until her divorces were resolved from a distant past. She did receive the Annulment needed for Canon Law and that was a great grace. My Mother was raised in an Anti-Catholic environment and converted when I was about 4 years old.
The next few years, I left college, worked a job supporting a young family, and then joined the United States Army. Through those years, I continued to grow stronger in my Catholic Faith. People would come to my door to talk about the Faith. There was a Church of Christ Minister from Jerusalem who came to my door, at least when they left, they respected the Church more after leaving.
The Lord was grooming me with great Apologetics, in the latter 1970's there was no Scott Hahn, Tim Staples, or the Steve Rays that I could refer to. I did a lot of hours in researching the various issues people had with the Church. In those early days I would be debating them at that time. This experience would be very helpful as I learned how better to communicate the faith with those who were misinformed.
I began reaching people who had abandoned the Catholic faith bringing several back. I was also graced to see several more conversions as well. I would become a support to the various priests in my Parishes I lived. When I joined the Military, I brought that experience with me. No matter what was going on, my faith continued to grow.
In Basic Training I encouraged many to go to Mass which became an opportunity to get away from the barracks for a while. I had been conducting seminars at local colleges and churches through the Northern Arkansas areas before joining the Army. One story about that was a particular presentation conducted in Harrison Arkansas. Following my presentation people brought in about $10,000 worth of records, cassette tapes and other music from these secular groups to throw away. Burning records I found was a lot like burning tires, we caused a black cloud that sparked a lot of interest.
It came back to us that teenagers were running all other the place warning people that the Catholics were coming to burn your records. That was kind of humorous. Those were wild and crazy days! Even after joining the Army I continued to do these presentations in local churches, Catholic schools, and even the Rec Center on Ft. Stewart. Along with these presentations, I was active with on post church activities as well as off post. I was very involved with helping the priest with instructing adults.
My deployment to Germany in 1986 was the same, I taught the second grade CCD students preparing them for their First Holy Communion. My oldest Son Nathan would receive his First Holy Communion in Germany, one of my students would always be cutting up and acting out in class. I finally asked him why he could not control himself in class and his response floored me. He didn't think his parents loved him, he didn't feel loved which is heavy coming from an 8 year old.
I called for a meeting with his parents to talk with them and we had a great discussion, I was able to get this young man on my Son Nathan's baseball team and that made a huge difference. That whole family grew a lot from that experience. It was a great grace to see! I was having positive results with Soldiers and others about the Catholic faith. Field operations were always an opportunity.
At the time I had three Son's, Nathan, Joshua, and Jason who were my life. I will always cherish those memories when they were so young. My Daughter Petra would be born about a month before returning back to the States.
On returning to the United States in October 1989, I was stationed at Ft Campbell Ky and as before, I became involved with the CCD program and also RCIA. Off post a new Parish was developing in Oak Grove Ky right at the State line between Kentucky and Tennessee. I decided to attend there for the opportunity my children could experience a church off post. We attended both, but the new church was celebrating Mass in a Bingo hall and that was interesting.
Father was needing help with the many people seeking entrance into the Church. What a grace it was to lead the religious instruction during that time. We didn't have a church building so each week we met at someones home. That was really great, and the food was always excellent! We had about 60 people in a two year period.
In 1998 I received orders for Korea and was placed in the Camp Casey/Hovey posts and that was an experience. I was the lead Catechist supporting our Catholic priest serving the Catholic Community. That was a great honor. After a year, I returned to Ft. Campbell and served with the Meddac and the 194th MP Company. Those were great assignments and on my off times, I continued to support the local Church in Oak Grave. My children learned how to play guitar and drums while I was in Korea, that was a joy as we formed a band we called "Final Hour", I will always cherish those times.
In 2002 I received orders to New Orleans serving there for three years. I taught RCIA there as I have for several years, and I also served as CCD teacher for our Confirmation students. The auxiliary Bishop from Washington D.C. representing the Archdiocese of the Military chose our class to confirm our students and what an honor and grace that was. Through these times, there were so many events that I was graced to participate. One weekend on Friday I gave a talk at New Orleans for the RCIA, on Saturday, I gave another talk at Ft. Campbell, and on Sunday I gave a talk to a group in Morgan-town West Virginia. Now that is RCIA action!
My Military career was a great grace for me in what I experienced, from the American Southwest, to Saudi Arabia, to Kuwait, to Iraq. Germany, Korea, and Panama were great opportunities to give testimony and witness. I was able to accomplish much as a Combat Medic serving the Archdiocese of the Military in war and peace as an LEM in the field until 2007 and then a Lay Liturgy of the Word Leader in the absence of a Catholic priest.
I served the United States Army for over 26 years, was a Senior NCO for about half of that. This article is not meant to cover much of my work, I am proud to have served my Country earning a whole chest full of medals. As we move forward with this book that John Carpenter and I are putting together, the focus is on the spiritual. Thank God today that we have the Scott Hahns, the Tim Staples, and the Steve Rays and many more by the thousands. What a grace it has been to be a participant in the Catholic Church in these times. Pope St. John Paul II called these times the "Springtime of Evangelization", now that I have retired from the Army I keep a website, Deepertruthblog and an internet Radio, Deepertruth Radio. I am active member with St. Paul's Street Evangelization and The Marian Association in Missouri participating in Conferences. I founded the "Rosary Patrol" in Iraq in 2007, it is now a Facebook page where people pledge to pray the Rosary.