By Gordon Nary
Gordon: Would you mind sharing a little bit of your vocation story?
Brother Anthony: Sure! As a kid, I was adventurous, big-hearted, and entrepreneurial. I wanted to be a professional football player, or maybe a politician or businessman. No matter what I ended up doing, I had a firm conviction that I was going to do a lot of good in the world. I grew up Catholic, but I wasn’t very spiritual or even interested in the faith. I cannot tell you what my opinion of the priesthood was because it hadn’t even crossed my mind as a possibility.
In junior high, all of the ‘important stuff’ (popularity, football, and girls) was going well for me. For some reason, though, I felt that my life was not heading in the right direction, mainly because of my group of friends at the time.
This wasn’t a thought from the spiritual perspective; even in the worldly sense, I just had a feeling we were going to end up losers: addicted, narcissistic, dependent, in prison, or dead… an insight that proved to be true much sooner than I thought. I really didn’t know where to go or what to do.
When I was fourteen and trying to juggle football practices and band camp one summer, I agreed to participate in a Catholic sports tournament in Baltimore. During the tournament, a priest gave a talk to the six thousand people that were there. But I felt like the only one in the room. He said something that struck me like nothing ever had before:
“You are only happy in life if you do what God wants of you, what God created you for.”
Immediately, I felt very strongly that God wanted me to attend a Catholic boarding school for boys in New Hampshire and that I would be happy there. I still don’t know why I wanted to go to this particular school, but I saw it as an adventure and a chance to find a new group of friends.
When I presented this to my parents, they were perplexed. In their minds, it had all happened so quickly and I had worked too hard in preparing to go to my high school to just change my mind. In a few days, however, they agreed to let me go.
Years later, my parents told me that this was the first time I had ever told them I wanted to do something because God wanted me to do it. Even though this was new and surprising to them, they had the faith to cooperate with what God had placed in my heart. They knew it was genuine because I wasn’t smart enough to manipulate my parents by saying, “God wants me to do this…”
Even arriving at the school, I felt very at home. Through the most curious of circumstances, and by God’s providence (or should I say, humor), I found out it was a high school seminary for young men discerning a call to the priesthood. At the time, I was not even open to considering the priesthood, yet since I felt at home, I decided to hang around. What this school gave me was a richer and deeper spiritual life that eventually enabled me to see that God might be calling me to serve him, and I began to see that as something beautiful and worthwhile!
Thus, upon completing high school, I joined the seminary, and God has gradually and beautifully revealed his plan for me. I have lived and worked in six different countries, studying, working at Catholic schools, and giving business ethics presentations or Vatican tours. Through it all, and after many years of discernment, I feel affirmed that God is calling me to the priesthood with the Legion of Christ.
Gordon: When you received your vocation, why did you choose the Legionnaires of Christ ?
Brother Anthony: Even before I thought about becoming a priest or a Legionary there was always a certain connection with the Legionaries I met. I am not talking about the friendship type of connection but the connection I felt when I heard them preaching. I realized that they looked at the world with the same type of optimism and missionary zeal that I could identify with. The Legion was also the way I learned about and fell in love with my faith, so during my discernment while I had considered other possibilities it became fairly clear that through my experiences God was leading me into my vocation as a Legionary priest.
Gordon: When you finish your studies in Rome where will you go? When will you be ordained?
Brother Anthony: I will be finishing my Bachelors in Theology this June. In July I will be ordained to the Deaconate in Houston, Texas and then begin my missionary assignment. I still won’t know where my assignment will be until about May so as you can imagine this is all a very exciting period for me. My priestly ordination if all goes as planned will take place in Rome on May 4th, 2019. Please keep me and my brothers in your prayers!
Gordon: You just wrote a book. Could you tell us what it is about?
Brother Anthony: Yes, I wrote a book for Millennial Catholics called ‘One Step Closer 40 Doses of Motivation, hacks, and experiences to share with Millennial Catholics’ It is a book that introduce the spiritual life to young people through inspiration and motivation while at the same time giving them practical tools with which they can develop their spiritual life with God’s grace. A year ago I never though I would have written a book but for a while I had been sharing Catholic motivation material to millennials on Instagram and so the book became a spin off of that project. You may find it on Amazon.
Gordon: You give tours of the Vatican in your free time. Why do you like giving tours?
Brother Anthony: It is very true that Iike giving tours of the Vatican! I have given over 250 of them in my five years in Rome. Simply walking through the Vatican and explaining the history, the art and the symbolism helps many people to have a very profound spiritual and humanistic experience. I do it because I have seen first hand the impact such a profound experience can have. I have had people crying because the Gospel story told through an artistic story helps us realize what God’s message means in our own lives.
Gordon: You use social media very effectively/. Is social media a helpful resource in spreading Christ's Word?
Brother Anthony: Thank you! Venerable Fulton Sheen has always been a great inspiration to me in how he so effectively communicated the Gospel message. His dedication in preparing himself through prayer and study is something I need to imitate greatly. Social media is definitely a great resource as you mention. I don’t see it as substituting anything the Church already has but rather as an additional opportunity in spreading God’s message. I believe authenticity is a key and the more we can authentically communicate who we are and why we believe as a Church I believe the world will be much better off.
Gordon: Where can you get the best gelato in Rome and what is you favorite flavor?
Brother Anthony: I have two favorite places. The ‘Firgidarium’ by Piazza Navona and ‘Oldbridge’ next to the Vatican Walls. My favorite flavor has to be Mango. It probably has to do something with my gusto for all things tropical!
Gordon: Thank you for a super interview and I hope that many of our readers will order and read your exceptional book.