More stories of great priests

More stories of great priests

One of my roommates from Franciscan University of Steubenville will be on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” this Thursday (and repeated on Friday and Sunday). Father Kevin Gillen is now the vocations director for the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT) and they will be talking about their newly ordained priests.

Father Kevin has a great conversion and vocation story. He grew up in a typical Irish-American home in Rockaway Beach, New york, just outside the City. He became stockbroker, living the life, dating models, and all that. Meanwhile, his older sister Maureen, one of the first female officers to qualify for Army Airborne, had undergone her own conversion experience and was leaving a promising career to study theology at Steubenville. However, she struck down by a rare disease and died just months later. Then, Fr. K’s dad, after telling his family that he had been having conversations with his deceased daughter who was telling him about heaven, died of a heart attack a few months later. Kevin had a crisis of faith, but being a Catholic who wasn’t living his faith, he began searching for answers among the New Age types.

Eventually (by another series of amazing events; too much to go into here), he discovered the story of what was going on in Medjugorje. He also discovered the Our Lady, Queen of Peace Chapel on Wall Street, made his first confession in a long time. Within the space of three months, he had ditched his own lucrative career, gone on pilgrimage to Medjugorje, decided to become a priest, and enrolled at Steubenville. In another amazing series of events, both his younger brother and other sister also had their own major conversions (great stories in themselves).

I have never met anyone who was so sure of his faith and of his calling as Fr. Kevin (except perhaps my friend Fr. John Klockeman who was also in Steubenville at the same time, preparing for the priesthood). It was great to live with him as he discovered the faith he had been baptized into, the excitement in his eyes as he read about St. Francis and other saints. Seeing all these things new through is eyes reinvigorated my own faith.

I miss my friend who has given his life to his vocation and his religious order, but I am glad that he has given himself so fully to Christ and His Gospel.

N.B. Another one of my good friends from Steubenville, Mark Ropel, is now also a priest of SOLT. He was a captain in the US Army, Airborne and Ranger. He was a friend of Fr. Kevin’s sister at the time of her death and her witness propelled his own conversion.

Don’t miss this show. It should be good.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli