Many of us baby boomers grew up with the belief that life would not change a whole lot, once basic decisions about career, marriage, and family were made sometime our twenties. Looking back that notion of stability seems utterly ridiculous. We were, of course, imitating what our parents experienced. They were the Depression and World War II generation, which struggled for decades simply to survive, so that once they got a job they tended to keep it, or at least stay within a narrow field of work for decades.
It was with this sense of commitment and stability that I, at the age of 22, decided with joy to follow “the call” and forsake my original decision to become a dentist in order to become a Catholic priest. After five years in seminary, following a biology degree in college, I was ordained and believed not a whole lot would change regarding my basic vocation as a parish priest. I subsequently worked for and received two more degrees in theology in addition to my master of divinity degree and later a certificate in spiritual direction. I wrote and published. I became a painter. I was accomplished in liturgy, church history, education, architecture and art, evangelization, ecumenism and other areas of pastoral ministry.
Yet after 31 years and many experiences, I knew I needed to work in some other area, such as spiritual counseling or teaching. “Not possible!”, said the powers of the diocese. Burned out, bored, tired of the lack of vision from church leaders, and sensing that the gospel of Jesus was really no longer at the core of the church’s reason to exist, I left active ministry to find a new life.
In doing so I gave up job security, an excellent health plan, and any hope of a retirement benefit. I left with nothing, but found a new life and a new way of being a priest. I discovered that my next calling and passion would be life coaching. I would bring about the integration of body, mind, and spirit in order to change the world, one person at a time.
Without a doubt the one remark I have heard most often since leaving the active ministry is that I am courageous. And yes, I believe I am. The final third of my life will have a special meaning because of my courage to listen to my conscience. Good coaching can bring out the courage in anyone who needs to look forward in order to find his dream.
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