Father Adam Marchese, a Catholic priest from Winter Park Florida, tells us about a unique encounter he had while confessing his sins. This is an excerpt from the full interview on The Life of a Priest, a podcast available in the Tabella Catholic App.
Father Adam Marchese is a priest at St. Margaret Mary in Winter Park, Florida. He is also a military chaplain. Below is the transcript of this segment:
And actually her aunt was the youth minister at the cathedral, and she was like, “Oh we’d love to have you volunteer and help out with the youth group.” But because of my schedule working, restaurants are nights, weekends, holidays, all that sort of stuff, and anyone who knows anything about restaurants, they’re not the holiest of places.
So it was really funny. My boss would give some guys Sunday afternoons off to watch football, but I said, “Hey in the Sunday evenings can I help out with the youth group at my church?” And he said, “absolutely not you have to work.” I was like, so if these guys can watch Sunday football, but I can’t go to help out with youth group?
But that actually, was a moment where I realized that desire on my heart to serve the church in some way. And at that moment, I was told, “Sorry, but based on your job you can’t do this.” So that’s what drove me to adoration one day, and I said, “all right I have this desire, I want to serve the church.” And I said, “God, how can I serve the church?” In a very inviting question, the Lord just said, “what about becoming a priest?” My initial reaction was, “absolutely not!” Because again, I thought I had my dream job. I’ve been dating this girl for about a year, like you know, things were going great.
Hardest thing is breaking up with someone when there’s absolutely nothing wrong. “Sorry. You know, God’s calling me to be a priest”. Which at the time she thought I was using that as an excuse, to date someone else. The whole, you know, “Use the seminary to break up with someone trick” I guess. Well, tricked on me because now I’m a priest, so I guess I’m not dating anyone else.
From that moment of that call, I realized that I hadn’t been, as you’ve mentioned I had talked about confession, and I realized I hadn’t been in confession, since I was in eighth grade when I was confirmed. And even then that was not a good confession.
I showed up one day because my parents dropped me off for this confirmation day retreat, and all of a sudden they said, “All right, and now we’re going to confession.” And they threw me in a room and I sat there and I went, “I’ve lied.” I didn’t know what to say, it was sprung on me. So I made an appointment, for a few minutes I just rambled off, all of these things that I’d done.
And again, restaurants are not the holiest of places to work. I had some stuff, I’m not going to get into it, I’m not going to give you my confession, but there was a lot of stuff on my heart. And at this point I’m just like bawling my eyes out. And I went into confession with one thought, it was “I’m not going to tell this priest that I think God’s calling me to be a priest, because they would throw me out and tell me I could never be a priest based on all these terrible things I just confessed.”
But the priest stopped me and he said, “All right, like, why now? Why after all these years, have you decided to come back to confession?” Well, the only thing I could tell him was “I think God’s calling me to be a priest.” And he jumped out of his chair, he gave me a big hug and said, “That’s incredible news! I’m so excited!”
Meanwhile, I’m bawling my eyes out this entire time.
Just an encounter with God’s mercy. I was expecting judgment and condemnation, but instead I had an encounter with mercy, and it was a game changer for me. And as a priest, my prayer to ordination was “Lord make me a good confessor.” I want others to experience what I experienced then, and to have that encounter with mercy.
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