I had a good relationship with the other students in the house. We were like brothers and spent a lot of time together. At times, I felt left out. We studied philosophy and the other two pupils were in the same class. Because of my good results from secondary school. I was doing a higher course in philosophy while the other students did the normal one. At times this was annoying, as they had something in common and it was as if more was expected of me. Despite this, I had no problems with the other students. We could confide in each other, support each other, and have fun with each other. They did like when I was a rebel, which made me do things that ended up with me being called to the spiritual director's office.
One of the controversies I caused was when I was asked to arrange a Rosary prayer group for the local people. I never did like the Rosary. It was a prayer where one has to multitask. You have to meditate and say prayers at the same time. I figured that the spiritual director gave me this job to see if I could be obedient. I agreed to it. I decorated a statue of Mary with flowers. At prayers, I told the people that it was wrong to worship statues and to pray to them. They were made of stone and were not alive. We should pray to God and worship him. Mary did not want us to worship her. She wanted us to worship God. Once again I was called into the office. I overstepped what I was asked to do. I was not to attack the tradition of having statues of Mary in the Church and it was wrong of me to assume that people worshipped her. There was a difference between respect and worship. I could understand what my spiritual director meant. I admitted that this had taught me a valuable lesson that I could use at future prayer meetings. The thing was that I was not allowed to do any future prayer meetings.
While I had a good relationship with the other students, this was not the case with the priests that lived there. One reason was that despite I was considered a rebel, I was very shy. In a way, I did not consider myself their equal and felt inferior when I was with them. I did not know what to say. They also heard of what trouble I got myself in, so I think that they did not have any confidence in me or think I would ever be a priest. I could sense this, which affected my confidence and self-esteem. Besides being shy around them, I felt sorry for them. The priests did not seem happy. I noticed a few were even alcoholics. There was one priest that invited the other students and me to a pub several times a week. I was afraid that this could happen to me in the future. I could end up being overweight, sad and an alcoholic. This was a scary thought.
My grandmother died. She was so important in my life. I knew that she loved me and wanted the best. She could also be blunt and honest and tell me what she thought. This was the first time in my life that someone so close to me died. I took the train home. My mother was grieving and I could understand that. I wanted to hug her and tell her that Grandmother was now in heaven. The thing was that my parents never hugged us. I did not know what to do or say. It was hard seeing people so sad. My mother knew I was trying to be supportive and she said the best I could do was to say some prayers at the chapel. This was a place where people would pray around the coffin before the actual burial service.
It was sort of expected of me because everyone considered me a future priest. I agreed to do it because it meant so much to my mother and at the same time it was my way of giving my grandmother a tribute. I started reciting the prayers as I looked at the open coffin. I could not understand that one of the most important people in my life was dead. I wanted my grandmother to wake up and be like she always was. I looked at her face and noticed that her lips were sewn together. I could see the threads. This made me realize that I would never speak with my grandmother again. I broke down and wept. I could not control myself. My mother held my hand as she continued the prayers.
I was ashamed that I became so emotional. I felt as if people expected me to lead them in prayers because I was studying to be a priest. I felt as if I let them down. I could hear my grandmother's voice in my head telling me that I was not meant to be a priest. It was as if I should have been more professional and not let my emotions control me. I knew that I failed. Mom must have known what I was thinking, as she told me that I was human. She knew how much my grandmother meant to me and it was only normal that I would show my grief. She also told me that my emotions were one of my strong points. I was a man that was not afraid to cry. I was told that Grandmother's spirit was at the chapel, and mom was sure that she was proud of me. Despite my mother's words, I was so disappointed with myself.
On the way back to Dublin, a man sat next to me on the train. We talked about our lives. I told him that I was studying to be a priest. Then he started to tell me rude jokes. I must admit that I found some of them funny and did not protest when he continued telling them. I did not even protest when he told me that he thought I was handsome. He told me that I had nice eyes. This was something that I hated, as people always told me this when I was younger. He started to fondle me on the train. I was so embarrassed and I knew it was wrong. My reaction was to do as I always have done. I switched off and looked out the window as he continued doing this. I wanted him to stop but said nothing.
When I was back at the student house, I said nothing and was very quiet. Everyone thought I was still sad about my grandmother's death. This was not true. I felt guilty that I let a man fondle me. He did not break any law. We were both legally adults. It was not his fault as I did not protest. He must have thought it was just some adult touching and it was something that I liked. This was not the case. It reminded me of all the times that my spiritual director told me that I was gay. This was something that I always denied. I was mad at myself for not being man enough to tell the man to stop. Why did I let him continue? Did I have gay tendencies?
It was also at this time that a woman my age came to our masses. She was an exchange student from Spain. We started to talk after the masses. I loved her accent and thought that she was very pretty. Her name was Anais and I could not stop thinking about her. After some time, she admitted to me that she had a crush on me. My world nearly collapsed. This was not part of the plan that I had since I was a child. I was supposed to be a priest and save the world. I was going to be the first Irish Pope. I was not supposed to fall in love with a woman from Spain. I should have ignored her and told her that my life was dedicated to God. I did not do this. I could not ignore her. We continued to speak with each other after the masses. We had a crush on each other but we never did anything wrong. She respected that I was studying to be a priest. Nothing romantic ever happened.
The gay man continued to contact me. He visited me once and started to fondle me again. This time I told him to stop and I did not like it. Studying to be a priest and becoming a priest were very important for me. I considered this like temptation from the Devil. Not only was being gay a sin but not taking my future vow of celibacy serious was also wrong. I told him that I did not want to see him again. The problem was that the other students noticed his visit and concluded that there was something rude going on. They were right in a way but I denied it. I was afraid that my spiritual director would find out about it. He already noticed how much I spoke with Anais
It seemed that my whole life was falling apart. I let that Gay man come too close to me and I had a crush on a foreign exchange student. In normal life, this would not have mattered. However, for someone studying to be a priest, it was a temptation. It was something that the Church did not want from its priests. I did get the gay man out of my life and I started to keep my distance from Anais. I may have turned my back on these temptations, but the damage was done. I felt as if my grandmother was right. I was not suited for the priesthood. I was not holy or disciplined enough.
It was time for the Summer holidays and the spiritual director called me into his office. He sighed and told me that it had been quite an eventful year. He talked about the psychological test that said I was gay. I sat in silence. This was not because I was tired of discussing it, but because I knew that I let a gay man come close to me. My spiritual director then told me that he did not want me to come back after the Summer. He thought that I needed to experience the real world and use this time to pray and listen to if God was calling me to the priesthood. I let my emotions go and started to cry. I begged him to give me a chance. I would be obedient and I would not cause any controversies. This did not help. He told me that I was too much of a rebel. I did not have good relationships with the other priests. At times, he thought I was confused. When I asked him how long I should be in the real world and when should I come back, he bluntly said that the White Fathers did not want me.
I was no longer a priest student. My mother was very disappointed and she tried to get me to say why I was kicked out of the White Fathers. She even said she already knew because she talked with them. This was not true. It was her ploy to get me to tell her everything. I did not tell her anything. This meant that she told me how ashamed she was. One thing was that my mother was so ashamed and unwilling to support me, I was also ashamed that my lifelong dream was now in ruins. The question was what would I do with my life and did I still want to be a priest?
I tried to be as brave as I could. This meant I had to leave home. I felt as if my mother was so ashamed of me and felt that I was a failure, that it was impossible to stay there. I moved to London where I got a job as a security guard in a shop. This was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but I figured that it would give me a chance to think. Standing in a shop and watching people buy things gave me a lot of time to think.
The urge for me to be a priest was still there, but I lost all confidence in that this would ever happen. Looking back at my time with the White Fathers, I could have done things much differently. I could have not been so controversial and not provoked people. I could have been submissive and obedient and prayed a lot more. I could have become better friends with the older priests there. The fact was that I did not. I think that my time at the White Fathers was a time when I was finding out who I was. Until then, I had figures of authority such as my parents and boarding school telling me what to do and how to behave. The sudden freedom made me do things that shocked the priests and my spiritual director. He was right. I needed to experience what the world was and find out who I was.
Another thing that bothered me was my Faith. I believed in God and he was very important in my life. The problem I had was with prayer. I found it very hard to recite prayers and thought that mass was very boring. Mass and prayers that I recited were not my words. I rather have had small conversations with God that were in my own words and feelings. I did not have the patience to meditate as my mind wandered off in a hundred directions. All this made me think that I was not holy enough. I was not good enough to be a priest, never mind a saint.
I was in contact with a religious order called the Camillians. They wanted me to join their order. This made me question myself again if I wanted to be a priest and what I would do.ns126.96.36.199da2