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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Hey… Follow me.
Fr. Brian Gregory Coe

Fr. Brian Gregory CoeLC.
Fr. Brian Gregory Coe LC.

Growing up
I grew up in Annapolis, Maryland.  I went to St. Mary’s, one of the most highly respected elementary schools in the state.  I never did my homework. 

In high school, I still avoided homework at all costs. 

Everyone tried to motivate me: “You can get away with this now, but when you’re in (insert my current grade plus four years) you won’t be able to keep up.”  In middle school I got by.  So, they were wrong in elementary school.  In high school I survived (with a few stints at summer school, but who’s counting?), so they were wrong in middle school, too. 

After St. Mary’s, I changed over to public high school.  The switch terrified me.  The crowds were bigger.  The building was bigger.  The people were bigger.  I made friends of all shapes, sizes and colors of the rainbow.  I figured the best way to fit in would be to speak about Christians as “them” instead of “us.”   To this day, I’m not sure where I got that idea from, but it didn’t work.  

Beginning of an adventure

When I was in tenth grade, Mom and Dad started taking Catholicism more seriously.  I will leave the story of God’s action in their lives for another narrator.  It’s enough to say that they started putting thought into how to help us kids get more into the Faith.  They bought a copy of the Catechism and placed it prominently on the shelf.  We started praying the Rosary as a family, going to Eucharistic adoration, going to Mass more often.  Thanks, Mom and Dad.

One day I was reminded that, as a teenager, my calendar was subject to parental revision.  The committee (Mom and Dad) decided that I would be going to a retreat called Youth 2000 at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary.  I was notified the night before.
Powerful preaching from the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.  Upbeat spiritual music that moved the soul.  Over 2000 high-schoolers on their knees, adoring the Eucharist together.  Wow!

On that weekend, I got into adoring the Eucharist (to this day it’s one of my favorite hobbies).  I realized that being with Jesus in the Eucharist is the best place anyone can be on earth and that no one is closer to the Eucharist than priests. 

Youth 2000 was a watershed event.  Jesus walked into my life, smiled and said: “Hey… Follow me.”  From then on, I knew I was going to become a priest. 

Now I was praying the Rosary, going to adoration, going to Mass.  I wasn’t just going with the flow in the family.

I devoured our Catechism.  It saw so much action in my hands that it ended up in several pieces spread throughout the house.  I guess we got our money’s worth. 

My friends in high school remained my friends, but now I felt as if I was on
Fr. Brian Gregory Coe LC.
the outside looking in.  My heart went out to the ones that were enslaved by addictions.  It wasn’t just “their problem” anymore.  But, besides praying for them, I didn’t really know what to do about it. 

Then, one day after school, a friend asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Without really thinking the social ramifications through, I said, “I want to be a priest.”  In two days, everyone knew. 

Kids were coming up to me in the hallway asking: “Is it true you want to be a priest?”  I found myself trying to explain the reasons for my choice to pretty much everyone, but it was like trying to speak Braille.  It’s not that they didn’t believe it (they did); they couldn’t fathom it.

Without realizing it, “Christian” was no longer either “us” or “them.”  It was “me.”  I was becoming Christ’s representative to all my friends. 

Biking to adoration after school and praying the Rosary on the way just made sense to me.  My friends’ inability to “get” my motives reinforced in me the idea that that they needed some sort of spiritual leadership.  Little by little I realized that, if I could trade in my life on earth for the eternal happiness of one of my friends, it was worth the investment.

I began to realize that it was more than just a matter of helping this person or that person “get” it.  There was something in the big picture that needed to be healed.  It was unfair that my friends had been exposed to drugs or porn or had been drawn into brawls so early in their lives.  What to do?  I didn’t know, but I was determined to figure it out.  

Life in the Legion

At about this time, it occurred to several of my Catholic friends (each on his or her own without talking to the others) that I should be introduced to the Legionaries of Christ.  They each did.  I guess I had “LC” written on my forehead.  Either that or the Holy Spirit wanted to make sure I got the hint.  One way or the other, it worked.

At the Legion’s seminary in Cheshire, Connecticut, adoration of the Eucharist and devotion to Mary are both central parts of life.  Within a few weeks, I was introduced to several gems of the Church’s Magisterium I never knew existed.  I loved all of this.  What surprised me was that the Legionaries spoke of looking for creative ways to bring the Gospel into the public square.  This last one was uncanny because it was exactly what I was chewing on in my down time in high school.  The Legion of Christ seemed as though it was custom tailored to fit me (or was I custom tailored to fit it?).  I jumped right in and felt at home. 

If you’re wondering whether I’m surviving without doing my homework, I’ve been cured of that bug.  All the materials we study are geared to helping us be as prepared as possible for the task of bringing the Gospel to the cutting edge of culture.  So, in the Legion, motivation to study has never been an issue.  I study hard and love every minute of it. 

When your friend smiles and says “Hey… Follow me,” it means he’s got something nice up his sleeve. Over the past 16 years, I have found that this applies to Jesus more than anyone else.

Fr. Brian Coe was born on September 21, 1980 in Washington D.C.  After graduating from Broadneck High School in Annapolis, M.D., he joined the novitiate.   After six years studying in the Legion’s seminaries in Cheshire, CT and Thornwood, NY, he went to California where he interned with Fr. Shawn Aaron as a fundraiser.  In 2007, Fr. Brian moved to Rome where he received a Master’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.  In 2009 he returned to the Legion’s seminary in Thornwood where he began working on his Bachelor’s in theology and taught philosophy to Bachelor’s students.  He is currently in Rome working on a Master’s in dogmatic theology



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