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God´s Plans are Bigger and Better
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | TESTIMONIES
Vocational testimony of Fr. Stephen Dyas LC

Vocational testimony of the Fr. Stephen Dyas LC
Fr. Stephen Dyas LC

                                      
My most frequent dream of the future was of me carrying wounded civilians on my shoulders to safety in a far off country. If it not that, it was the dream of being a professional basketball player, football player, and baseball player—all at the same time, naturally. I always wanted to do something big and great with my life. What I did not know was that God wanted to do even bigger and better things with me.

I was born on January 7, 1976, in Barto, PA. I am the third of seven children: six boys and one girl. My mom was always a fervent Catholic, coming from a good Irish family in Chicago. My dad was born and raised a Lutheran but became Catholic before getting married. We were a normal Catholic family: we attended Mass on Sundays, prayed the rosary every once in a while, asked St. Anthony to help us when we lost something…

Garbage Bag Vestments Amidst Other Dreams
My dad was a Marine in the Vietnam War. I always wanted to become a soldier and in some way save people’s lives. When I was young, I saw a movie about some teenagers who left home to train to become soldiers and I decided: that was what I wanted to do.

The seeds of the priesthood were there, but I had many other interests. We had contact with some good parish priests after each Sunday Mass and I enjoyed being with them. Ever since I was five or six, I thought of being a priest, and I started to play Mass every once in a while, using garbage bags as vestments. But I also became very interested in sports, especially basketball. The first basketball hoop my dad put up was on our
Vocational testimony of the Fr. Stephen Dyas LC
gravel drive way. I remember my first baseball mitt. Sports became my passion.

In the summer of 1985 we moved to Illinois, to a small village of 250 people an hour and a half south of Chicago. In 5th grade I got on the basketball team and started to run track. Being a good athlete led me to many different friends: boys and girls. The more I became involved in sports and friends, the more the idea of being a priest faded away. And the more I left God out of my life, the sadder and emptier I became, though I did not realize it. I started to become bitter toward life and wanted something much bigger and more fulfilling. In school I just got by, only in order to play on the basketball team.

En Route to Niagara Falls: “Be a Priest.”
In the summer of 1988 two Legionary seminarians went to the Joliet area, where most of my relatives lived. They were going to meet with a number of my cousins. My mom asked if I wanted to meet them, and a few of my brothers went but I stayed home. The following Easter, however, I decided to go on a trip with these two Legionary seminarians. For the most part, I went to get away from home for a bit and just take a break. I was thirteen at the time.

On the van ride from Detroit to Niagara Falls I received a strong and clear inspiration: be a priest. That was a crazy idea so I never really spoke about it with anyone. On the trip we also visited the School in New Hampshire for kids who want to become priests: the Immaculate Conception apostolic school. The kids were good and happy but I never thought anything special about the school. On the other hand, during my stay with them and on the whole trip, I was very much at peace. God was pulling me toward him more closely, though I did not realize it.

For some reason, I never got the chance to say goodbye to the two seminarians in the Detroit airport before leaving. I felt bad about that. When they called a few weeks later to speak with my mom about something, I asked to speak to them just to thank them for the trip. This was another sign of how God was working in my life.

After the trip I started to ask more serious questions: what happens if God is calling a person and the person does not respond? Apparently I changed quite a bit. Before I knew it, summer was coming around and the Legionaries invited me to visit the school in New Hampshire for the month of August (though the summer program actually took place in Cheshire, CT). I decided to go, though I had no desire whatsoever to actually go to the school. It was another opportunity to enjoy a change.

Summer Program Struggles
After one day I was already homesick. The priests and seminarians helped me to stick it out for a while. Though it was difficult in the beginning, I was very grateful that they helped me. I enjoyed the summer program very much, but there was no way on earth I would stay at this school. I could never leave basketball and all of my friends. Plus, all my friends would have thought I was the nerdiest person on earth if they found out I went off to a school for kids who want to become priests.

During the last week of the summer program the Holy Spirit started working more and more. There was still no way on earth I was going to stay. On the other hand, I saw that if I never tried it out I would never know what God wanted of me. Eventually I decided to just give it a try and go home at Thanksgiving. In the last days of the summer program I could not sleep at night. I kept picturing myself in the uniform of an apostolic: dark blue pants, shiny shoes... In the end, my obstacle was always the same thing: I could never leave my family, friends, and sports. Things changed, however, when I found out that they played a lot of ice hockey at the school. Since I had never played ice hockey, this was a challenge I didn’t want to miss out on.

“Yes.”
The last day of the summer program came: August 24th. I had to make a decision. Either I would fly home the next day, or I would go in bus up to the school in New Hampshire to stay for the school year. In that hour of decision, I said yes, by the pure grace of God and by the quiet and loving power of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, I felt peaceful like never before. After the four hour bus ride, when I arrived to the school in New Hampshire, I walked into the dining room and God gave me the greatest peace and joy I had ever experienced. Right away I called my family to let them know not to pick me up at the airport. I knew this was my place and that  and they offered me this was going to last far longer than Thanksgiving. I knew that God was calling me to serve him forever. I felt in that moment that all my dreams in life had been fulfilled. There I was, a thirteen year old leaving home to form myself to be a “soldier of Christ” and do something great with my life.

God’s plans are much bigger and better than our own.

Father Stephen Dyas, LC was born on the 7th of January 1976 in Pennsylvania. In 1985 his family moved to Reddick Illinois, in the diocese of Joliet. In 1989 he entered the Immaculate Conception apostolic school in New Hampshire, run by the Legionaries of Christ. He did his novitiate in Cheshire, CT, from 1993 to 1995. After another year of humanistic studies in Cheshire, CT, in 1996 he went to Rome to study philosophy. After two years he was sent on apostolic internship, first for a few months doing youth work on the West Coast of the USA, and then for two years as a formator at the Immaculate Conception apostolic school in New Hampshire. From there he went on to found another apostolic school in Cornwall, ON, Canada. In 2002 he went back to Rome to complete a master’s degree in philosophy and studied theology. He also had another pastoral internship at the Immaculate Conception apostolic school in Colfax, California. Finally, after being ordained a deacon, he was sent to work in yet another apostolic school near Paris, France.

 

This testimony is part of the book “Ven y sígueme” (Come and Follow me). In January 2008 you can buy it at www.misionmultimedia.org. It contains 48 testimonies in Spanish, 11 in English and 1 in German.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-12-21


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