|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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
plans are much bigger and better than our own.
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.