|Fr. Brian Gregory Coe LC.|
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
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
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!
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.
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
My friends in high school remained my
friends, but now I felt as if I was on
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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