|Fr. James Mark Shekelton LC.|
From a young age,
God has had His hand over me and has
guided me continually throughout the years. Reflecting on my
life I realize that there have been no drastic conversions
or strange situations but rather that my life has
been a continuous response to a call that I
had always felt from a young age.
I was born in the city of Sheffield
in England in the year 1982. I am the youngest
of my family and have two brothers and a
sister. As the story goes, when I was three months
old I suffered an illness which nobody could explain
or diagnose. I was put into intensive care and
the doctors did not have much hope that I would
recover. My parents, along with my brothers and sister
could do nothing except pray. It was precisely during
one of the many rosaries that they offered that the
hospital called to say that I had suddenly begun
to regain normal signs and that it appeared that
I was recovering. Without a doubt it was the
first miracle and God´s intervention in my life that allowed
me to recover completely and grow normally and healthy.
God wanted me alive!
I was always very active and
liked to be busy. Our house was always a
very busy place with constant comings and goings of
friends and family.
small boy I had a great attraction to the
Mass and was always very attentive. This attraction to the
Mass converted into a constant theme during many years.
There was even a moment when I turned part
of the bedroom into a church and frequently played at
celebrating the Mass using chocolate biscuits and apple juice.
The number of people attending was always imaginary but
very high, as this allowed for a greater consumption
of chocolate biscuits! “The Imitation of Christ”, by Thomas
Kempis was always by my bedside and often I would
read phrases from it before going to bed, much
to the surprise of my parents.
As I grew, my interest toward the Mass and
the church in general continued to grow. Without a doubt
this was due to my family and the great
faith of my parents. God was always in first
place in our house and it was very normal to
pray the rosary together.
The years of secondary
school were not exempt of the normal activities and adventures
of a teenager. I played a lot of golf,
tennis, rugby and football, I liked getting along with
girls, and during the weekends I often went biking with
a group of friends.
I was always keen
to make money through selling things, washing cars and
cutting grass. There was always something to be done
and I was always busy. Even so, looking back I
realize how, during these years, God was watching over
me and the many experiences I had were to
lead me eventually to say ‘Yes’ to him.
During my younger years the attraction
to the priesthood was a normal attraction of any child,
but as I grew I started to see that
God was taking things more seriously. This scared me
but I realized that God was asking me to have
great faith in Him.
In England, a lot
of importance is given to the many Martyrs who
have shed their blood for the cause of the
Gospel. Amongst them, St Edmund Campion and St Thomas Moore
have always inspired me by their fidelity to the
faith and the witness they gave of? Christ. Many
times I would sit reflecting on what I was to
do in life. There were many questions that puzzled
me and caused doubts. I wanted to do something great
and I wanted to help others but I could
never get the idea of the priesthood out of my
mind. This idea continued to grow with me and
I could not get it out of my head.
Our Parish priest, Mons. William Kilgannon,
an Irishman, had a great influence on me. He is
an unconquerable character who stops at nothing to attend
to the parish and its needs. Many times he
was up all night attending the sick and comforting the
dying. This always struck me positively and helped me
to understand that a priest does not and cannot
live for himself but for others.
My family has always had friendship with lots of
priests and this also had a positive influence in my
own vocation. I saw the priest as a close
fatherly figure and was always identified with what I
saw. For this reason, and due to the faith of
my family, there was always a great love for
the church in my house. My father had been an
Anglican and converted to the Catholic faith before meeting
my mother. Maybe this was another reason why the
life of faith was taken very seriously.
I had known the Legion through
one of my brothers who had left home in 1992
to join the Legion’s seminary in Ireland. The Congregation
had no groups or apostolates in England but on
occasions when I visited my brother, I experienced great peace
and perceived a great love for the Church.
In the year 1999, I attended
a summer camp in Alaska. During those weeks,
amidst Gods work of Creation and lots of activity
such as rafting, hunting, camping and skiing, that I decided
the time had arrived to give God an opportunity
to work in me. In the summer of this same
year I joined the Candidacy Program in the Legionaries
Novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut, USA. When I look back
I ask myself “how it was possible at that
moment to leave everything? Surely somebody tricked me into
staying.” I can say that it was the response to
Gods call and, without a doubt, because he grants
the special grace we need in the moment we
need it. The important thing is to correspond to it.
This will always bring peace and happiness.
One of the factors that have helped
me to grow in my love for the priesthood has
been the years working with young people and families
in Mexico. I have learned, and continue to learn that
a priest is for all people. To be an
instrument of God’s grace is one of the greatest
joys that I have experienced.
Looking back over the years I have also learned
that there is no easy path but every path must
be walked in the company of Our Lord. God
grants His grace for those moments when we have to
make decisions, and it is this grace that enables
us to continue, even in the midst of hardships
I entrust the
years that follow into God’s hands, and ask for
the prayers of all those who read this short
story, so that God will preserve me in his service
and through me, reach all those souls in need
of his Salvation.
Fr. James Shekelton
was born in the City of Sheffield, South Yorkshire,
England in 1982. He studied his primary education at Mylnhurst
Convent School in Sheffield and passed through secondary and
preparatory education at All Saints Catholic School of the
same city. At the age of 17 he entered the
Novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Cheshire, Connecticut
USA. In 2002 he obtained a Bachelors Degree in
Philosophy at the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolurum in Rome.
From 2004 to 2011 he worked with youth in both
the City of Mexico and the City of Monterrey.
In 2009 he began his Bachelors Degree in Theology
at the Pontifical Atheneum Regina Apostolorum which he obtained in
June 2012. He received diaconate ordination on 30th June
2012, Feast of the First Roman Martyrs.