“Pinecrest created a culture that normalized the priesthood and made it attractive.” Said Deacon Mike Metz who will be ordained a priest for Atlanta and the US Archdiocese for Military Services in 2018. He continued, “Living as a good Christian and a good Catholic was the ideal, we didn’t always live it but we knew that we were supposed to. Pinecrest gave us a faith to strive for and provided the sacraments to help us reach it.”
Deacon Mike first thought about the vocation at a discernment retreat at the Legion’s novitiate during high school, but he only entered the seminary after 4 years at Christian Brothers University at Memphis where he was part of ROTC, graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant. Partway through the ROTC program they have to declare what path they are going in the army after a Land Nav exercise. This exercise in the silence of the woods helped him make a final decision for the Chaplain Corps.
Marian Metz, Deacon Mike’s mom, talked about his first night home after this exercise: she was expecting him to tell them he was doing infantry or special ops. She and the whole family were shocked when he said Chaplain Corps; but then in hindsight, she realized it all fell into place.
The Metz family has been at Pinecrest for 23 years, with the youngest of their 11 kids still in elementary school. When they came to Atlanta, Fr Brett A. Brannen, the vocations director for diocese of Savanna and author of To Save a Thousand Souls, suggested Pinecrest to them. After telling it was run by the Legion, Fr Brett warned them, prophetically, “They’re going to want one of your boys.”
The Metz parents were impressed that Pinecrest did exactly as they promised with integral formation. Marion saw them focus on all four aspects of intellectual, spiritual, human and apostolic. In addition to the school time, the Conquest club kept them close to the sacraments and around the right type of men.
Marian said, “Being at Pinecrest it was so much easier to present a vocation to the religious life – or now with my girls consecrated life – as an option, as a viable option on equal footing with other options… We always taught them to give God the first shot with their lives.” Now she sees him blossoming where he is.
Deacon Mike’s brother is currently a brother in the Legion. Marion was a lot less surprised when Br Gregory joined the Legion. He decided to join the Legion at an Ignition retreat in Cheshire after Christmas and joined straight out of high school.
The Metz family aren’t the only recent vocations from Pinecrest. One other is in the diocesan seminary like Deacon Mike and four other others are in the Legion like Br Gregory Metz, LC. These include Arturo Merriman, Br John Frain LC, Br Brian Flanagan nLC, and Br Andrew Mathias nLC.
Since 2007, Pinecrest has also had two young women enter religious communities, and an astounding 63 volunteers for a year with Regnum Christi Mission Corps.
Kathleen Nichols, the consecrated woman who is in director of formation at Pinecrest, explained how Regnum Christi worked at the school. Pinecrest is blessed to have three Legionary priests as chaplains, one Legionary brother and four consecrated women on campus.
One new initiative on Pinecrest recently was a mission club. Students were going on a misson to Nicaragua every year but wanted more. Last year they did a follow up mission to Mexcio.
As we celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week November 5-11, it is good to be aware of the vocational options we can present to young people today. Throughout this week, the Regnum Christi site will be sharing articles on vocations.