Like most of those who choose to seriously discern a call to the priesthood, I remember well the interior tug-of-war I went through before taking that giant leap and entering the official formation process. One of the biggest obstacles for me was the choice to leave the most enjoyable job I had ever had up to that point in my life, one that I believed would take me on a professional path that would prove to be both fruitful and satisfying in the long run.
But as much as I have always loved sports, and wished with all my heart growing up that I would eventually make it to the “big time,” that prospect was not at all part of the picture in my situation.
For Grant Desme, however, that’s precisely what he is walking away from in order to enter priestly formation with the Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Southern California. Desme, a second-round draft choice of Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics in 2007, was considered one of the organization’s top young prospects, meaning that he had an excellent chance of making it to the big leagues, which, of course, is the highest level a baseball player can attain.
Instead, he has opted to pursue what is referred to as the Church’s “highest objective calling,” the Catholic priesthood. His decision manifests a triumph of God’s grace over the longings of the human heart. I’m sure Grant would say he’s only doing what he believes God is calling him to do. And that’s what’s most important with a choice like this. But it still sends a powerful message to both the world and to other young men who are grappling with giving up their own dreams and aspirations.
As for the “world,” there are countless people who are already saying, “What a waste!” But that just shows a lack of understanding of God’s ways, and of what the priesthood is all about.
When it comes to young men who will learn of Grant’s decision, the message will be just the opposite. They’ll immediately think, “If he can walk away from potential Major League stardom – not to mention potential piles of money – then what can possibly keep me from saying “Yes” to God and getting started on my own journey toward the priesthood?”
At the end of the day, nothing matters more than doing the will of God. And while, as Paul Harvey used to say, “The rest of the story” remains to unfold, Grant Desme’s decision to leave baseball behind to pursue a vocation to the priesthood should inspire many young men to follow in his footsteps. It’s a story not unlike that of Mother Dolores Hart, the famous actress who in the 1960s left the bright lights of Hollywood behind to become a nun.
For some people, God matters more than fame and fortune. Let us keep Grant Desme in our prayers.