This morning's read of my hometown paper delighted me with the story of a local firefighter who, God willing, will be ordained to the transitional diaconate this year and to the priesthood in the following year for the Diocese of Orange.
To the casual observer, Klunk may not have appeared the priestly type. A tall, dashing outdoorsman who loved surfing, hiking, running, biking. Degree in environmental science, hazardous materials expert with the Santa Fe Springs fire department, dubbed "Klunk the Hunk" by TV reporters covering industrial accidents in the city. He was 33, a longtime resident of Huntington Beach, getting into his girlfriend's nondenominational Christian church, loved kids and wanted a family.
A priest? The bargaining began. C'mon, God. Don't make me be a priest. Tell you what! I'll do youth ministry. I'll do youth ministry in jail! I'll work with sick folks in the hospital.
It went on like this for years. Klunk liked his job. He liked his life. He prayed. And prayed. And prayed. One day he crossed paths with a nun who said something he would never forget: "Don't let good be the enemy of best."
What the nun said to him is fabulous. Guys like this need our support, which we can easily do with a quick Sign of the Cross and a prayer that he find fulfillment in the priesthood. I have much admiration for older men who get a taste of the "real world" and despite the din and confusion can hear God calling them. They bring, at times, a more mature perspective to the priesthood which only serves to enhance their ministry.
My parish is graced with both - a "lifer" and a "late bloomer." I find they work quite effectively together, despite their age difference (10 years) and their positions (the younger is the boss of the older, while the older is the co-chair of the local diocesan deanery).