I Wanted More in Life

My parents raised me well, but despite that, I became a very rebellious teenager. I hung with the party-hard crowd throughout high school and by my senior year I was well known as a star football player and crazy party animal. When I graduated, my life revolved around friends, beer, girls, and popularity. This carried over into college.

After entering Texas A&M University, I found a group of buddies who also loved girls and beer. I was arrogant and confident on the outside, but I did not feel that way on the inside. My grades were poor, I was unhappy, and life wasnít very good. I wanted more in life, but I didnít know where to get it. Then I started talking to some other young men in my dorm whom I found interesting because they always seemed to have a good time without partying. They intrigued me with their lifestyle and joy.

These guys became my closest friends in college, and they still are to this day. They are a mixture of Catholics and Southern Baptists who didnít like me too much at first because I was too drunk and lazy for them. But this didnít keep them from encouraging me to go back to church, which I did once in a while.

At church one Sunday, I heard about a parish mission that was coming up the next week. I wanted to go, but I didnít want to seem too Christian, so I went the last night only. That night, the priest told a story of how he failed to see Christ in an annoying homeless woman on a bus in New York City. After the story, I thought that if I had been the priest in that situation, I would have beaten the woman up. This thought bothered me.

Because the Holy Spirit was kicking me in the pants, and due to the encouragement of my friends, I decided to attend a retreat called Aggie Awakening. I told myself and others that I was going only because a lot of good-looking Catholic women would be there. Of course, I thought about backing out several times, but two of my friends were also going and wouldnít let me. In my heart I knew I needed something, and I was hoping I could get whatever it was from the retreat.

When I got there, I was taken aback by the fervor and zeal of all the Jesus freaks and Bible thumpers. I had never met Catholics like these before. On Friday night of the retreat there was a talk about confession and the need to repent our sins. I was convinced that I was a sinner, but I decided confession was useless and I wasnít going to go.

After the talk, there was an examination of conscience that took us through the Ten Commandments. It was geared toward college students, and I think I could have checked almost every one of the hundreds of sins covered. This was an eye-opener for me, and for some inexplicable reason I found myself walking to confession. I didnít want to go, and I still donít know why I did. I was scared, angry, and confused.

I stood in line to see a priest I had neither seen before or since. While waiting for my turn, I became even more frightened because I had never before gone to confession with a priest face-to-face. When I finally sat in front of this man of God, whom I truly consider to be my guardian angel from heaven, I immediately started sobbing.

For the first time in my life I talked about all the sins I didnít even want to admit to myself. Confessing them was both painful and amazingly beautiful. After the priest calmed me and told me about Godís love for me, my heart opened wide and I had my initial conversion to Christ. This was the moment I was saved and allowed Christ to enter my life. After confession, I felt like a new person, and I knelt in the chapel where I truly prayed to God for the first time. I told Him I was now His, and He welcomed me home with open arms.

From that moment on, I have tried to live my life for Jesus. I became involved in my parish community, started to pray daily, and began attending Mass. My spiritual journey began from where I had left off as a child. Of course, the road has had its bumps and problems, but I still find Christís love and healing when I go to confession.

I now work as the director of campus ministry in a large campus ministry at Texas Tech University where we have the same Aggie Awakening retreat program that changed my life. I am blessed because I am able to be a part of the conversion process of hundreds of young people every year through the sacrament of reconciliation.

Marcel R. LeJeune Lubbock, Texas