Vocation. The word is defined as a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action, especially a call into religious life. It’s also defined as work, or an occupation one is involved with.
Grant Desme, 23 year-old top prospect for the Oakland Athletics, has a gift. He won the Most Valuable Player of the Arizona Fall League, batting .315 with 11 homers and 27 RBIs in 27 games.
He put up staggering numbers in the minor league regular season, batting .288 with 31 home runs, 89 RBIs, and 40 stolen bases in 2009. Desme was the only player in the minors to record at least 30 homers and 30 steals.
Talk about a young man with a ton of ability on the baseball diamond.
But Desme did not feel his true calling was baseball. Last Thursday the minor league’s best player retired from baseball. Yes, you heard right, he retired from baseball at 23 years old. Desme gave it all up for a higher power.
Seeking peace and aspiration for higher things in life, Desme decided to leave the game to become a Catholic priest. According to several news reports, his announcement startled A’s General Manager Billy Beane, but he was supportive and understanding of Desme’s choice.
But why exactly did Desme decide to become a priest? After all, it’s not a choice a person makes overnight; it has to be well-thought out.
The first two years of his minor league career, Desme was setback by shoulder and wrist injuries. He said that his days off the field gave him time to realize what’s important in his life and he got himself into Bible study during that time. News reports also confirm that he discussed the faith with his teammates.
Not one to distract the team during the season, Desme kept his decision to leave the game for the priesthood to himself.
I have to say, this is one of the nicer stories I’ve heard in the sporting world over the last week. Desme has so much God-given talent and I am proud that he recognizes that–that his talent comes from God and he is willing to thank Him for it. There are certain athletes that have no desire to truly appreciate what the good Lord has given them, much less devote a large portion of their life to the faith.
Desme possesses an extremely admirable quality. I know that if I were as extraordinary as him in terms of baseball, I’d never want to give that up. I would stay in the game and go on to have a lucrative career, as I’m sure that was Desme’s future.
But he opted not to do that; he remained in God and chose to enter the Seminary, which as I understand he will begin attending in August. The process of becoming a priest takes a lot of time; Desme said he will be a priest in 10 years.
Speaking as the nephew of a Catholic priest, I know (probably better than most people) that being a priest isn’t just about saying mass and giving out communion. There’s a lot more to it than that. Priests’ lives are a lot more difficult than baseball players’.
My uncle, Fr. Tom Kreiser, has been a Catholic priest for about 16 years now. In those 16 years he has had to travel the world to make pilgrimages, relocate from his assigned parish several times, and even study in Rome, Italy for four years with other priests of his order.
All of that on top of learning a number of different languages (including Latin and Italian), learning to hear confession, and learning how to guide and help other people when they’re in serious trouble. For example, if an elderly wife loses her husband of 50 years and is unbelievably heartbroken, it’s a priest’s job to make sure that woman is going to be safe in her faith, mind, and body.
I’m not exactly sure how I would handle that. I don’t think I ever could.
I have to tip my (Yankee) cap to Desme. I wish him the best of luck at the Seminary and maybe one day I’ll get to attend one of his masses. He will be in my prayers and I truly pray he succeeds. I am glad he found what he was looking for in his faith.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow me.”–Matthew 19:21