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Donald Calloway’s life of pornography, sexual promiscuity and drug use led him to run away from home as a teenager in the late 1980s.
Home, at the time, was Japan, where his mother and naval stepfather were stationed.
A criminal wanted for breaking the law on more than one occasion, Calloway was eventually caught by Japanese authorities and deported back to the U.S., where he was placed in a rehabilitation center. He was only 16 at the time.
Getting out of rehabilitation a month later, Calloway admitted he was “an uncaged animal” and went back to doing heroine, cocaine, LSD and other drugs. His continued sexual promiscuity led to his contracting a sexually transmitted disease. He was arrested for stealing from a Piggly Wiggly supermarket.
To top it off, his parents had converted to Catholicism while he was in rehabilitation.
His sex, drugs and MTV mentality that had started at age 11 continued for a time, but finally, one night, Calloway had a crisis of being.
“I came to the conclusion that life sucks,” he told the nearly 900 men who attended the third annual Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference on Sept. 27 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. “I wanted to die.”
At his parents’ house that evening, he found a book on Marian apparitions, opened it and absorbed its message.
Though he thought the Catholic Church was a cult, “the way the children [in the book] described her [Mary] was fascinating to me,” Calloway said.
“I was so attracted to her. Here was a beauty I had never encountered before,” he continued.
“She was pointing me in the direction of Jesus. If anyone really knew him, it would be his mother.”
That powerful experience helped lead him to attend his first Catholic Mass and began his journey to becoming a priest.
Calloway went home and threw away all his pornography, drug paraphernalia and music, he said. “I found God’s rehabilitation center, the Catholic Church.
“Jesus is the divine physician.”
Ordained a member of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception in 2003, Father Donald said though the Blessed Virgin Mary played a key role in helping him turn his life around and leading to his vocation, the biggest part of his conversion was looking at women as daughters of God.
After growing up exposed to a culture of death and perversion, that was an extremely hard thing to do, he said.
“Catholicism is the defender of beauty,” he said. “You’re called to be defenders of beauty.”
Sponsored by the Marian Center in Indianapolis, the title of the conference was “Lions Breathing Fire: Christ Our Hope.” Taken from a homily by St. John Chrysostom, a fourth-century saint, it describes what people should look like after receiving Communion.
Father Donald, 36, who lives in Steubenville, Ohio, where he serves as vocations director for his religious order, admitted he is still “a man under construction” and told those in attendance that they need to become men of sacrifice. He added that humility needs to be a part of their lives, and encouraged them to have a devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Share your wounds with a brother, go to frequent confession,” he said. “No man truly becomes a man without a woman in his life, especially this woman.”
Later during Mass, Father Donald reiterated his call for men to have a relationship with the Blessed Mother.
“You have to be on the side of this holy woman to crush this enemy [Satan].
“She is the mother of all the living. Without her, we cannot have life.”
He also encouraged them to pray the rosary daily.
“Allow God’s holy mother to be your mother,” Father Donald said in his homily. “Don’t be afraid to pray the rosary with your brothers. Surrender to the fullness of the mystery.”
(More coverage of the Indiana Catholic Men’s Conference will appear in next week’s issue.) †