Proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths. But you be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.
—2 Timothy 4:2-5

Like many Catholics, I was raised in a home that prayed the rosary nightly, went to Church weekly and on holy days of obligation, attended a public school for my academic education and C.C.D. for my education in faith. And, like many Catholics, that was about the depth of my faith commitment to Jesus Christ and His Church. Looking back on my experience, I now refer to what I did then as “checking the boxes” also known as “going through the motions.”

After serving four years in the U.S. Marine Corps, I attended Modesto Junior College. Junior College provided just the little push I needed to stop practicing my faith altogether. My Western Civilization professor was anti-Christian enough to help me see the “error” of the Christian way and send me packing toward atheism. After wrestling at Modesto J.C., I transferred to Humboldt State University to play football. It didn’t take long for me to truly embrace the Humboldt way of life! Not until I was halfway through my college education did God “get a hold of me” to win back what was His.

After a year in Humboldt, I had a conversion experience. My roommate was gone, the t.v. was off and I felt incredibly lonely. Not accustomed to feeling so, I called two friends to no avail, plopped back down on the couch and realized that the emptiness I felt could only be filled with God. That sounds normal enough, but for a person who understood God as a purely intellectual endeavor that was learned (or not learned) as a child, to think that a “relationship” with God is what I needed in order to be whole was entirely divorced from any personal experience or reason. This epiphany could only have come from God.

I was introduced to a wonderful Christian girl who invited me to a Campus Crusade for Christ Bible study led by a Baptist minister. I fell in love with Jesus Christ and Scripture in those two years. Because of my ignorance about the Catholic Church’s teachings, I believed what I was told about the “uselessness” of the Catholic Church’s traditions. I was told to “call no man father,” to reject the doctrine on Purgatory, Mary, Apostolic succession, and our belief in faith and works for salvation. In fact, the only thing I did cling to was the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture, but only at the expense of Tradition.

After spending a summer in Colorado at the Rocky Mountain Bible Institute, I realized that I could not teach the theology taught by Campus Crusade. I met wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ with spirit and zeal, but with so many disagreeing with one another over whose interpretation of Sacred Scripture was “right,” I decided to go on a quest to find out who had the right to authoritatively interpret Sacred Scripture.

In my journey for this truth I discovered what Apostolic Succession really means, the value of Tradition and the importance of faith AND works–the response of faith! Whereas I fell in love with Jesus Christ in Campus Crusade, I fell in love with both He and His Church through great writers such as Karl Keating, Scott Hahn, Peter Kreeft and others. After much study, I can say with confidence that there are a lot of people claiming to be right, but only the Catholic Church has the most claim to be right when it comes to Christ’s teachings, the Christian community’s worship, and the interpretation of Sacred Scripture. I am indebted to Campus Crusade and so many others who shared their joy in a personal relationship with Christ with me, and then as now, I could not wait to share my own new-found joy with my Catholic brothers and sisters as well.

With this new information, I returned to Humboldt and told the Campus Crusade minister that I did not believe, nor could I teach faith alone for salvation nor Scripture alone for truth. When asked what I believed, I told him that I believed in faith and works, and Scripture and Tradition. With great sadness he admitted to questioning my salvation and told me that if I felt that strongly about it that I could not teach with Campus Crusade and ought to teach Catholics instead. I did just that and am forever indebted to the leadership, guidance and encouragement that I received from him and others in the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry.

After teaching 8th grade for two years at St. Stanislaus Parish School, in Modesto, CA, I was asked to begin an Adult Education & Evangelization program. Two years later I  finished my Masters in Theological Study at the Franciscan School of Theology, in Berkeley, and now teach in Catholic schools. I have taught Biblical Literature, Church History, Moral Theology, Sacraments, Social Justice, Christology and World Religions. I now live with my wife, Jill, and sons, Mark and Luke in Turlock, and teach at Central Catholic High School, located in Modesto, CA.

My passion is teaching Catholics why it’s not just okay to be Catholic, but fantastic to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the Catholic community! I teach how to explain our Catholic Church’s teachings and, most importantly, what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the Church He started! Please consider inviting me to your parish to share this “pearl of great price” with your parishioners.

Please feel free to post thoughts or comments below. May God bless you mightily!

One night in a vision the Lord said to Paul, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.
—Acts 18:9-10

7 comments on “About

  1. what kind of talk could you give for a Catholic high school parent retreat a couple hours south of you? we have a few different areas we are trying to explore1) theological perspective on parenting. 2) parenting in the new millennium. 3) parenting as a community/building a parent community

    • Hi Maria. I would love to offer a retreat for your parents. The Church has some wonderful documents/teachings on the role and responsibility of parents in the community of faith. I would be happy to work with you on creating a meaningful retreat experience for your parents. I’ll email you ASAP!

  2. Stephen: What do you mean when you said “I fell in love with both He and His Church through great writers such as Karl Keating, Scott Hahn, and others” but “still don’t know who’s “right,” but I firmly believe that the Catholic Church has the most claim to be right when it comes to Christ’s teachings, the Christian community’s worship and the interpretation of Sacred Scripture”?

    • Hi Samuel. Thanks for your question. The context of my comment was with the wide variety of interpretations (and often conflicting ones) of Scripture by a number of Christian communities that today exist, and the implications for Christians. I am saying as a matter of fact that beyond having been there to have seen for one’s self each person must place confidence in someone else’s claim to what was true or the ways things went. Each of us must choose to believe in one interpretation or another, as Scripture doesn’t interpret nor speak for itself. I was not there with Jesus, but the Church was. It was that Church in union with Peter and the apostles, and later through their successors, that canonized the New Testament through various Church councils throughout the 4th century, and it’s that same Church’s Magisterium that continues to provide the most authentic witness to the truths and implication of Scripture today. So, humbly but truthfully speaking I cannot KNOW who’s right, but I do know that the Catholic Church has the most claim to be right for reasons mentioned above. I hope that helps a bit. Thank you for the question.

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I too grew up in a Catholic home, but did not really understand my faith or love it! I went to public school and ccd. I have been teaching in a Catholic school now for several years. It was not until my husband finally became Catholic that we together are growing in our faith and I now know what it means to have a loving relationship with God. We together have been asked to lead the RCIA classes at our parish. We have a retreat in a few weeks and I am trying to plan but need some guidance. Do you have suggestions?

    Your servant in Christ,

    • Hi Jane! I think the best retreat addresses those things the audience is most in need of hearing! Are there particular topics that interest them? The Sacraments, Our Life in Christ? The Sacrament of Confirmation itself and what it really means for them. The Seasons in the Church/Liturgical Calendar. Maybe a “workshop retreat” where they investigate/diagram the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I think a huge stumbling blocks and the topic of great misunderstanding are things that are particular to the Catholic Church like, The Eucharist, The Papacy/Apostolic Succession, The hierarchy of the Church and Holy Orders, Vocations within the Church, Confession to a priest, Mary-ology (understanding the dogmas–what they are and what they aren’t). Whew! I hope this helps! May God bless your ministry!
      In His Grip,

  4. Hi Stephen –
    I was in attendance at the Teams of Our Lady retreat last spring – thank you again for your leadership in our talks!
    I serve on the board of directors with the Tulare-Kings Professional & Business Club and am reaching out to see if you might be available to speak at one of our breakfast meetings.
    I look forward to speaking with you!

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