Fr. Greg is one of the holiest, kindest, most devoted priests I have had the privilege to meet. He is a constant example to me on how to live out the Catholic Priesthood with joy! He deeply cares for each one of his students and like our Lord lays down his life everyday for them.
When I had a late lunch at Johnny Rockets with the ‘new priest’ at GWU, I
had no idea I was talking to one of the most important people I’d meet in
my life. It was a few months after I graduated in 2009, and shortly before
I was to leave for the Army, so I was not anticipating making a great
personal investment in this relationship. Very quickly, however, Fr Greg
made an immediate impression as a man of uncommon joy, mirth, and zeal for
the Lord, and assumed a place in my life that only family and the closest
of friends could occupy.
An incident a few months later plunged me into one of the worst emotional
and spiritual places I had ever been in, and almost ended my relationship
with my girlfriend. I was unable to talk about it with anyone, except for
Fr Greg. This is a man who, from the start, built trust and a genuine sense
of being cared for as few people can do. I brought all my anger and sadness
to him, and he took it all in, and gave me Christ. He admonished me for my
sins that contributed to the situation, and taught me to forgive those of
others; I grew so much that Summer and Fall because of this one man’s love
and understanding. I have never met a priest who cares as much about
enkindling the faith in others, or created as genuinely spiritual and
deeply moving an environment as the newman center itself or the many social
and faith-building events he has led. He pours himself out for others in
such self-sacrificing love that I wish more husbands and wives showed each
Because of him, I was able to leave for Basic Training with a peace I’d
never felt before, a clear sense of purpose, and a stronger relationship
with my girlfriend than ever. When we got married in 2012, he came all the
way down to Georgia to celebrate at our wedding. That day, and both of our
lives, would have been very different without him. Through him, I have
experienced the love of an older brother, and that of Jesus Christ. Beyond
all the superlatives – and he is easy to write about in such terms -, Fr
Greg is the model of one who knows what the Lord requires of him; only to
do the right, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with God.
I haven’t always felt in perfect touch with my religious side. I get self-conscious and nervous when asked, especially when I encounter friends who can quote a list of their top ten favorite Popes faster than I can list what I had for breakfast this morning. I have trouble talking about what I believe in because I’m afraid I will be wrong or outstandingly uninformed.
This past winter has been particularly spiritually rough, especially on the morning of December 14th when my hometown experienced such an atrocity, I lost sight of God. There were moments where I didn’t know if my brother and my mother were safe. There were moments where I felt my spirit break when neighbors my family knew received the news that their children wouldn’t be coming home from school that day. With heightened confusion and sorrow, I ran to the first place I could think of, and that was the Chapel at the Newman Center. I ran into Father Greg, and when I told him the news, the first thing he offered was to offer a mass to the families who had lost children. He offered without question and without self-gain or self-satisfying heroism. This was just the beginning of his compassionate attitude toward the event. Later the next evening, he called me specifically to ask me how my family and I were doing, and additionally how members of the community were reconciling faith and tragedy. I sat and thought – ideas about the “community of life” and the notions that healing has to come from love and forgiveness will follow rushed out. I didn’t know I could express my ideas of faith that freely, and Father Greg’s encouraging words afterwards made me feel that for once I was speaking what I truly believed. Not only that, but I was applying the ideas of love that he himself has taught to our community, whether in sermon or just as the passing ideas of a thoughtful conversation. He is encouraging and he does think openly about what we students say to him. We are not just spiritual wards to him but spiritual gardens he loves to watch blossom. When I felt his encouragement, I believed more and more in this culture of life and love – not a culture of isolation and hatred which is so easy to fall into after tragedy. I have to thank him for not letting me lose faith in myself, nor my faith in God.
Father Greg is one of the best people to talk sports with. We always joke about football and ESPN, who’s playing where, who’s team is doing better this season etc. Also every time he has a rental car he gets a group of students and we go driving at all hours of the night blasting music and goofing off. Often we end up at McDonalds. He’s a bro and not only a great priest, but a friend as well.
I could have never imagined the journey I was about to embark on when I decided to meet with Fr. Greg weekly almost a year ago. I could have never imagined the positive impact and love this priest would give to my life either. And, I definitely could not have imagined that I would find myself discerning religious life with him.
My journey back to the Catholic Church was not one without contention. I spent months and months questioning and grilling Fr. Greg, but throughout my whole “vetting” period he remained patient and always available to me. I would read a new piece of literature that I felt challenged his position on an issue and would be so anxious to engage him in discussion on it I would just call him. I look back now amazed at his patience with me but it was that patience and his understanding that God chose to express Himself to me through.
When I finally confessed to Fr. Greg, my first confession in seven years, he sat there in silence, radiating with humility and love, as I sobbed and shared with him my deepest regrets. It was in that moment that he became a father like figure in my life. A man full of so much unconditional love for me, his spiritual child, and the courage to tell me the truth even when it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. From then on I have gone to Fr. Greg for comfort and guidance and he has always welcomed me with open arms…and candy.
But the most pivotal moment in my faith journey and growth as a woman occurred four months ago when I found out that my long-term boyfriend was cheating on me. This was a man that led me to believe we were going to get married and who I was planning my life around. No longer was I a 22-year-old woman. I was a broken and lost little girl. I was overwhelmed with pain, mad at God, and angry at this boy. I literally ran to Fr. Greg after I returned home from my Christmas break. I just sat in his office and cried for a long time till I could tell him what happened. Never had a hug been more comforting. His words to me on that day saved me. Saved me from a life of bitterness. A life void of love, beauty, trust, and truth and I have since forgiven my ex.
I was broken, remade again, and found redemption in Christ’s love. My heart is a cathedral that Christ has filled with song. A song that Fr. Greg helped open the doors of my heart too.
And, I now know what love really means because of Fr. Greg. Fr. Greg loves me as Christ loves me. Not for what I have done or what I will become, but he loves me for me. And, I will forever love him and be grateful for that.
Alright, all of these posts have been way too serious. Father Greg is a bro. I love smoking cigars, telling jokes, and hanging out with him. He’s not just “the man” during the hard times, he is also someone who I enjoy sharing the joys of every day with.
It’s difficult to express how much Father Greg and the entire Newman Center mean to me. When I first came to GW I had no intention to become a part of anything remotely religious. I only began going to the Newman Center to appease my parents. However, the more time I spent there the more I became hooked to Father’s message of love and community.