Impact Story: Fr. Gabriel Griggs, C.S.C.

When I was a young kid, I thought that coming from a big family was one of the coolest things. My best friend came from a family of eight, and growing up close to the family, I thought that my path in life was to have a big, big family. I was pretty set on getting married. I put a lot of thought and energy and time into that, in good ways and bad. It wasn’t until my junior year in college at the University of Notre Dame, that somebody recommended that I think about the priesthood – a spiritual director and priest on campus, but not a Holy Cross priest. This dorm rector was the first to suggest to me that I think about it.

I thought about it… I thought, well I think I could be happy as a priest, and as a religious, but … I could also be happy being married…

I also realized a bigger feeling than the desire to have a family … a sense of responsibility for my mom. I’m the oldest child, and my mom is a widow. My dad died when I was 16. My mom has given so much for me to do what I do educationally, so I felt a responsibility to take care of her.

So, I dated somebody senior year and that didn’t work out. I decided to go down to Purdue to do graduate work in statistics and in the middle of that year, I just felt the call. It surprised my mom because she thought I was going to get married, and it kind of surprised my two siblings, but I received a lot of support from all of them. They sense the joy it brings me and recognize the really deep fit.

My postulant year, my mom became very, very ill and almost died. During that year, one of the things that I started to realize was that I was able to give her something more than what my financial prospects could provide. I could make a difference in her life and in the life of others. I’m called to be a very visible consecrated sign of God’s love and witness in the world and in ways that bring about transformative changes. I’m able to do this through the generous support of Holy Cross benefactors. Support of our work enables us to go through a rigorous process of formation and education: from the very beginning of our formation as postulants, we have priests and brothers who are dedicated full time to ensuring that we grow in the appropriate ways to serve as ministers and live this life with integrity.

The generous gifts we receive enable us to study full time for four years during the MDiv program, which helps us in ministry, as well as summer ministry experiences (especially those that entail going abroad to places such as France, East Africa, and Bangladesh), which serve as inspiration to get back into the classroom to become better able to articulate the faith, to teach it, and to preach it. Without such support, opportunities such as experiences abroad, language immersion, and other educational opportunities would probably be curtailed.

A lot of people are working hard for me to live this life and to serve in this way; I try to respond generously to that gift by putting as much of myself into my studies and formation as I can. My vows are not just for me; they are, in some mysterious way, also for the Church. The hope that we bring is Christ’s hope. I have come to know God’s love for me especially in my formation and in my common life in Holy Cross. This is the gift that sends me on mission and I am eager to serve. I am very thankful for the assistance – financial and spiritual – that enables us to serve in these ways.

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