Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More on Father Donald Calloway

Recently my family and I posted about Fr. Calloway and the talk he gave at the Divine Mercy Conference.

Today, my friend Josephine shared a link which gives some background on Father Calloway's conversion and road to the priesthood. It is the most fascinating story I have ever heard of a person who totally turns around and gives his life to God and His Divine Mercy.

Rock bottom indeed! Now a 31-year-old priest who serves as assistant rector at the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Father Calloway had been a runaway youngster who was immersed in everything from drug
abuse to theft.

"I had gone through all a boy could do up to the age of twenty," he says. "My mother had been married three times and we had no religion. The family was very hedonistic. There was a downward spiral in my life."

It started in Virginia Beach -- where his stepfather was based in the military -- and continued when the family moved to California. Drugs, sex, smoking, and drinking -- all by the age 11. "It escalated to the point of getting out of control," he now recounts. "We moved near Los Angeles. Then to Japan. That rocked my world."

Uprooted so continuously from friends and his environment, young Donald Calloway had decided to teach his parents a lesson. As soon as they got to Japan, he became a "living hell" for them. He tied in with the wrong crowd and started doing "unbelievable" quantities of drugs -- opium, heroin, alcohol every day, even inhaling the fumes of gasoline.

That escalated to where he ran away from the military base and fled around the foreign country, committing felonies -- stealing "massive amounts" of
money, cars, mopeds. He even got involved running errands for the Japanese

"I had no concern about anything or anybody," says Father Calloway, whose mother had a breakdown, ended up consulting a priest, and became a Catholic -- something young Donald knew nothing about. She was also forced to return to the U.S. without him. Police even tapped phones to the military base to try to get the youngster, and finally did apprehend him. When they did, Calloway spat in the face of one of the military cops. By now he was 15 with long hair and a profane mouth -- so wild that he was shackled and deported.

Thrown out of Japan, Calloway returned to the United States, where he told his mother he hated her but agreed to enter a rehabilitation center. In short order he ran away from there too and went back to drugs on an even grander scale. Heroin, crack, LSD, uppers, downers. And there were the girls. "There came a point where I started following the 'Grateful Dead' and living in places like a tree trunk," recounts the priest. "In Louisiana, I ended up in jail. It was an absolute mess."

He was a drop out, his hair down to his belt. He was tattooed. It was "a life cycle of death." There was another attempt at rehabilitation, but of course, that fell short again. In fact, the drug use got even heavier.

"Then one night in 1992 I knew that my life would radically change, that something was going to happen in my life to cause a radical change," he says. "I knew something was going to happen. Something was coming."

It was this peculiar, sudden, and powerful intuition that changed his life -- a feeling so powerful that he turned down the calls from friends to come out to party as he did on a nightly basis. He still has trouble explaining exactly what happened. The prayers of a mother? (click title above for the rest of the story)

My son did ask Father Calloway if he was permitted back into Japan. He told my son he will know in about two years when he tries to visit Japan again but this time as a priest. My son also looked at his hand to see if Father still had his pinky as the Yakuza members have a missing pinky.

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