FR DAVID'S 'AWESOME ADVENTURE'
'If God has a plan for you, he is not the kind of guy to mess with'
St Mary's former student Fr David Marsden didn't really want to be a priest.
But, at the end of a 'wonderful year' working with the Sacred Heart Fathers at Dehon House, South Wirral, the calling he felt from God was 'irresistible'.
He was 20 years old, had a girlfriend, and as a lay youth worker at the time, imagined a future for himself as a husband and father.
Fr David, now a teacher of trainee priests at the Irish national diocesan seminary, said: 'Yes, there was massive resistance and aversion at first, as I definitely wanted to marry and have children at some stage.
'But if God has a plan for you, He is not the kind of guy to mess with.'
He added: 'The reluctance eventually subsided as a real sense of joy and renewed sense of meaning slowly appeared in my mind and heart.
'This was indeed the plan from the beginning of time, and it was going to be an awesome adventure.
'How could I say no to that?
Fr David is Vocational Growth Counsellor at St Patrick's College, Maynooth, near Dublin.
He was first sent there by the Sacred Heart Fathers to study Philosophy and Theology, with a spiritual year in Belgiumfollowed by a pastoral year in India and the Philippines.
He was ordained in 2002 after eight years as a seminarian.
When Fr David was a student at St Mary's back in the late 80s and early 90s, he remembers in great detail the youth retreats he joined at Dehon House and Savio House, a Salesian youth centre inCheshire.
Dehon House, sadly, is no longer in operation, but students still go regularly to Savio.
'AS YOU GROW UP YOU REALISE WHAT YOUR TEACHERS HAD TO PUT UP WITH!'
Said Fr David: 'I have many staff members to thank for their generosity, particularly Mr Fitzpatrick, Mr Polachowski, Mr Rowlands, Mr Brown and Miss Kelly.'
'As you grow up, you begin to realise what your teachers had to put up with and you become very grateful!'
An exceptional memory for him as a Sixth Former was the pilgrimage to Lourdes in the year he left, 1992.
He said: 'It was a Stand By Me experience in terms of the friendships that were celebrated during that final summer of school. Would you believe that I still have the video of that week in France, as well as a year book signed by all my old mates? What a trip that was!'
When he left St Mary's he got a job working full time at Dehon House as part of a newly expanded youth team, working alongside the community of Sacred Heart Fathers.
'AFTER A WEEK AT DEHON, IT WAS HARD NOT TO BELIEVE IN GOD'
The two years he spent at Dehon were 'pivotal and utterly transformative'.
'They would give me a radically new horizon of meaning in my life' said Fr David.
'They are two years that I am still living out of today. It is hard to describe the joy and hope that I lived and experienced in that place on a weekly basis.
'To see the action of God at work in broken teenagers was truly inspiring.
'After a week at Dehon House it was hard not to believe in God.'
Fr David added: 'I would like to thank all those who helped me through my time in St Mary's. I can't name them all, but many staff members and real friends were there and it was a happy time in so many wonderful ways.
'ENJOY THOSE YEARS OF YOUTH AS THEY FLY BY'
'My message to any present students reading this is to enjoy those years of youth as they fly by. I guess we never realise how good we have it until it is gone.
'The last word has to go to God the author and creator of all life. Commit your life to Him and I guarantee you will experience a fabulous life of profound joy and meaning.
'He will help you avoid much of the emptiness and confusion of modern life and truly give you something to live for, something to give your life for.
'Thank you, St Mary's College.'
Report by Elaine Webster
12 February 2013