Brady grad living ‘la vida loca’ at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston

(Editor’s note: The following article was published in The West Texas Angelus, Newspaper of the Diocese of San Angelo and is re-printed with permission in this issue of Brady Standard-Herald.) Greetings! My name is Michael Matthiesen. I am a seminarian for the Diocese of San Angelo. I was born to the proud parents of Billie Jean and Norbert Matthiesen on Dec. 19, 1971. I was raised in the small farming and ranching community of Doole, about 60 miles east of San Angelo with my five sisters and one brother. We all worked hard on the family cotton farm taking care of and watching out for one another. After graduating from Brady High School in 1990, I attended Texas A&M University and majored in entomology (the study of insects) and eventually graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1994. Whoop! I was planning on returning to an agricultural area to invest my time in crop protection. However, my first employment landed me in a research laboratory in Sugar Land ( a suburb of Houston). Can you imagine a small town country boy in the big city’ Lord have mercy! I did not know what to do, but I quickly became acculturated to the beautiful city of Houston. I worked there for almost two years before returning home to help out on the family farm. After almost a year on the farm, I decided to move to the Panhandle of Texas to a town named Farwell. In Farwell, I worked for a fertilizer, seed and chemical company as a crop consultant for corn and cotton farmers. It’s so flat out there I could almost see the holy lands of College Station! However, I would not trade the sparkling night sky of the Panhandle for anything in the world. But, I did. I worked a deal with the seed company in Farwell that allowed me to go to Australia and work with a friend of mine as a cotton crop consultant and then return to Farwell after the growing season in Australia. In Aug. of 1997, I left for Australia to live and work in the Down Under for seven and a half months. I actually only worked for six months. Then, for the other month and a half, I traveled around the eastern half of the country. What a beautiful and untamed land. I returned to the States in May of 1998, resigned from my position at the seed company in Farwell, and applied to be a seminarian for the Diocese of San Angelo. I walked into the doors of Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving in Aug. 1998. How in the heck did this happen’ I went from living “la vida loca” to a situation that fostered the development of the human person and building a relationship with God and others. I had never as a young child or young adult considered being a priest. I remember my parents asking me as a child what I thought about being a priest, but I was going to be a professional basketball player. How was I going to be able to play basketball and be a priest, too’ I think I first felt the call to the priesthood when I was 26 and had returned to work on the family farm in 1997. You know, driving tractors gives you a lot of time to think (maybe more people in this world need to drive tractors). I believe God spoke to me one day, not in words, but in grace. Warm feelings of peace and love can break down barriers of pride and self-centeredness. So quietly, I began considering priesthood. It was not until I was in Australia that I seriously considered priesthood. God bless Fr. P.J. O’Neil in Walgett, New South Wales, Australia. Through prayer and visiting with Fr. P.J., I decided to enter the seminary when I returned to the States. My seminary experience has been incredible. My first two years were spent in Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving. Because I already had a college degree (did I mention from Texas A&M University!!), I entered as a pre-theologian focused on studying philosophy in order to meet the 36 hour requirement to enter a theology seminary. I met many wonderful people from all over the world at Holy Trinity Seminary. There were guys from Mexico, Vietnam, Philippines, Venezuela, Columbia, Spain and even Arkansas. We prayed, we studied, we worked and we played! After completing my studies at Holy Trinity Seminary, I was accepted to study theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. I am currently in my second year at St. Mary’s Seminary and loving every bit of it. As I continue to look within myself, I learn more and more about who I am and what I am called to become’not a perfect human being, but an instrument to be used by God to reveal the message of love that His Son so beautifully wrote on the cross and that we so nonchalantly read, only later to forget. God willing, I will be ordained a priest of the Diocese of San Angelo in May 2005. Am I still living “la vida loca'” You better believe it. I am a seminarian that prays, studies, goes to the movies, plays basketball, football, tennis, soccer, racquetball and softball, works in soup kitchens, teaches CCE, cares for the sick in the hospital, goes on mission trips to less fortunate parts of the world, loves my family and friends, likes county, top-40 and rock music, likes to fish, snow ski, water ski and hike, and last but not least, serves at the altar of God. What are you doing with your life’

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