The first thing Father David Nix told me (I was a sophomore in college) were words that stuck with me in the years to come. I didn’t like the words, but the person I am now agrees with him one hundred and ten percent. He said:
You will either get married and have ten children or you will be a Carmelite Nun.
Whoa…I am just trying to get through college – I mean, who is this priest? At that time I did not want either of those; and what a stretch, ten children or no children? He did not even know my name or anything about me. Yet, here I am seven years later and he was right. If I were to have been called to marriage, I would have been a mother to a large Catholic family. However, the Carmelite Nun part was the line that never left my mind. Even when discerning other religious orders, I kept wondering: why did Father say Carmelite? I want to thank Father Dave (usually affectionately called “Padre” by many) for being the priest, brother and most importantly, the fatherly figure in my life.
Padre is the type of priest who is either loved or hated. There is no in between. Do you know what that means? It means he is doing exactly what he is supposed to be doing. He has faced more contradiction and slander than any priest I have ever met. Why I think I love Father Dave so much as a father and why I always go back and say he is my favorite priest is because I have seen no other priest resemble Christ Crucified the way he does. If Padre was loved by all, he would not faithfully be following in the footsteps of the Crucified.
I was inspired to write this tribute as I was right in the middle of praying the Divine Office. I was at the beginning of Compline and I had an image of the Sacred Heart marked there. I sensed the Sacred Heart of Jesus urging me to thank Father Dave, because Father deserves to have all the good he has done, in the lime light. Google and other search engines never show that part of his priestly ministry, but what about the countless number of conversion stories and testimonies that he was a part of? For me, whenever I tell someone about my journey to religious life I say how Our Lady put me faithfully under the care of Padre; he nurtured and fostered my vocation to be a bride of Christ and led me to the doors of Carmel. I wonder if he really knew I was called to Carmel? When friends and family doubted my vocation to be genuine, often times he was the only one who never doubted it. He would say,
The very fact that you are worried that your vocation is not celibacy shows me that you are one hundred percent called to celibacy.
Father Dave was my Spiritual Director for four years before entering Carmel. During that time he led multiple mission trips and pilgrimages (Rwanda, Africa and the Camino de Santiago, Spain) and those trips were crucial, as Rwanda revealed to me the great love for Mary I needed to have as a Mother, Queen and Best Friend. The Camino showed me something I never imagined, that call I was ignoring for years- the call to be Christ’s spouse.
NO, anybody but me…why me? Why can’t I just be normal like everyone else?
You know who was right there, though? Padre. I made the courageous decision to leave my major of Animal Science (Veterinary Medicine) and my path to success by dropping out of college to pursue entering a convent and he was one of the first people I called. This is the role of the priest, this is why we must be nothing but grateful to our Heavenly Father that He uses priests to show His great and unfathomable mercy and His holy will. It is quite painful to Our Blessed Lady how many priests do NOT take their duties seriously, who are lukewarm or do not have the courage to “lose himself” or his reputation for Christ.
Even when I left the Carmel of Jesus, Mary and Joseph to pursue starting a new Carmelite Cloister with a Marian Vow he was just about the only priest who said,
I have the utmost confidence in your vocation and am still certain your vocation is forever celibacy.
Our Lady of Akita appeared to a deaf nun and said the demon will press many priests and consecrated religious to leave the service of the Lord. Let that remind us all, that we are living in unprecedented times, never before have we seen so much division in the Church today among clergy (Our Lady warned of this at Fatima and Akita). We must protect the priests (like Father David Nix) who are the real shepherds after Our Lord’s own Heart, who are the ones who love tradition, have a zeal for souls and a burning love for Mary. Thank you Father Dave (Padre) for always being that father who often reflected God’s own love for me as a daughter.
Satan is now more than ever attacking the role of the father. Whether that be the father of a family or the father as priest. I know for a fact if I had not had Father Dave as my director and father I most likely would have lost my vocation. Our Lord always spoke directly through him to tell me what to do next. Jesus told Saint Faustina,
Tell your director everything, be a child to him, and I will speak through him. I am borrowing his lips.
Just as the priest is acting in the “Persona Christi” at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, that expression holds true and firm to the priest in the confessional and the priest giving spiritual direction. That is why my first advice to anyone discerning religious life is: do you have a spiritual director? And (most importantly) is he a priest? Thank you for reminding me, Padre that while Christ is also my Spouse, the First Person of the Beloved Blessed Trinity… is a Father.