(LifeSiteNews) – Converting to Catholicism as an adult is both intimidating and exhilarating. After you read all the books and become convinced that Christ founded one Church and that one Church is Catholic, the journey to actual conversion is not simple. Five years later, I am still learning Catholic things. We need help along the way. For me, that help came in the form of Father Terrence Gordon, FSSP.
Fr. Gordon served as the vicar of St. Joseph’s parish in Richmond, Virginia when I showed up in 2017, eager, but totally lost in a Latin Mass parish. Fr. Gordon stood out for being approachable and interested to get to know me and my family. His warm smile and youthful spirit were a window to his kind soul. A friend sent me a message noting that he was truly gifted in the confessional – and going into Fr. Gordon’s confessional for the first time is a moment of my journey to the Catholic faith I will never forget. Fr. Gordon heard my general confession on the day I became Catholic and when I was done, I knew I had been cleansed and that the man who had just heard my confession was acting in persona Christi. After decades of searching, I knew at last what it felt like to be a Christian.
Father Gordon was not just a good listener, though. His counsel was always right, and he knew how to aid me in making a complete confession. When I received absolution, I felt like I could run through a brick wall. It was always obvious when he was hearing confessions, because the lines to confess to him were always super long.
Fr. Gordon was also a bookworm and I spent hours in his office talking about spiritual writers. He introduced me to Garrigou-Lagrange and Jordan Aumann, and many others. He was especially interested in my family, and always assured me that he was praying for my wife and three children. My wife adored him, and I so wish I could have seen his face when he learned that she also came into the Church last year. He never doubted that it would happen, and made a point to emphasize the importance of my not being discouraged.
Father Gordon heard my general confession on the day I became Catholic and when I was done, I knew I had been cleansed and that the man who had just heard my confession was acting in persona Christi.
My guardian angel must have been at work when Fr. Gordon popped into my mind on Saturday while I was at adoration. I had no idea yet that he had just died on Friday, April 28. I was remembering an unforgettable, joyful day at St. Joseph’s, in the summer of 2018. The parish was hosting a camp for boys, and Fr. Gordon’s presence was everywhere. I was taking pictures, and I couldn’t believe what I saw. There he was, running around in his cassock in the heat and humidity, playing soccer, while praying the rosary. The boys flocked around him so naturally. I remember thinking that I would probably never see anything like it again, and I made sure to document the moment. It was so old-fashioned and lovely. Here was the beauty and goodness of the Catholic faith being lived and shared, in such a unique, natural, and unforgettable way.
The sadness I feel knowing I’ll never see him again is deep. Father Gordon was too young to die. This man taught by the way he lived and loved. I pray that I will never forget that, and that his intercession for me, and many others who loved him, will guide us to live and love with the same, simple beautiful Catholic faith.