Jacob Moylan

From the time my 9th-grade classmates used their newfound knowledge of world history to strike at the basis of my Catholic faith, I found myself wanting for a deeper understanding of God’s role in our world. From then on over the years of personally challenging the faith, I have found only more reason to believe that God has uniquely blessed the Catholic Church, despite the efforts of those foes both without and within.

In time, despite growing up in the public schooling system, I found meaning in God’s Providence, and began exploring His purpose for my life. It was during my 11th grade that the undeniable calling to become a priest first stirred within me, shaping the path I would walk.

During my time at Arizona State University, I was genuinely blessed to have access to a Newman Center. The ministries there provided fertile soil for me to flourish into a man of God. I actively served at the altar, engaged in enriching Bible studies, and established a steadfast prayer routine that nourished my soul.

At the end of my freshman year, the Newman chaplain’s counsel provided a deep sigh of relief when he pointedly declared that despite the pressure of others, I do not have to be a priest just because I am a pious young man. He even encouraged me to explore dating relationships. That same week, I went to a social dancing event and met a pious woman that I would share a devout and beautiful courtship with for over a year, however that entire time the longing to become a priest persisted within me. Around the time that relationship ended, my Christian readings led me to discover the depth of Orthodox Christian beliefs and practices. Fueled by curiosity, I began attending St. Thomas Byzantine Catholic parish, immersing myself in its traditions, initially during the weekdays of Lent, and eventually becoming a regular attendee on Sundays.

It was at this parish that I met with the pastor, and through this encounter, I wholeheartedly embraced the Byzantine tradition. Seeking further guidance, I met with the eparchy’s vocation director, who lovingly cautioned me against joining the Byzantine tradition solely for the possibility of indulging in the potentially conflicting dual vocation of the married priesthood. As I matured in the Byzantine faith, I embarked on a year-long dating fast, using that time to immerse myself in the writings of Byzantine saints and mystics, including Elder Porphyrios’ Wounded by Love, John Climacus’ The Ladder of Divine Ascent, and the first few volumes of that great compendium of Greek monastic wisdom, The Philokalia. My friends noticed that these contemplative writings were changing my mannerisms into those of a saint, though if anything I saw myself as more a sinner!

During the summer before completing my bachelor’s degree, I underwent a transformative month-long retreat at Duchovny Dom monastery. Nestled in that holy mountain sanctuary, I discovered a profound appreciation for the monastic lifestyle and felt God’s presence more intimately than ever before.

Upon returning home to complete my degree, my belief in becoming a diocesan priest remained steadfast. I began the seminary application process, but a month after graduation, an overwhelming and undeniable urge stirred within me, leading me back to the monastery, this time with unwavering certainty for my vocation.

In the year that has passed since then, I have embraced the monastic life with unwavering dedication. Finding joy and fulfillment in working on the monastery’s farm, preparing meals for my fellow monks, and extending hospitality to pilgrims during special retreats, I feel closer to God with each passing day, experiencing immeasurable peace and contentment.

Today, I stand before you, seeking the opportunity to advance further in my monastic journey. However, a significant obstacle remains – the weight of my student loan debt, which amounts to $7500 of federal direct student loans. Unfortunately, the Biden-Harris administration’s student debt relief plan, which was meant to offer reprieve, was recently blocked, leaving me responsible for this debt.

With sincerity and humility, I implore you to consider my heartfelt plea to enable me to continue following God’s plan for me. This young and small monastery holds immense potential for spiritual growth and serves as a haven for those seeking divine connection. St. Joseph is the patron of our chapel, and we pray to him every day. His intercessions have always been good to us, and I heartily believe that being endowed with this grant would fertilize my vocation here, for the good of this infantile men’s monastery – perhaps the only one in the Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic Church – and for the advancement of contemplative prayer in the Catholic Church as a whole.

I firmly believe that God has led me to this monastery, and it is where I am meant to serve Him wholeheartedly. The monastic life has become my calling, and I am dedicated to dedicating my life to contemplative prayer and serving others in God’s name.

By offering financial assistance, you will not only assist me in clearing my debts but also enable me to focus entirely on my spiritual journey, allowing me to contribute fully to the growth and prosperity of this monastery. I promise to honor this opportunity with gratitude and dedication, becoming a humble servant of God and a source of hope and inspiration to all who encounter this special place.

May God’s grace guide your decision, and may His divine plan continue to unfold in each of our lives. Thank you for considering my heartfelt plea, and I pray that my vocation story resonates with your hearts, inspiring you to support the future of this young and small monastery.

2024 Grant Recipient

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