A HIGHER CALLING
Ryan Adams studies philosophy and discovers God
As a college student at UDM from 2002-2005, Ryan Adams, who was raised a Missouri Synod Lutheran, enjoyed philosophical discussions ranging from whether there is a soul to whether or not God exists with Professor of Philosophy Donald Jarnevic. The professor challenged his skeptical views on those subjects and Adams admits his view of reality was materialistic.
“I was someone who thought there were physical explanations to all phenomena in the universe,” said Adams. “However, as a result of my conversations, I realized that the secular contemporary culture was the influence, and I saw how shallow my thinking was on such serious topics as the soul and God.”
During that time, Adams did not take religion seriously. He compares growing up when he did in the ’90s as being the age of indifference in accepting religion.
“In the 1950s, religion was an integrated, vital part of our culture and a way of life. Today, religion has become an option,” said Adams. “I found that faith isn’t just something you believe in. It is grounded, united and developed within reason.”
His debates with Jarnevic to prove that God didn’t exist prompted him to be open to the good arguments for God’s existence.
Before Adams came to UDM and before becoming Catholic, he stumbled upon the Manresa Jesuit Retreat House one day while riding his bike. Initially, the statues on the property caught his attention. He went back to admire the landscaping, and soon met the priests who lived there, most notably Fr. Ken Kunert, S.J., and Fr. Bernie Owens, S.J. It was Fr. Kunert who encouraged him to study philosophy at UDM. Adams graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from UDM in 2005.
Philosophy provided Adams with an openness to faith, which also opened his mind and heart for his next important milestone of becoming Catholic. He entered the Catholic Church toward the end of his last year at UDM. He then decided to take classes at Steubenville Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio to pursue a master’s degree in philosophy.
In Steubenville, he lived next to a parish where he attended mass regularly and witnessed parish life up close, especially admiring the way priests interacted with their parishioners. Thoughts about being a priest started to enter his mind. Adams points to his grandfather’s death as a catalyst for entering the priesthood. His grandfather was raised Catholic but married into the Russian Orthodox Church. As Adams deepened his faith, he took his grandfather with him to church as his grandfather was dying.
“I was very moved by the priest who prayed over my dying grandfather,” said Adams. “Meeting that very holy priest who anointed him, then witnessing the beautiful funeral service, moved me to take an affirmative stance to the calling into the diocesan priesthood.” Adams’ grandfather returned to the Catholic Church by going to confession and receiving last rites.
In 2008, Adams entered the Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, where he studies theology and philosophy and participates daily in holy mass, the divine office, classes and other formation activities. Once every other week, Adams serves in the community at Crossroads, which is a social service agency that is within walking distance from the seminary. Additionally, he assists with the food program at Holy Redeemer in southwest Detroit. Adams lives with more than 100 seminarians who come from places such as Peru, Zimbabwe and Poland.
“It’s a dynamic community and a whole new world when you enter seminary to develop a prayer life,” said Adams, who is pleased that he has also met deeply Catholic lay people studying at Sacred Heart.
Adams hopes to grow in all of the four pillars of seminary life: intellectual, spiritual, human and pastoral, so that one day he will be ordained a priest.
One area of the Catholic Church he hopes to influence relates to increasing leadership roles for parishioners so that lay people assisting at their church begin to see their work as a vocation and “not just helping out.” Adams hopes to encourage more Catholics to spread the word of God through service with a missionary spirit.
“I am anxious to lead a parish to the fullness of wisdom, which is discovered, found and fostered in Christ and his Church,” said Adams.