For Michael Horne, what began as a career in the
entertainment industry has turned into a life caring for
those in need of mental health services. As the program
director for Catholic Charities in Fredericksburg, Horne now
spends his days counseling people with depression, stress,
addictions or marital problems in one of the most underserved
communities in the state.
Horne, a parishioner of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception
Church in Fredericksburg, was born in New Orleans in 1978,
but spent his youth moving around the world before settling
in Texas while in high school. As a young adult, Horne began
to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He studied
radio, television and film at the University of Texas and he
spent several years dabbling in acting, writing, directing
and production as an audio technician for PBS in Houston.
After a few years, Horne realized that although his job was
interesting, it was not fulfilling.
"I really just didn't feel that God was calling me to be
there," he said. "Entertaining people is good, but is it
really helping people?"
At the same time, Horne was experiencing a spiritual
reversion, returning to the Catholic faith he had left behind
as a young adult.
"I was just realizing that there was something more than what
was being put forth as good and goals in life, and
recognizing that those things weren't totally fulfilling,"
Horne said. "From there, I started to develop a better
understanding of the faith and what that said about people
and their dignity."
Though he had only taken one psychology class in high school,
Horne felt drawn to the idea of working with kids as a child
psychologist. To explore that option, he enrolled in the
Institute of Psychological Sciences (IPS) in Arlington in
While pursuing his doctorate, Horne taught troubled students
in Washington and spent his residency year working with
Catholic Social Services in Lincoln, Neb. For his
dissertation, Horne wrote about the effects of video games on
While at IPS, Horne also met Kara. They married in 2007 and
now have two children, Liam and Maeve.
After completing his doctorate in 2009, Horne worked for a
year at a Christian counseling service and spent time working
at the Alpha Omega Clinic, a counseling service that
integrates psychology with the Catholic faith. He has been at
Catholic Charities since 2012 and he enjoys working at a
place where his faith is on the forefront.
"I didn't plan on working at a Catholic clinic, but it seemed
like such a natural fit," Horne said. "My time (with Catholic
Social Services) in Lincoln really showed me how important it
is to work at a place where the faith is right out front and
everything that says to people. The idea that we see people
as having an innate dignity and the capacity to flourish and
become what it is that God calls them to be, I think that
Today, Horne's clients include children, teenagers, adults
and married couples struggling with all varieties of mental
health problems. Approximately 40 percent of the people
Catholic Charities serves identify as something other than
Catholic, he said.
"We want to serve the needs of the community and meet them
where they are," Horne said. "We often say that we serve
people because we're Catholic, not just because they have to
be. We want to go out there and do what we can for the poor
in mind, body and spirit."
As program director, Horne enjoys working as a manager and
networking with other Catholic charities agencies and local
nonprofits. He has learned how great the need is for mental
health services is in Fredericksburg.
"They have the highest rate of mental health hospitalizations
in the state," Horne said. "There's a real need and being
able to collaborate with other agencies here to address that
need is something I'm honored to be a part of."
Though his job is challenging and there's always more to be
done, Horne says it is wonderful to know that he is helping
bring people closer to the lives God wants them to have. He
sees his job as an extension of his faith.
"Practicing my faith makes me a better psychologist and being
a psychologist gives me a better understanding of my faith,"
Horne said. "It's the idea of seeing people, not just as the
world sees them, but as God sees them."
Horne believes it's important for psychologists to understand
their clients' faith backgrounds.
"For a long time, psychology didn't do a very good job of
understanding where people were coming from, from a faith
perspective," Horne said. "I think within the past 15 to 20
years, psychology had one of the highest rates of
nonpracticing (of any faith) practitioners. Places like IPS
and Catholic Charities are trying to shift that perspective.
When it is grounded in the teaching of the church,
psychology can be tremendously effective and is able to meet
people where they are."
In the years to come, Horne hopes to help Catholic Charities
open more clinics in Stafford and Colonial Beach, while
strengthening their connections with parishes throughout the
diocese. In the meantime, he is just happy to have finally
found the fulfillment he was looking for as a young adult.
"If you'd asked me 15 years ago where I thought I was going
to be, this wouldn't have been in the top five answers, but
if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans," he said.
"I've tried to go along with what He wants and I'm delighted
to be here. I couldn't imagine being in any other field."
For others searching for fulfillment, Horne suggests they
remain hopeful and open to what God is telling them to do. He
remembers an expression from a priest friend - "God gives the
gift of faith and the gift of understanding and He rarely
gives both of them to us at the same time."
"Sometimes things that may seem like doors closing may be the
absolute best things for you because it means that there's
something else, some other path," Horne said. "Keep having
the faith, having that willingness to give your own fiat and
knowing that God's going to lead you where you need to be."
Bahr can be reached on Twitter@KBahrACH.