Deacon Smith Gives up Control, Trusts in God

As a child, Deacon Charles Smith never thought, "I want to be a priest when I grow up."
Born in Florida in 1964, Smith's family moved to Northern Virginia in 1974 and witnessed the creation of the Arlington Diocese. He attended Holy Spirit and St. Michael Schools in Annandale and Bishop O'Connell High School in Alrington.
The only son in a family with four children, Smith earned a bachelor's degree in International Studies from George Mason University in Fairfax in 1987 after also studying at Schiller International University in Germany. He worked in insurance sales and government contracting, and it wasn't until he was in his 30s that Smith thought perhaps he might have another calling in life.
"(Being a priest) certainly wasn't on my radar in high school," Smith said. "It was more of an unfolding as I started working. It was an inner-calling and it took me a while to respond."
Smith had several friends tell him he would make a good priest. Although his parents never openly pushed him to pursue a religious vocation, when he was in his mid-30s, his father also told him he thought he'd make a good priest.
Smith said about those who encouraged him, "They were a huge influence, especially hearing it from my father."
He met "an outstanding young priest" and began pursuing his vocation more seriously.
"It all started to come together," he said.
When he told his family about it, Smith said, "they were absolutely thrilled."
He said the fear that his parents wouldn't be happy about him joining the priesthood was another excuse he had used to not pursue a vocation early, but their reaction was "the exact opposite" of what he had expected.
Smith's favorite part of his formation so far has been interacting with the people at the parishes where he's been assigned - St. John in McLean, St. Mary in Alexandria and All Saints in Manassas, as well as parishes in Philadelphia.
"I've enjoyed meeting all the good people that are just into their faith and take their faith seriously - especially lay people on fire for their faith and working for the Church," Smith said. "All the priests that I've been assigned to have been inspirational."
In the final few days before his ordination, Smith said, "I'm really trying, working hard to trust God and put myself in His hands and let Him show me where to go. I have a tendency, like most people, to want to be in charge."
Smith said he is trying not to worry about where he will be assigned or how good of a priest he will be, but is working on putting all his trust in God, knowing that He will lead the way. Mary Frances McCarthy can be reached at mmccarthy@catholicherald.com.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2006