Nine Years from Conversion to Ordination for Jamie Workman

Nine years after Jamie Workman became a Catholic, he will become a priest.
Deacon Workman was born Aug. 7, 1975, in State College, Pa. He has two sisters and one brother, all younger.
He attended high school in Pennsylvania and then started his college career at Northern Virginia Community College. In 2000, he received his bachelor's degree in business management from George Mason University in Fairfax.
It was at George Mason where Workman discovered the Catholic faith. Before then, he considered himself a non-practicing, nondenominational Christian. Workman believes that God put all the pieces together for him when he was ready and willing to listen.
In 1996, he attended the Virginia Student Youth Leadership Conference in Williamsburg. He met people his age who were zealous for Christ. He wanted to be zealous with them.
Workman continued to explore the faith. The question became whether he should be Protestant or Catholic.
His love of history led him to study the history of Christianity. He always believed that there was a God and that He loved His people. He didn't understand why this benevolent God would come into history and then just disappear.
He compared a St. Joseph edition of the Bible with his King James version and quickly discovered five Old Testament books missing from the Protestant Bible. This reminded him of what he learned about the Protestant Reformation.
"It's a watered down version of Catholicism," he said. "After I realized that, I didn't want anything else."
While watching religious shows on EWTN, he was surprised that Mother Angelica didn't fit his stereotypical idea of a nun.
"She was laughing and making me laugh," he said.
Workman decided that the "fullness of understanding of Jesus Christ resides in the Catholic Church," he said.
After realizing that the Catholic faith was where he needed to be, the next step was to attend Mass and speak with a priest.
It took him a little while to work up courage to step into the chapel for Mass. The day after his first Mass, he joined RCIA.
"And I never looked back," he said.
He was baptized and confirmed at St. Robert Bellarmine Chapel by Father Bob Cilinski in 1997 when he was 22 years old.
"Arlington is my Catholic home," he said.
The year after Workman converted, he helped with the RCIA program at George Mason. During this time, he pushed the idea of becoming a priest out of his mind, even though many people told him to consider it.
At the time, he was dating a Catholic. For dates, they went to Mass or holy hour, and prayed the rosary or Liturgy of the Hours together. But the call to the priesthood grew stronger.
One day, he was watching the EWTN show, "Life on the Rock," and they were interviewing Nashville Dominican Sisters.
"They said there are three ways to know if you have a vocation - if other people see it in you, if you think about it yourself and if you've taken final vows or been ordained," he said. Workman had two out of three.
That's when he seriously began considering the priesthood. He discussed it with the woman he was dating, and she agreed he would make a good priest. He sent in his application to the Arlington Diocese.
"I found a spiritual director, and two years later, I entered Mount St. Mary's Seminary," he said. "And every day I've grown in enthusiasm and excitement."
Now, with his ordination days away, Workman looks forward to serving Christ and His Church, he said. "What I'm looking forward to is being the mediator of God's grace to people at the most intimate times of their lives." Angela E. Pometto can be reached at apometto@catholicherald.com.

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© Arlington Catholic Herald 2006