God needed a fighter. So he called Tom McCarthy.
Six years ago, McCarthy was living a good life. The 1994 graduate just bought a house, was taking M.B.A. classes and working at an annuities job at Union Central Life Insurance Co. But he kept feeling a tug at his heart. It was God calling. He needed a fighter.
The priest abuse scandal was nearing its frenzied peak, and while many people were shying away from the priesthood, McCarthy couldn’t help but feel he was being called into it. “Fight for me,” God kept saying. So after a great deal of soul searching, he sold his house, dropped his classes, resigned from his job and entered Mount St. Mary Seminary in Cincinnati. And as soon as he arrived, the media was there at the doorstep, waiting and wondering why, amidst all of the scandals, people were interested in becoming priests.
“You’re always going to have bad people in any profession,” he told them. “That’s true of the priesthood. But a lot of people don’t recognize all of the good priests out there and all of the good work they’re doing. So it’s either give up or fight. When it comes to something as important as the Church, you need to fight.”
It was his first fight for God—but not his last. In May, he was ordained a diocesan priest and assigned to a parish in the Cincinnati diocese where he’s celebrating Mass, presiding over weddings and funerals, and fighting for God daily.
McCarthy is no stranger to scuffles, though. After putting on some weight his freshman year at Xavier, a friend of his talked him into joining the boxing team as a way to shed a few pounds. “OK,” he said, “but I don’t want to do any sparring or fighting.”
That notion didn’t last long. By December, he was in the ring and on his way to accumulating an 8-4 record. He lost 50 pounds and didn’t quit until his senior year when he decided a job was more important than a jab. “I needed the money more than I needed a punch in the face,” he says. “But it taught me a lot of lessons, like giving up is never an option.”
And that even though your arms are too short to box with God, they’re never too short to fight for him.