Responding to His grace — Maurice Moon
As he prepares for his ordination to the priesthood on May 19, Deacon Maurice Moon recalls a popular quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “I have been all things unholy. If God can work through me, He can work through anybody.”
Those words are something he likes to share with other young men considering a religious vocation.
“The Lord’s grace is sufficient,” Moon said encouragingly. “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.”
He speaks from experience. Born into the faith, the cradle Catholic admits veering away from the Church as a teenager. After his Confirmation, the 15-year-old stopped going to Mass.
“I finished high school and started working full time,” he said, remembering his busy lifestyle. “For many years, I kept telling myself money was going to make me happy and getting married would make me happy.”
But, despite the companionship of a girlfriend and steady paychecks, something was missing from his life. That “something” was God.
“When I realized that, I started reading the Bible for the first time,” he explained. “I knew I couldn’t be a Christian and live the way I was living. By the grace of God, I was able to let go of some of the things keeping me away from Him.”
Moon also found answers in Catholicism for Dummies, a casual, down-to-earth book about the religion. Chapters on the Church’s history, beliefs, and the sacraments gave the inquisitive food industry worker basic information he didn’t learn as a youngster.
“I never knew the faith,” he said candidly. “I didn’t know the Church was 2,000 years old and didn’t understand that Jesus was in the Eucharist — body, blood, soul, and divinity. I didn’t know I could go to confession and have all my sins forgiven.”
Receiving the sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time in 15 years is still a fresh memory for Moon, who was ordained a transitional deacon on April 29, 2017. The penitent describes his confessor as being very patient and gentle and the act of absolution as transformative.
“When the priest absolved me, I felt this peace and joy,” he explained. “It was like getting a second chance at life. From that moment on, I began figuring out what God wanted me to do.”
Through prayer, Mass, and frequent Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the former St. Vincent de Paul parishioner felt called to the priesthood. His parents, Randy and Maureen Moon, recognized the change in their son and supported his decision to enter the seminary. Fellow employees at the Chili’s restaurant where he worked as a waiter were more taken aback.
“A lot of my friends were surprised I was taking this route,” Moon said, explaining to them that the draw to a religious life came after years of restlessness, discontent, and being unhappy. “Nothing in this world was fulfilling me. I needed something more powerful — God.”
In 2009, at the age of 23, the Arlington native began his studies at St. Joseph Seminary in Covington, La. where he earned a liberal arts degree with a focus on philosophy. Before ordination, he will complete a graduate-level academic degree in sacred theology at Washington, D.C.’s Theological College at Catholic University.
A pastoral year spent at St. Bartholomew Parish in Fort Worth introduced the seminarian to the busy schedule of a pastor and the day-to-day needs of his flock.
“It was a great experience getting to know people who showed me the difficulties, challenges, and joys of being Catholic,” said Moon, who witnessed close-up the value of ministry. “I visited the sick and the incarcerated. I also enjoyed teaching youth and young adults.”
The seminarian — once a confused teen himself — likes helping young people discover God’s will in their lives.
“They’re getting a lot of mixed messages from the world and that’s something I can relate to,” he continued. “I think knowing clarity, truth, beauty, and goodness is so important for every person — especially youth.”
Moon saw those qualities in two men who mentored him as he discerned a vocation. He credits Father Ray McDaniel and Father Jonathan Wallis for serving as worthy examples of diocesan priesthood.
“They conveyed to me the beauty and truth of the Church and were always available,” the transitional deacon explained. “Both were inspiring and a big influence on me.”
As a seminarian, Moon completed pastoral assignments in different parts of the diocese and enjoyed visiting different parishes. But one community is special, he confessed. The morning after his ordination, the new priest plans to celebrate his first Mass at St. Peter Parish in Lindsay.
“I did my first summer assignment there and really connected with the community,” Moon added. “They took me in as one of their own and I really felt at home. I went back every chance I got.”
During the next few months, Moon also will celebrate Mass in other churches significant in his life including St. Vincent de Paul in Arlington, St. Philip the Apostle in Lewisville, St. Mary in Gainesville, and St. Bartholomew.
As he prepares for the sacred rite of Holy Orders, the 32-year-old is thankful for the support and encouragement shown by parishioners and organizations like the Knights of Columbus, Serra Club, and Catholic Daughters of America.
“We experience the love of God through other people, and the generosity of others helped me experience the love of God in my life,” the soon-to-be priest said. “People want good, holy priests. I’ve seen that. I’ve been inspired by that and I want to give my life to the people of Fort Worth so I can be a good and holy priest for them.”
The Diocese of Fort Worth invites you to attend the Ordination Mass of Jonathan Michael Demma and Maurice Lawrence Moon on Saturday, May 19 at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick Cathedral.