‘Absolutely Fundamental’

In 2006, when little Thomas Crowley from Lansing began elementary school at the Church of the Resurrection, he could little imagine the future before him.

“Through that time and the four years I spent at Lansing Catholic, the Lord was preparing me,” he says today. “All the religion classes and the different retreat opportunities — there are countless hidden ways that I’m sure that the Lord was moving to prepare my heart.”

It was during Crowley’s junior year at Lansing Catholic that he encountered Jesus on retreat. 

“I heard God say to me for the first time that I am his, that he loves me,” Crowley says. “In that moment, he called me to sonship. That relationship with the Lord is the basis of everything in my life. Without that, I literally have nothing. That’s who I am. That’s who we all are. I’m a son.” 

Around the same time, Lansing Catholic began a new prayer group.

“We’d meet at 6:30 in the morning for Mass and prayer, and that was where I learned how to pray,” Crowley says. “We were given questions to talk with the Lord about, to ask the Lord what he thinks of us, how does he see us? In that prayer, I started to hear the echoes of a priestly call.”

Through these structured opportunities at school, Crowley began to recognize God’s voice.

“If I didn’t know his voice, then I wouldn’t have been able to hear him when he called me to be a priest during Mass one day in October, my freshman year at the University of Michigan,” he says. “I would never have been ready to hear that from him if I had not received what I received at Lansing Catholic: a relationship with Jesus.”

It wasn’t always easy for Crowley’s parents to support the cost of their son’s Catholic education. But through sacrifice and commitment, they made it happen.

“Maybe we didn’t have all the cool, shiny new things, but I’m grateful for that. My parents used their means in the best way possible, and they gave me, my brother, and my sister Catholic education, for which we’re all grateful,” he says. “And the reason for that was because my mother and father firmly believed that to have an education where Jesus was at the heart of it was vital.”

It was a worthwhile investment.

“I left the business school at the University of Michigan to follow God’s voice,” Crowley says. “I feel very prepared for anything because Jesus is at work, and he will draw me to himself. Not that it’s easy; it’s very difficult, but we weren’t promised easy.”

Now in his fourth year of seminary, Crowley attends the Pontifical North American College in Rome. 

“I go to classes in the city each day at a Jesuit university. I’m taught in Italian, which is also just crazy,” he says. “But I live in a house with 100-plus other men, other seminarians from across the United States who are pursuing Jesus. I wake up early; I pray, eat, sleep like the rest of us, and I study and I hang out with my brothers, and pray more. That’s a normal day.” 

Crowley says it’s a simple life. 

“It’s a difficult life, but it’s a simple life. But I must say, the fact that I’m here is just the grace of God,” he says. “My life is just a gift … wake up, surrender my life to Jesus, pray, pray, pray, give my heart to him each day, and try and strive to invite him in. 

“But my life is just a thank you to Jesus. I am just so grateful for all the gifts he’s given me and getting to be here is one of those.” 

Crowley encourages strong diocesan and parental support for Catholic education. 

“I, Thomas Crowley, met Jesus through Catholic education,” he says. “In Catholic education, we get to invite Jesus Christ, who is God, into every single class, into everything we do. We have a period set aside from class every day just for learning about him. We have opportunities for retreat, for prayer, for Mass throughout the week, for adoration, things that are life changing when God is present to us.

“Because Jesus Christ is everything and Catholic education is built to help students come to know Jesus through truth, beauty, and goodness in classes and in a personal relationship. It’s everything.”