Oakland A's recruit hangs up jersey to don habit

Vocations Director Fr. Ambrose Criste. Credit: Nobertine Fathers' St. Michael Messenger.
Vocations Director Fr. Ambrose Criste. Credit: Nobertine Fathers' St. Michael Messenger.


Last Friday, 23-year-old Grant Desme, a minor league baseball player and top prospect for the Oakland A's, announced he was retiring from the sport to pursue the higher calling of the priesthood. According to the Norbertine Fathers' vocations director, Desme chose the order because of its religious life and its educational and liturgical orthodoxy.

The A's noted recruit plans to begin his seminary studies at St. Michael's Abbey in Silverado, Calif. this coming Fall. Speaking to CNA on Monday, Nobertine Fathers' Vocations Director Fr. Ambrose Criste said that he and the community are “just very grateful to God for blessing us with new vocations.”

Desme announced his decision to leave minor league baseball on Friday and told reporters in a news conference that he is “doing well in baseball,” however, “I had to get down to the bottom of things, to what was good in my life, what I wanted to do with my life. Baseball was a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more.”

“It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward Him … I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things.”

Desme was ranked as the Oakland A's eighth-best prospect by Baseball America after hitting a .288 batting average with 39 home runs and 89 RBI's. He was also just named MVP of the Arizona Fall League.

Desme told reporters in the news conference that he had been considering the call to the priesthood for some time, since in 2008, he dislocated his shoulder and spent time recuperating and thinking more deeply about his life goals.

“My injuries, I would say, would be the biggest blessing God's ever given me,” he said on Friday. “For my entire life, baseball's been my life. I define myself as a baseball player, and when it was taken away from me, it was an eye opener. God blessed me.

“I had a really strong feeling of a calling and a real strong desire to follow it, (but) I just fought it.”

Speaking to MLB.com, Desme added, "I want to give my life completely to God out of love because of everything He's done for me. Something like this is even very little compared to what He's done for me."

According to Fr. Criste, he first met the baseball player last Fall and Desme applied to the seminary just before Christmas of last year.

St. Michael's Abbey of the Norbertine Fathers is an autonomous seminary Orange County, Calif. When asked why Desme chose their monastic community, Fr. Criste said that Desme was attracted to “the religious life that we live here” as well as “the orthodoxy of both of our education and of our liturgical life.” 

“We're keeping very low key about this,” Fr. Criste added. “It's no different from our perspective whether he comes from professional baseball or whether he comes from a university or whether he comes from a simple working life, he's going to be living the same life as all of the other young men who come here.”

“He's really quite overwhelmed right now,” Fr. Criste said lightheartedly, and commented that Desme is “doing a very good job of navigating this media hype at the moment.”