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An exploration of faith

Krystle Wagner • Apr 8, 2017 at 8:00 AM

After growing up in Long Island, New York, Michael Goodwin’s exploration into his faith brought him to West Michigan.

Goodwin, 34, is becoming a familiar face around St. Mary’s Catholic Church since arriving at the Spring Lake church as a seminarian intern. Although he is in his second year of theology and preparing to become a Catholic priest, Goodwin says his faith has changed since his childhood.

After attending public school, he enrolled in Cedarville University, a Christian college in Ohio, because he wanted to grow in his faith in a place that would support it.

“College, for me, was the start of it,” he said.

While at college, Goodwin said he learned about the differences in religions and the complexity of Christianity. Growing up attending an evangelical church, Goodwin said college opened his eyes to early Christian leaders.

When some of Goodwin’s friends entered the military toward the end of college, Goodwin said he felt drawn to serve his country in a pastoral capacity. He joined the U.S. Army Reserves and attended an evangelical seminary in Grand Rapids.

In his last year of training, Goodwin was invited to attend his first Catholic Mass. He said Mass was unlike other services he had been to.

Instead of the pastor choosing what to teach and focus on, Goodwin said Catholic priests are required to follow the same teachings.

After attending his second Mass at a different church, Goodwin said he had more questions about Catholicism.

“My life was upside down,” he said.

After returning to Grand Rapids, Goodwin informed his family and friends that he was considering entering the Catholic Church. Given that he was training to become an evangelical Army chaplain, Goodwin had to first get an honorable discharge from the service.

Although the change was initially difficult for Goodwin’s family, he said their relationship is better now and his family has reached a place of acceptance.

Goodwin entered the Catholic faith six years ago during the Easter Vigil Mass at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Grand Rapids. In the fall of 2013, he entered a Catholic seminary.

While at St. Mary’s, Goodwin has been part of baptisms, speaking with residents who are nearing the end of their lives, and classes. He is currently overseeing the “Divine Mercy” events at St. Mary’s.

The community is invited to attend showings of the “Divine Mercy” film at 7 p.m. April 21-22 at the church, 406 E. Savidge St., Spring Lake. There will be prayers after the movie.

Goodwin said he is open to speaking to community members who have questions about faith or Catholicism.

“I’m happy to talk to everyone,” he said.

You may contact Goodwin by email at mgood1@gmail.com.

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