Small world… small connections…

I think most of you have read by now the story about the young man who is a hot baseball prospect, with the A’s, Grant Desme, who has chosen to verify a vocation to the priesthood at St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, CA.

I had this note from a priest friend and sometime poster here at WDTPRS who knows him:

What you may not know is that the young man, Grant Desme, is from the Latin Mass community of San Clemente in Bakersfield.  What you also may not know is that he served Latin Mass for you and for me (he would have been 7th-8th grade when you were in Bakersfield, and was a high schooler during my time there).


God bless him!

Brick by brick.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Ferde Rombola says:

    What worries me about his vocation is he says he’s entering a seminary in Southern California. Not a good start. [Let’s stow that negative stuff right away. Moreover, St. Michael’s is a good place with a good reputation.]

  2. bookworm says:

    “Not a good start.”

    On the contrary, with Cardinal Mahony clearly on his way out (see previous posts) and some of the more heterodox professors of his seminary likely on the way out with him, this may actually be a very good move.

  3. Central Valley says:

    St. Micheal’s is a heavenly place. With Cardinal Mahoney on the way out, I pray the Norbertines are used more in southern California. They are “too” Catholic for most California bishops. They are a great order and traditional catholics are very comfortable with them.
    As for Grant Desme. He is a good man from a good family. Many vocations begin in the family.Grant is blessed with a wonderful catholic family, but he was also blessed by being able to serve several wonderful priests like Msgr. Ralph Belluomini, Fr. Angel Sotelo and yes, even Fr. Z. Grant always speaks highly of these holy priests as do do all of the traditional community in Bakersfield. The Church, the Norbertines and the faithful are blessed with this vocation. Pray for Grant.

  4. gloriainexcelsis says:

    The Norbertines at St. Michael’s Abbey are beyond reproach, great teachers and at the heart of Tradition – always. That’s why their numbers have increased so that they have outgrown their long-time home in the secluded canyon behind the Mission Viejo/Lake Forest area of Orange County. God bless this young man. He chose well.

  5. Mike Morrow says:

    A person of such honor and integrity would be a great asset as a chaplin in the U.S. military.

    In any event, Grant deserves our admiration.

  6. Henry Edwards says:

    God bless this young man. He chose well.

    Indeed he did. Might not be a better seminary anywhere for a young man giving up millions for his vocation.

    It never ceases to amaze me that some — like the initial poster in this thread — will write a comment with zero knowledge of the matter at hand. Actually, in this internet age with information so readily at hand, such total ignorance is both inexplicable and ineffable.

    In the present case, anyone who googles St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange, CA immediate finds the Abbey’s excellent home page, which makes the picture clear. Wonderful!

  7. Paulus Magnus says:

    St. Michael’s Abbey is a great place, I can personally attest to that. Orthodox priests that assist at nearby parishes, a beautiful Latin Novus Ordo Mass, they always go around in habit, and a large number of seminarians. The entire diocese only has about twice as many seminarians as the abbey I believe.

  8. ckdexterhaven says:

    Love the line in the article: “he’s going from playing against the Padres and the Cardinals to praying with padres and Cardinals” LOL :)

    Good for him. He’ll be an inspiration and someone young boys can look up to.

  9. Fr_Sotelo says:

    CentralValley, Gloria, Henry, and Paulus:

    Grant Desme comes from a family that has always attended the EF Latin Mass in Bakersfield, CA. They respect the validity of the OF Mass but their heart is with all things traditional, so it would not be in Grant’s heart to go to a liberal seminary.

    Thanks for letting folks know about St. Michael’s Abbey, and the gem and refuge it is for traditional Catholics. When I thought of Fr. Z’s thread of the place of vernacular vs. Latin in the Mass, I thought of how beautifully St. Michael’s brings the two together and with such reverence and beauty. They should make DVD’s of their Masses.

    When people read of Orange County, they might think of diocesan seminary formation, but not to worry. St. Michael’s was founded by Hungarian Norbertines who fled the repression of the Communists back in the 50’s. They were not then, nor are they right now, eager for anything liberal or goofy.

    The traditional faith is taught at their prep school, their liturgies are filled with Latin and gregorian chant, they are always in the traditional habit of their order (Order of Praemonstratensians, founded by St. Norbert in the valley of Premontre, France), and they are highly trained canons dedicated to the liturgical prayer of the Church properly celebrated.

    Grant will be in good hands under their spiritual guidance. He just needs a lot of support and prayer from the traditional Catholic community because some of the comments out there are ugly and unsupportive of his decision. Praise God for Grant’s courage in making this decision.

  10. Athelstan says:

    “Grant will be in good hands under their spiritual guidance. He just needs a lot of support and prayer from the traditional Catholic community because some of the comments out there are ugly and unsupportive of his decision. Praise God for Grant’s courage in making this decision.”


  11. momravet says:

    The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem are also in residence at Saint Michael’s Abbey.

  12. TJerome says:

    What heart-warming news. I sometimes wonder how many vocations were lost because we jettisoned the Latin Liturgy in the 1960s. Although not perhaps true with all vocations, the old Liturgy had an allure that the new one (as it’s routinely celebrated) does not. Father Z, you must be very pleased to have played a role in this young man’s life. Tom

  13. MargaretHC says:

    The Norbertines are AWESOME!!! They are a breath of fresh, pure air in Southern CA. Their faithfulness is inspiring. I can’t tell you how wonderful they are. The fathers celebrate Mass with beauty, love and reverence, EF or OF. They help preach at parishes in their diocese, which is very welcome in that land of liturgical silliness and watered down teaching. Their homilies will knock your socks off – really – I’ve heard people say they had to restrain themselves from getting up to cheer AMEN! when the homily was over. If you have funds to spare, their Abbey is geologically unstable and they are rebuilding in another location fairly close to their present one. The design is beautiful – no cement bunker bauhaus stuff. It would be a worthy cause to donate to. The Norbertines also have CDs you can buy of their ethereal chant. This young baseball player will be in a very orthodox and blessed place. No worries, folks.

  14. Melody says:

    I truly believe that the faith might have been lost in many parishes without the Norbertines, who assist at many parishes around here. While the diocese is suffering a priest shortage, the abbey is thriving with vocations. They say all the Latin masses in this part of California and are indeed almost beyond reproach.

    I commented to my friend about this, who remarked “Either way he had a career with the Angels.”

  15. Norah says:

    I hope that the media both Catholic and secular will leave this young man to his seminary studies. He may decide that the priesthood is not for him or he may proceed to ordination God willing. Let’s not make him a poster boy for any of our favourite causes. Sometimes bad things can happen when a goodlooking priest/seminarian is put in the world’s spotlight rather than Gods.

  16. Penguins Fan says:

    Norah, the sad situation of Albert Cutie emphasizes your point.

    I read a few of the reader comments in the Yahoo story. The anti-Catholic bigotry made me angry enough to want to smack those people with my ax handle. Not very Christianlike on my part.

  17. EXCHIEF says:

    This young man is the subject of a lot of “bad mouthing” by some sportswriters and on some secular blogs. Fortunately some good people are rising to his defense and pointing out the triumph of morality over money. I have searched and searched for an e-mail address for Grant to send him a note of prayer and encouragement but have been unsuccessful in locating one. Perhaps someone on here with better internet search capability than I have can locate a good address for him and post it here. It would be a really good thing for hundreds of WDTPRS posters to e-mail him with good comments.

  18. Central Valley says:


    Start here.

    St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church

    900 H Street – Bakersfield, CA – 93304

    Ph: (661) 327-4734 – Fax: (661) 327-4930

  19. Ferde Rombola says:

    To Mr. Henry Edwards, the initial poster on this thread lived for 20 years in Southern California under Mahony in LA and next door to Brown in Orange County. Perhaps you can forgive his being a little jaded about that part of the country. Saying he has no knowledge of the matter at hand is not correct. And, if a snappy website is all it takes, we have lots of excellent seminaries in the USA.

    That said, I’m happy to stand corrected about this, especially by those who can speak for the Norbertines and their stand against the tide in Southern California. It is welcome news to me and a blessing for the Church.

  20. EXCHIEF says:

    Central Valley
    Thanks..if nothing else I’ll send him a note via St Francis of Assisi RCC in Bakersfield. Some might find it interesting that my best friend and next door neighbor is a retired Oakland A’s All Star from the 3 world series years in the early 70’s. He is also Catholic. He thinks Grant made an excellent decision.

  21. amsjj1002 says:

    When I heard he was entering a So. Cal seminary, I got scared! It’s been my home all my life, and sadly, I’ve learned to get surprised when a place and its staff actually *are* faithful. Thank you so much for relieving my mind — best prayers for all the seminarians! :-)

  22. Fr_Sotelo says:


    Don’t let the comments of secularists on worldly blogs get you down. Those comments reveal the sickness of the posters and show how cynical and bitter they are. They are so gobsmacked and dizzy because they wonder, “Is this for real? Are there actually men out there with such character and goodness?”

    If they met Grant in person, they would know in a second that he is the real thing. He has that kind of generosity and moral fiber that makes people say, “if any guy should be a priest, that guy should be a priest–because God deserves the very best.”

    I am sure that Grant will see your comments soon if he has not already. The outpouring of love, prayers, and support from the traditional Catholic community is taken very much to heart by Grant and his parents and means everything to them, because they love Tradition, the one and only True Faith, the Faith of our Fathers. It is your outlook which they share. It is this kind of Faith which truly grasps the beauty of this courageous decision to study for the priesthood. So I hope the nice comments for Grant keep coming.

  23. EXCHIEF says:

    Thanks Fr Sotelo. Oh I’m not letting the secularist comments get me down. Just wanting to be supportive of Grant as I’m sure most who post on here do. God Bless

  24. Keven Smith says:

    This story keeps getting better and better. When I first heard Desme was retiring, I felt kicked in the stomach. I’m a huge Oakland A’s fan and we need more power hitters.

    Initial reports merely said he was headed “to the ministry.” Hmmm. Then I heard “Catholic priesthood.” Good! Then I heard “Norbertines.” Even better! And now I find out he’s a former Latin Mass altar boy? My head is going to explode. I had always wondered if there were any “trads” in professional sports; now I know.

    It can’t have been easy for Desme to keep his faith while traveling through minor league towns, constantly having to hunt down a church on Sunday and resist the many carnal temptations ballplayers face. But he did it…and how!

    Yes, many of the reactions from fans online have been vicious, and nothing short of bigoted against anyone who believes in God. (Does it “count” if you paste a green scapular onto a web page?)

    In closing, I’m beginning to think Fr. Sotelo is personally acquainted with everyone who has ever celebrated or attended a Latin Mass in the state of California since 1988. :-)

  25. Supertradmom says:

    I hope he says a few Masses when ordained for those baseball players who used steroids and caused scandal for many young people.

  26. Melody says:

    LOL, is Father Sotelo a Norbertine?

  27. Fr_Sotelo says:

    No Melody, I am a diocesan priest, since 1991, like Fr. Z. When the faithful ask which order I belong to, I sometimes quip that I am a member of the “OJC’s.” Of course they say, “I’ve never heard of them.”

    To which I say, “it means the order of Jesus Christ, which is the diocesan priesthood, which is what existed before anyone ever saw a religious order come into existence.” Of course, the religious order priests also joke that another name for diocesan priests is “seculars” meaning worldly, and they joke that God had to bring the religious orders into existence so that there would be homilies about other things besides fund raising and golf. LOL.

  28. mfg says:

    Grant’s made a great choice. I knew Father Parker when he first arrived in Los Angeles after digging under a wire fence in the middle of the night in 1956 to escape the Communists. My two boys went to his summer camp when he was getting started in the 60’s and 70’s. His seminarians were the camp directors. The Norbertines say the Latin Mass at Mission San Juan Capistrano, and used to say it at Holy Cross Mausoleum in San Diego until we acquired our own parish under the FSSP. Good fortune and many prayers for Grant. I pray he turns out as well as Father John C and Father Victor Z, O Praem

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