Father Peter Julia, the vocations director for the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., has an unconventional vocation story.

After a painful divorce, he became a priest.

During World Youth Day 2023, Father Julia spoke with EWTN News about how he discovered his vocation to the priesthood.

“I thought, just like a lot of young boys my age, that I was called to marriage. And in fact, I even got married, which is a huge shocker for Father Peter when people hear that,” he noted.

“I was married for three years and then I got a divorce. It's something a lot of people experience, whether they were the child of divorce or they divorced themselves,” he added.

"Amazingly, God is the only one who could create something great and good out of a difficult situation. That's exactly what he did with me."

Father Julia indicated that he began a marriage annulment process, where he met Father George Wolf, a priest of the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, who helped him strengthen his relationship with God.

“He started to take me under his wing a little bit. I went to daily Masses all the time. Then, through that annulment process, eventually, I was around the church so much that he said, 'Will you join the pastoral council?' So I joined,” he highlighted.

The priest explained that his time on the pastoral council led him to do more for the church.

Finally, around the age of 30, he really began to question giving his life to God.

“I was like, maybe I was off track and I was supposed to do something different all along,” he added.

Father Julia pointed out that he was dedicated to outdoor sports, such as rock climbing, where he trained competitive climbing teams, but left everything because he knew that God was calling him to be a priest.

He finally entered the seminary in 2012 and Archbishop Alexander Sample sent him to Rome for further studies, where he earned two degrees.

A Message for the Young

“If you don’t know where you’re going, who are you by definition? You’re lost,” the priest said.

“I think the world doesn’t know where they’re headed. I don’t think they know their destination is to be with God in heaven. But if you know that, everything you do from this moment until that moment is actually oriented toward where you want to go.”

“The world is half-starved and the world is lost,” he lamented. “So no wonder the world is where it is today! But if we’re fed by the Lord and if we know where we’re going, that’s really all we need. He’ll take care of the rest.”

Watch Father Julia's interview below:

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