DVIDS – News – From the fraternity house to God’s house
Everyone can relate to having a past, even chaplains. U.S. Navy Lt. Jacob Meyer, a chaplain, lived the life of a normal college student in a fraternity, gaining experiences and a more diverse outlook on life before devoting his life to the Catholic priesthood.
Meyer grew up in South Bend, Indiana, and attended college at Ball State University where he majored in human resource management and organizational culture. After realizing he wanted to branch out and diversify his friend group during his sophomore year, Meyer decided to join a fraternity on campus, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon.
“I definitely lived the frat boy life,” said Meyer. “I was a bartender and a bouncer, and I had a great time. I loved my life and I was a sweetheart for a sorority, the Chi Omegas.”
Meyer explains that a sweetheart for a sorority is a fraternity brother voted, “to be like a big brother to all of the sisters.” He took a protective role over the girls and would attend all of their events, plan their parties and help them with anything they needed.
“For example, there were a couple [sorority sisters] that got into trouble at a party and they were having a problem, and I just rolled in to intervene. They called me and I grabbed some of my brothers and we were like, ‘We will fix the problem.’”
Meyer says that being a sweetheart for a sorority enlightened him to the needs and behaviors of the opposite sex. He enjoyed his time in his fraternity, growing friendships, and gaining a different perspective on life working with both men and women. Something that pursuing priesthood right away may not have offered him.
“Everyone even in the fraternity called me ‘chaps,’” said Meyer. “If you wanted to talk about God or religion or whatever, go talk to Jacob. At 1 or 2 a.m., when the party is ramping up or when somebody has had a little too much to drink, what do they end up talking about? They end up talking about God or truth in general and my room was the one place that they came to to talk about that.”
Despite not having a typical background for a priest, with the support of his family and fraternity brothers, Meyer finished his degree and joined the seminary to receive priesthood education to continue to further his ability to be a resource for others.
As Meyer progressed though his priesthood, he saw many similarities between his time helping others in the fraternity house and the parishioners of his church. Through those similarities, Meyer was able to show others that priests are regular people with similar interests to their own.
“A lot of people have certain expectations of Christian ministers and Catholic priests,” said Meyer. “You’re supposed to act in a certain way and I don’t like to be placed in a box and I am definitely not someone who is afraid to get dirty, and to just get into the messiness of life with people. So, I don’t hold myself above that which means, you know, I also like the karaoke bar, just like anyone else does.”
Like some of the Sailors he now works with, Meyer never planned on pursuing the military to accomplish his goals.
“I didn’t know what the military chaplaincy was. I didn’t know it was a thing, so the military was a complete mystery to me in a sense,” he explained. “… Because I was overweight, the military was always just something that was foreign to me. That’s just not even a possibility for me. I just knew that I was not a soldier, I was not a Sailor, I was not a Marine, I’m not anything. So, because that was not a possibility for me physically, I never really thought about it.”
That all changed after Meyer received two important phone calls. One with his brother, already a Sailor, who was deployed at the time and expressed how important it was to have a priest attached to every U.S. Navy warship, though many ships were not able to have one due to a lack of priests in the Navy. The second call was from his doctor stating it was vital that he start his weight loss journey.
As Meyer worked on his weight loss and continued to hear about his brother’s life in the Navy, the military became less and less of a foreign concept and it was no longer out of reach physically. Then, the bishop of his church offered Meyer an opportunity that would change his course in life.
“The bishop said, ‘we need help and we had three guys that were thinking of going into the military that backed out from our area, from our diocese,’” said Meyer. “I said, ‘Okay, well I can do it. I’ll volunteer.’”
He answered the call he never thought possible and joined the Navy as a Chaplain and was assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).
While not on the path he originally envisioned for himself, Meyer’s life experiences throughout college, throughout his time in Sigma Alpha Epsilon and throughout his unplanned journey into the Navy not only allows him to relate to a larger crowd of people, it allows him to highlight that chaplains are, “not just this holier than thou group.”
“I think what a chaplain often does is help people in the aftermath of a momentary action, to help them see themselves as more than that action,” said Meyer. “So, I really like that. I like to help people see who they are from other peoples’ perspectives because I feel like sometimes our worst enemy is ourselves. We are too judgmental of ourselves.”
|Date Posted:||02.25.2023 03:47|
|Hometown:||SOUTH BEND, IN, US|
This work, From the fraternity house to God’s house, by PO3 Charlotte Dudenhoeffer, identified by DVIDS, must comply with the restrictions shown on https://www.dvidshub.net/about/copyright.
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