Posted April 11, 2006
Men let cameras in on their
vocation discernment for cable TV series
By Mark Pattison
Catholic News Service
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Steve Horvath, Joe Adair, Dan DeMatte and Mike Lechniak
have something in common: Like many young Catholic men, they've wondered
whether they are called to a life in the priesthood.
Unlike the vast majority of their compatriots, however, they consented to
have their discernment process captured on camera for a cable television
series, "God or the Girl," to debut on Easter, April 16, on A&E.
The five episodes of the series cover their lives over several weeks as they
deal with current, past and potentially future girlfriends as well as
influences from priests, peers and family. They are bound by the producers
not to reveal their decision until the final episode airs.
"It was a lot of fun" being on the show, Lechniak told Catholic News
Service, yet "it was annoying and stressful."
At the same time, "it was something I wouldn't change. I enjoyed having it
(the camera) there," he said, although "having your life put on film" and
living "behind or in front of the camera, it's very, very hard to deal
He said he asked himself, "How much do I want to let them into my life?" and
even before the camera got to him, he "prayed about that a lot."
"I talked to my parents and some friends. My parents were very influential.
They said, 'Michael, be yourself. Don't be a fake. Be yourself and get your
message across. ... If Jesus were in the same position, he'd be himself.'"
DeMatte, 21, concurred that being filmed "was an inconvenience to your
schedule a lot of times . . . because you had to fit everything in, and all
that stuff." The fellow students with whom he lived from Ohio Dominican
University and Ohio State University, both in Columbus, "were really cool"
and "patient with it all." But it was hard, he said.
Series co-creator and executive producer Darryl Silver, a veteran TV
producer, said, "At first people are very self-aware of the camera, after
it's there all day every day. You can only be false in front of a camera for
so long. He (DeMatte) really wanted to use the show as a pulpit, but what he
found out was he was really going through an experience. You still have to
live your life."
DeMatte, who had declared a six-month break from his girlfriend even before
filming started, said he is comfortable with his decision, which will be
revealed in the final episode.
"Since the filming ended, I've found a great amount of peace," he said.
"Every single day Our Lord affirms us and brings us more and more peace, and
that's something that's beautiful. I think that I'm doing God's will. With
being obedient to the Lord comes peace. I have not looked back, no, and I
have not turned into a pillar of salt."
Horvath had quit his job and broken up with his fiancee before the series
started. He joined the Fellowship of Catholic University Students and became
a "student missionary," moving from his home in Fairfax, Va., to Lincoln,
After he completed seventh grade in a Catholic school, Horvath's parents
agreed to his request to transfer to a public school. "Looking back on
probably most of my growing up, I viewed the faith through more of a
legalist lens -- the church says that I have to do it, so I'm going to do
it," Horvath said.
Later, he said, he had what he called "an attitude shift."
"I had some God experiences where I said, 'Wow.' I didn't have anyone else
to turn to but God. There were times when I embraced my faith and made it my
own," Horvath said. "Now I embrace the church, not as some arm that's trying
to control my life, but allowing me to live the life I've been created to
Adair had the closest brushes with ordination of the four. He graduated from
his college seminary, spent a year in Philadelphia in the Capuchin
novitiate, and, later, two years in the Jesuit novitiate in suburban
Detroit. In between, he worked with merchant seafarers for the Archdiocese
He went with his brother last year to Germany for World Youth Day, but also
to meet a German woman he had met in Cleveland to see if there were any
romantic stirrings. He later went on a pilgrimage from Cleveland to Niagara
Falls, Ontario, to help discern his vocation.
After all that, does he feel at peace with his decision? Though he had to
keep mum about it, Adair said the answer was yes.
"I made that decision . . . with everything I knew about myself at that time,"
he said. "Is that decision permanent? Is it binding in some way? No.
Meaning, did I take vows? No. I'm not a married person. I'm not a priest.
. . . Could it change? Possibly. But I needed it to give myself freedom from
all that angst."