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When it comes to defending one’s faith, the Rev. Alan Zobler chooses to lead by example.
The associate pastor of St. Clement Parish in Toledo shared with middle school students at St. Joseph School in Sylvania on Tuesday three stories demonstrating where faith was chosen over glory or riches. It was part of the Catholic school’s Positive Direction Program, in its 27th year, which is to help prepare children to uphold a life of faith after high school and beyond.
About 230 students were left hanging onto Father Zobler’s words, wondering what each person did, as he retold situations where a person was faced with a decisive moment in their life. He left them guessing about each person’s decision until the end of his dialogue.
The first story centered on a homeless man, Glen James, in Boston. He found a bag filled with $42,000 on a bench in a mall. The second example was about the Fowler family, who learned their daughter decided not to get married and was left with a large bill for a 200-person reception in a premier venue in Atlanta. The third story was about a minor league baseball player, Grant Desme, who was given a chance gto play for the Oakland Athletics, a major league baseball team.
The homeless man who found money turned it into authorities. Father Zobler said the man told reporters about this decision: “I’ve been blessed by God in so many ways that I don’t need anything.” In turn, many found the man to be a hero and raised more than $200,000 for him.
In the second story, the family turned a called-off wedding into a feast for 200 homeless people and children. And in the third story, the baseball player found more glory in talking to his teammates about God than hitting home runs, so he declined the contract and instead entered the seminary.
“Look at the consequences. Look at the repercussions for their decisions,” Father Zobler told the students. The Catholic priest invited them to have a faith life as a teenager.
The Positive Direction Program, whose theme this year is "Lead by Example, Live by Faith," will have such events throughout the year.
“About 80 percent of kids who go on to college question their faith and are challenged by many,” Deb Unverferth, chairperson for the program, said.
The students laughed and participated in Father Zobler’s talk. Afterward, some students gathered around him for pictures.
Seventh grader Megan Sherman, 12, said she liked the baseball story, because it was “surprising.”
Cooper Sadowski, 13, an eighth grader, said his storytelling was a unique way of showing how people put God first and received a great dividend that lead to happiness.