About the Salesians / Eric Notarus
My name is Eric Notarus. I am from right outside the city of Chicago. When I was still a young lad my mother and father got divorced, which was cool since I started receiving double the presents for Christmas and birthdays. Like most secular American families we only went to church on Easter. I was baptized and confirmed, by the grace of God, but we stopped going to mass soon after. As I got older and started becoming a man I naturally wanted to live with my father. I finally was able to move in with him when I was in seventh grade. Since my father never did anything remotely religious neither did I. Soon I was one of the worst hooligans in town. If I wasn’t supposed to do it, I did it.
In an act to change my ways I decided to join the military. I served my country for about three years before I returned to my heathen roots. Around my third year in the service my favorite uncle died later that year I was deployed to Kuwait when one of my grandfathers died. Getting back from deployment I developed what some people call a drinking problem, though at the time the only drinking problem that I thought I had was when I was out of whiskey. After my other grandfather died I could no longer sleep at night if I was sober, but like they say it is always darkest before the light. The Lord shed his mercy upon me one night and he completely changed my life. He showed me the error of my ways and he brought me to truly repent for all of my sinful ways. With a 500 word limit on this essay all I can say is within a five hour period the lord brought me to Mass, and made me quit smoking and drinking.
I was redeployed to Indonesia after the earthquake and tsunami decimated Western Indonesia. The lord put two great Catholics in my unit and we became close friends during this deployment. Despite being confirmed I knew nothing of the faith but these two people began to instruct me in the teachings of the faith. To illustrate how lost I was “What’s a nun?” is an actual question that I asked one of my friends, who still likes to remind me of this from time to time. As I grew in my faith I eventually started going to daily mass, and this is where I first heard the call to religious life. I remember sitting in mass and the idea of becoming a priest just entered my mind and I couldn’t get rid of it. After a while I just accepted that I was being called to something more. I tried to become a priest in my diocese, but just before I was about to turn in my papers to start the process I realized, thanks be to god, that I never discerned what type of priest I should be. Finding the Salesians online I felt a connection and after a few hurdles I entered formation. Upon entering formation I learned about the vocation of the Salesian brother. I felt drawn to this vocation and to the great Salesian brothers that I met here. I never knew that there was a vocation that allowed me to serve God in an ordinary way, but still allowed me to formally consecrate myself forever to our Lord Jesus Christ. I am happily on the way to becoming a Salesian brother.
Questions with Eric Notarus
1. Name: Eric Notarus
2. Hometown and State: Franklin Park, IL
3. Current Age: 29
4. Age of first thought of religious life or priesthood: 24
5. How and Where did you first meet/hear about the Salesians? Internet and then I went on a discernment retreat in Chicago, IL
6. Who is St. John Bosco for you? A great saint, who had an immense compassion for the youth, is a father, and an idol.
7. Why do you want to be (become) a Salesian priest? I feel this is where God is calling me to be, also I love the community here.
8. Why do you want to be a Salesian priest/brother and not a diocesan priest or religious of another order? I feel this is where God is calling me to be, also I love the community here.
9. One helpful thing from parents/family/friends in your discernment? The encouragement that I received from my friends and my family.
10. One obstacle/challenge in your discernment. What advice would you give to somebody who might be facing the same obstacle or challenge? I dropped out of high school. If God is calling you to do something He will give you the tools to accomplish it.
11. What is the best thing about being a Salesian for you? The community.
12. How is being a Salesian or a Salesian seminarian help you in your relationship with God? I have learned more about myself and this makes it easier to grow toward Christ.
13. How has your time in the Salesian formation program helped you grow as a human being? I have become more aware of my negative traits, and at the same time I have been given the resources to turn away from the bad and grow toward to good.
14. What are some of the gifts/talents that God has given you and you have been able to use in your ministry with young people? I am able to use my sense of humor and my love of sports to reach out to the youth.
15. Since you entered the Salesian formation program, if there are some challenges, difficulties, doubts, etc, how would you deal with them? I just try to place myself in the presence of Christ and remember that this is where He has placed me and that the struggles are helping me grow into the person that He wants me to be.