I suppose I should start at the beginning of my vocation story.
I grew up in a U.S. Navy family and moved around most of my life, from duty station to duty station. My parents are natives of Riverton, Wyoming. Actually, my family background is deeply routed in the history of this Beautiful state. My parents grew up across the railroad tracks from each other. They have known each other since first grade.
My Father's family originated in the Casper/Mills, WY and were railroading and ranching families. My mother's family was original homesteaders for Riverton. My grandma came by covered wagon from KS in 1907 to the original Holmberg Homestead.
Both my parents were raised as Catholics and attended St. Margaret's parish from early childhood. They were both were in the same First Communion classes and Confirmation classes together. Though they knew each other, they never started dating until the successful end of their senior year in high school .
After graduating from High school , my Father voluntarily joined the Navy in 1967. My Mom and Dad, high school sweethearts, maintained a long distance relationship, while my Mom moved to Laramie to begin college. She didn't finish, because my Mom and Dad got married during a leave in 1970.
Then like all faithful Navy wives, my Mom moved to my Father's next duty station in Italy. (Major culture shock I am sure!) After two years, they moved to Elsworth Maine, where I was born on August 6th on a Sunday and the Feast of the Transfiguration at 1:35 a.m. We lived in Maine, for most of my first two years of life. Then we moved to Iceland, where my brother Kevin, was born on December 26, 1974.
After a short duty station there, we moved to Puerto Rico, where I completed pre-school and Kindergarten. In 1978 we traveled by plane and spent most of the summer in Wyoming, which are my first memories of the state. Then we moved to Novato California. This is where I really first learned about our Catholic faith. We weren't a supper active family. Mostly just cultural Catholics, we always went to Mass on Easter Sunday and Christmas. During second grade, (1st communion time) we went much regularly.
Then near the end of fourth grade it was announced that we were moving yet again. This time we were to spend the whole summer in Wyoming, my Mom, brother, and I while Dad was in Florida at school. So this began my love affair with Wyoming.
We took turns staying with our different sets of Grandparents. My Mom's mother on the east side of the tracks, and my Dad's on the west side. I remember walking the short block back and forth. We also went to Mass every Sunday, except when we were up at the Cabin in the Big Horns. It was wonderful, and loved that little parish, where we truly felt like we were connected to deep roots.
That was a powerful summer for me too, because we had Wingert and Sostrom family reunions. Oh wow, to be a part of such big beautiful families. It just was a crucial connection for me to make. I found a longing in my heart to live in Wyoming my whole life.
During an extended visit to the Cabin near Dull Knife lake, I had a awe-inspiring experience behind the family cabin as Grandma was making dinner in the cabin. It was early evening and my brother and Grandpa were out on the lake. Therefore, I had quiet freedom running among the large rocks behind our little A-frame.
I remember seeing a golden eagle soaring in the sky. The clouds were making grand paintings in the sky. Furthermore, a chipmunk had sat in the palm of my hand to eat some trail mix from my pocket. At a particular moment of time, I found myself sitting in quiet reflection on the grander of creation around me. I heard a voice, the one who had created it all softly speak my name in a loving fatherly way. I was awe struck. There really was a God, my heart was flooded with a strong sense of love and joy. At only 10 years of age with very little religious education under my belt, I felt drawn to sing for the Lord.
Consequently, I sang what I knew, "The Hills are alive with the Sound of Music!" I found myself singing every Broadway song or child's song; I could genuinely remember. All I knew was that my heart was full, and I belonged to our Lord. It was the beginning of my vocation story, because I asked God if I could marry Him, and he chuckled and said yes! I didn't know what that meant, I just wanted Him so much.