This Sunday, a Catholic priest will embark on a 320-mile, 5-day bike ride to recruit young men and women for the Church.
Father Nick Adam had to be creative when he was assigned to be the director of vocations for the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, in the midst of a global pandemic.
“How do I reach people? How do I reach people?” Fr. Adam recalled repeatedly asking himself while the shelter-in-place order was in effect.
Since he had evenings free, he began riding his bike on the Natchez Trace Parkway. He soon realized that the parkway, which connects the entirety of his diocese, could be the perfect solution.
“It checks a lot of boxes. It allows me to connect with a wide variety of people (and) allows me to have a presence on Facebook and Instagram,” Adam told CNA. He is planning to document his trip on social media, allowing anyone to follow along with his journey.
As a former sports and news anchor, Adam has a gift for communication.
“Media and connecting with people in creative ways has always been part of my call,” he said. “I need to embrace those gifts for communication that [God] gave me.”
The priest admitted that bike riding does not come as naturally to him.
“People have looked at me like I’m crazy sometimes, especially because I’m not in the best shape of my life, but I have been training,” he said.
Still, Adam says that the fact that the ride will be a challenge is integral to his mission.
“Just completing something like this shows people that they can strive for something great,” he said. “That’s the Catholic idea, that’s the Catholic project, to bring about the kingdom of God. And it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be challenging, and you’re going to want to quit, but with the Lord’s help, you are not going to quit.”
Adam said the trip is also an important remedy for misconceptions that many young people have about the priesthood.
“It shows people that priests are normal people that do normal things and that are capable of physical exertion,” he said.
Digging around, I found this profile of the anchorman from three years ago:
Nick Adam grew up dreaming of making it big as a television sportscaster.
A native of the coastal Alabama town of Elberta and a graduate of the University of Alabama, Adam was hired out of college at WTOK-TV in Meridian almost a decade ago. He began as a weekend sports anchor and reporter. Over time he transitioned into news, anchoring the late newscast five nights a week.
He loved his job, but something was missing.
“As the years went by, I continued to be happy in my work. I met so many wonderful people in TV,” Adam said. “But I began to wonder if that was all there was. I began to think, ‘What makes us happy?’ That’s when I started considering returning to church. I had stopped attending Mass in college because I thought I knew everything, as college kids tend to think.”
A recently ordained Roman Catholic deacon, Adam is studying theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and will be ordained as a priest in spring 2018.
“I went to Mass at St. Patrick (Catholic Church) for the first time in about a year and a half after moving to Meridian,” Adam said. “I remember the feeling that I had while sitting in the pew. It was like returning home after a long trip. I just felt peace and contentment, and from that point forward I think the seed was planted for the priesthood.
“It was on that day that I began to believe that the love of God is real, and I wanted to be in a position to share that love with others. That really became solidified in me once I started speaking with the pastor at the time, Father Frank Cosgrove. He gave me a wonderful example of priesthood and always encouraged me to be open to the call.”
“I wasn’t surprised when Nick told me he was looking at going into the priesthood,” said John Johnson, Adam’s news director at WTOK. “He was an evenhanded, levelheaded guy who volunteered with Habitat, who was true to his word in how he approached people and got things done.
“He was a knowledgeable person who understood issues we were dealing with at the time and is worldly in his concerns for what goes on in the community. He is the perfect person to go into the ministry.”