Deacon Kevin Leaver Pilot photo
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This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling each of the eight men who will be ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley on May 20.
Sometimes tragedy can shape a person's faith.
This is the case with Deacon Kevin Leaver. Raised in Stoughton, the oldest of three children, Deacon Leaver never fully believed in the existence of God. He was raised Catholic, attended religious education classes, received his sacraments, but he wasn't fully convinced -- until tragedy struck.
"The summer of 1998, as I was entering 8th grade, my father had a massive heart attack. At the time, I did not believe in God, or so I claimed not to believe in God," he explained. However, as his mother rushed his father to the hospital, Deacon Leaver's first instinct was to pray for his father.
"Immediately I felt this sense of peace and calmness," he recalled. His father survived the heart attack, and the subsequent heart surgery, but that experience of prayer and peace remained with him.
One year later, his parish, Immaculate Conception in Stoughton, launched the Life Teen program. Although at first Deacon Leaver attended the parish's Life Teen Mass, he wasn't a regular in the program.
The following year, however, a friend "challenged" him to participate in Life Teen, he said. After seven months of insistence, Deacon Leaver finally gave in.
It changed his entire perspective on faith, Catholicism and God.