But inside, a struggle was brewing. "At one point, I just thought to myself, 'I don't know if I want to be promoting Wheaties for the rest of my life.'" And he came to believe God was calling him into further service. In 1998, he took a job in Ann Arbor for Legatus, a Catholic organization that aims to promote faith among business leaders-but he still felt unfulfilled.
"I knew that even though I was doing some type of ministry now, God was calling me to something deeper," he recalls. In 2000, Canoy spent a year studying in Rome, but it proved too "distracting. It was the Great Jubilee Year [marking the third Christian millennium], a flurry of activity and celebration."
So he left Rome, and "in the middle of nowhere in Austria for thirty days," he began a process of spiritual exercises that "allowed me to get beyond myself and say yes to that calling." He made the final decision to become a priest during Lent in 2001. He returned to Michigan to earn a master's degree in divinity from Detroit's Sacred Heart Major Seminary and was ordained in 2005.
Fr. Chas enjoys telling parishioners that "running a parish is like running a small business," though the "profit" is "spiritual." The priest's warmth quickly puts everyone at ease, says congregant Kathie Baxter. "I've never heard anyone speak as if they didn't connect with Father Chas."
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