It was a Confirmation retreat exercise. One in which Tim Mouton, a junior in high school in his hometown of Houston, Texas, was steered through a path that stunningly for him, led to the darkness of hell.
“While on the retreat, I was really getting into it,” newly-ordained Holy Cross Father Timothy Mouton told The Anchor. “I knew God, but I was getting to know Him better. It was on a night exercise where in the dark Texas night in the country, someone with a flashlight shining on their face would ask us a question, then point each of us in the direction we were to go next.” The questions ranged from “Why are you here?” to “Whom do you serve?”
“I was eventually lead to someone on a podium with extremely bright lights all around him,” Father Mouton continued. “I was being judged and was directed to another room. I entered it and it was complete darkness. I was sent to hell.
“Then we were all brought to Eucharistic Adoration and for the first time in my life, it made sense to me — that Jesus was in the Eucharist.
“I came off the weekend with a ‘retreat high.’ God became a bigger part of my life. I relied on my faith.’”
Father Mouton is still living that “retreat high,” having completed his formation and training with the Congregation of Holy Cross and was ordained a priest of that order at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the campus of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. — right in the middle of Pope Francis’ declared Year of Consecrated Life.
The road from Houston didn’t end in South Bend for Father Mouton. Instead, it brought him to the picturesque, peaceful campus of Stonehill College in Easton.
Prior to his priestly ordination, Father Tim had come to Easton as part of his diaconate assignment, where he worked with the good folks at My Brother’s Keeper, bordering the Stonehill campus. Then-Deacon Tim learned more about the college. “The people and volunteers at My Brothers Keeper were incredible people, and I loved the Stonehill environment,” he said. “I love it out here.”
Father Tim told The Anchor that his heart was set on becoming a parish priest, but his Easton experiences changed all that.
“I saw the community at My Brothers Keeper and I saw the students, and not being that much older than they, I could relate to what they were going through in this phase of their lives. I saw myself in campus ministry here.”
The Holy Cross community saw that as well, and after his ordination in April, he was returned to the Easton campus where he serves as athletic chaplain, assistant coach on the Skylark’s baseball team, and a campus minister.
“I live in the dorms and I can interact with the students on their level,” Father Tim toldThe Anchor. “It’s cool to be here and to be a witness to the faith to them.”
Father Tim said that it’s important for a priest to be able to be seen as a human being. “Just before entering college, I felt a calling from God to become a priest,” he said. “My uncle was a Holy Cross Father and he invited me to visit Notre Dame’s seminary program before my freshman year.
“Aside from a kid from Texas being in South Bend, Ind. in January, it was a great visit. I saw there young men just like myself. Normal people who were learning about themselves and about their relationship with God. I didn’t see ‘pious nerds’ like we thought seminarians were when we were in high school.”
Father Tim did make the decision to attend seminary at Notre Dame. “In my freshman year, I found such a peaceful life,” he added. “I learned a ton. It changed the culture of who I was. My faith grew, as did my relationship with God. I learned a lot about myself.
“I also learned that seminaries are for good men, not good priests. Some of the guys who were in seminary with me left for various reasons. I had one good friend who recently contacted me and told me that his seminary formation made him a better husband and father. What you learn and experience in seminary makes you a better anything.”
If it weren’t for the priestly garb he wears on campus, one would never know he’s not a student. In a biography of Father Tim on the Stonehill website it states, “Being in his 20s, he has the obvious connections of being in the same generation as the college students he serves. He wants to inspire them, but they also inspire him.”
“Every day I see something that encourages me that these students are going to make the world a better place,” Father Tim wrote on the website. “The potential of these young people to be good, loving people is tremendous. It’s incredibly humbling to be able to see people who are so passionate about what they love, to see them working hard to turn those passions into realities.”
Father Tim hopes to share his Spirituality and witness to the Lord to athletes, students, coaches and faculty in the little things.
“I think there are a lot of vocations here on campus, and I want to make vocations awareness available to the students,” he said. “I want God to be the heart of the college.”
Father Tim’s impact on the college is already quite strong. A contingent of students made the trek out to Notre Dame to attend his ordination. “They were as excited as I was,” he told The Anchor. “They loved being there and it was cool to have them there. It meant a lot to me, and they were pumped.”
Father Tim celebrated his first Mass on campus in the dorms, and then at a filled Chapel of Mary on campus. “The support from the Stonehill College community has been phenomenal,” he added.
When asked how it felt to be just a five-minute walk from his office to the grave site of Servant of God Holy Cross Father Patrick Peyton, Father Tim was succinct in his reply — “Awesome.”
And despite living in the middle of Patriots Nation, Father Tim’s allegiance to his Houston Texans remains as true as his devotion to God. “It’s going to be great having Vince Wilfork [a beloved New England Patriot for the last seven years who was released by New England and signed with the Texans] alongside J.J. Watt this season,” he told The Anchor with a wry smile.
It was witnessing a bunch of “normal guys” in formation for the priesthood that led a young man from Houston, Texas to pursue a priestly vocation in South Bend, Ind. And it’s a “normal guy” one can find in the middle of student life on the campus of Stonehill College who is bearing witness to today’s students of the love that God has for all His children. Just what Father Tim hoped to do.