Thomas Benson

Hi, my name is Thomas Benson. I am currently serving at the colleges of Florida International University and the University of Miami.

Where I serve

I am serving at both the universities of Florida International and Miami. Florida International is an extension campus off of Miami, meaning that there is one team of missionaries between the two universities. This is the first year that there will be missionaries at FIU, and I am blessed to be one of the first missionaries to be assigned there.

My Story

My story starts in the town of Auburn, AL, where I was born and raised by two wonderful Catholic parents. We were very much faithful Sunday Mass goers, and my parents were decently involved in my home parish growing up. This meant that if I wasn’t outside playing sports, then I was most likely being dragged to Church by my mother or being forced to participate in some adult led Bible Study for kids. Which, looking back at it now, there were much worse things that my parents could have forced me to do…like that time they signed me up for a swim team even though I didn’t know how to swim. But you live and you learn I guess.

After I learned how to swim, I had my first major encounter with God. I was in mass one day, minding my own business, when my grandmother leaned over to me and said, “I think you’d make a good priest.” I immediately dismissed her comment, telling myself that when I got older, I wanted to have the ability to be able to hug women (I was 7 at the time). But immediately after I made the firm decision that I was not going to be a priest, God filled me with an indescribable joy that let me know that there may be potential that He was calling me to the priesthood. That indescribable joy would arise on many occasions throughout the next twelve years of my life every time the idea of priesthood arose.

Eventually it got to my senior year, and I had a decision to make. I could either go to seminary, or I could go to a normal university like everyone else was doing. One day I sat down and began deeply discerning where I felt God guiding me over the past few years of my life. Every single memory I had led me deeper and deeper towards the calling to go to seminary. So, I packed up my belongings, kissed my parents goodbye, and headed a mile and a half down the road to attend Auburn University. That was a poor decision, and God immediately let me know it too. I don’t want to turn this brief life synopsis into a novel, so I will spare you from the details. But to make a long story short, I didn’t last very long at Auburn. I dropped out after 8 days of class and called up my vocation’s director, telling him that I was ready to join the seminary. He promptly told me that I was going to have to wait a year given that they school year for the seminary had also already started. So, I started having to break the news to the few friends that I had made over those 8 days that I was no longer a student at Auburn and that I had nothing to do for the foreseeable future. Some of those friends just happened to be the FOCUS missionaries on Auburn’s campus. They got together and ended up offering me a position as an unofficial intern on their team. So without hesitation, I took them up on their offer, threw a mattress down on one of the missionary’s floors (shoutout Andrew Green), and spent the year interning while continuing to discern seminary.

After that year had ended, I spent two years serving as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Mobile. But, as discernment would have it, God used that same indescribable joy to lead me out of the seminary and back to FOCUS, where I am now proud to announce that I am an official member on the FOCUS team of Miami. I will be serving the next few years at Miami University as well as at Florida International University.

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Want to learn more about Radiating Joy: The Michelle Duppong Story? CLICK HERE!
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