Studying church history led him on the road home
DENVER’S FATHER DOUG GRANDON WENT FROM EPISCOPAL CLERGYMAN TO LAY LEGATE TO PRIEST-CHAPLAIN
Father Doug Grandon is among the few who have been both a lay Legate and a Legatus chaplain.
“The amazing vision Tom Monaghan had was that those serving at the higher echelons of business deserve to be evangelized because they can influence so many people in a positive way for the kingdom,” Fr. Grandon said in a recent interview with Legatus magazine.
Father Grandon, 61, associate chaplain of Legatus’ Denver Chapter, his wife, Lynn, and four of their six children entered the Catholic Church in 2003 after he spent five years as an Episcopal priest. He joined Legatus as a layman in 2005. Three years later, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Peoria, IL, under the pastoral provision created by St. Pope John Paul II for former Protestant clergymen.
Today, Fr. Grandon is national chaplain for the Colorado-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS).
How was your religious upbringing?
I was a pure pagan. My family didn’t go to church. I heard the gospel at 13 and became a Christian at 14. I spent most of my life as an evangelical Protestant. I was a missionary in Communist Yugoslavia for five years, and then a church-planting pastor. I began reading more in church history, and I realized that my evangelical Protestantism was weak historically and liturgically.
What happened as you learned more about church history?
My wife and I became Episcopalian for eight years. The church sent me to England for my formation, and I served as an Episcopal clergyman for five years. My Episcopal diocese was evangelical, but also very “small-c” catholic. That’s where I learned about apostolic succession, the Real Presence in the Eucharist, and the intercession of the saints. It eventually became very clear that we almost certainly couldn’t have apostolic succession, we didn’t have valid sacraments, and therefore I wasn’t a “Catholic” priest as I was told I was. I told my bishop that I had concerns about my ability to celebrate a valid Mass. He said, “If you have concerns, you should become a Roman Catholic.” So I did.
Describe your recent experience as a Legatus chaplain.
I love our Chapter members and have a very special relationship with them. I did a mission to Romania with some FOCUS university students in March. When I returned, everybody who came from Europe was asked to self-quarantine [for COVID-19]. I quarantined in my basement, where I celebrated a daily Mass on my dresser. God put it on my heart to contact our Legatus families. We have 75 or more families in our very large Chapter. I called every family. I found that they needed to talk to somebody. Some of them wanted to talk for a half hour. Sometimes they would cry. One Legatus wife had the virus, and I was privileged to go anoint her. Any Legatus chaplain would love his people like that.
What’s something that people are surprised to learn about you?
I have a collection of about 100 Soviet antiChristian propaganda posters dating from 1917 to the 1980s. When I was Episcopalian, I taught four winters in Moscow. My first winter there, I began discovering these posters in flea markets and antique shops. I began buying them. They were fairly inexpensive. Every now and then someone asks me to do an exhibit and give lectures on religious freedom today and Soviet Communism’s attacks on the Christian Church.
What books are you reading?
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles, a great fictional read. I also immensely enjoyed J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. If you can endure the profanity, it’s profoundly wonderful and significant.