David Patterson reverted to the Catholic Church at the age of 21 after attending a retreat in 2009. Since those pivotal moments, David has led the way in youth ministry, high school chaplaincy and most recently as a social media influencer by founding Yes Catholic, an organization that calls young people to the catholic faith by sharing real life stories that have the power to change hearts.
David Patterson completed a Bachelor of Business Administration, specializing in Human Resources. When he came home to the Catholic Church on August 15, 2009, he was inspired to complete a Masters of Theological Studies at St. Augustine’s Seminary, University of Toronto. While studying theology, he worked in youth ministry for six years, leading Life Teen, Edge, Retreats and Confirmation programs. David is currently working as a chaplaincy leader for the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board. With over 12 years serving in youth ministry, David has led retreats and spoken at various Catholic conferences, such as the Lift Jesus Higher Rally, Regenerated, and Mladifest to name a few.
As a kid, I had a lot of unanswered questions about the Faith. When I was in grade nine, I wanted to see if anyone really believed in Jesus and the Catholic Church – but to be honest, I didn’t see anybody who did. So I thought to myself, “Why should I?” I had already experienced a lot of confusion and anger from my parents’ divorce, and although my mother kept trying to encourage me – to get me to talk to this priest or that priest – I was already done with it all, and I was only 15.
That summer, my life went quickly downhill. I spent the entire break drinking, smoking and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Sadly, that was a snapshot of my entire high school experience. I wish I could say that my time at university was different, but I actually found myself drinking often, even to the point where I would black out from the alcohol.
But you have to understand something. Though I was not thinking about Christianity or Jesus, my mother had not given up on me. She was praying for me. She kept bugging me to go on a retreat, and finally, just to make her stop, I gave in.
The retreat didn’t begin so well. I was angry and I didn’t want to be there, so I sat outside yelling at my mother, trying to convince her that I should leave. In the midst of the turmoil, a Catholic priest approached. Not only did he talk me down from my anger, but he actually convinced me to stay, even though I was still skeptical.
When the first talk began, the speaker got my attention. He told me about the love of God. He said that a simple ‘yes’ to Christ will change your life forever. He continued, “Today is August 15th. Run to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and be free. Make today the day you said ‘yes’ to Jesus.”
He got me where it hurt, because more than anything, I wanted to be free and I knew that I was not. So that evening, I ran to confession. As I confessed, I felt a little lighter and lighter and when the priest gave me absolution, I felt free. I felt changed.
When I returned from the retreat, I began to go to Mass by myself. I started to frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And after six months of staying close to Jesus, God healed my addictions. So yeah, God broke the chains in my life.
I went on another retreat months later. While praying in front of the Eucharist, God put an image in my mind. I saw a group of teens praising God in the basement of the Church I grew up in. The next day, since I was in my hometown, I went to that Church and spoke to the priest, sharing what I had seen. His face immediately changed. He said, “That’s really weird because yesterday we had a meeting talking about looking for a youth minister. I think you could be him.”
I felt so unworthy. I mean, if that priest knew where I had been and what I had done in my life, I was certain that he would not have asked me. Little did I know, that’s how God works. He chooses the broken, He heals our hearts, and He loves us even as we fall again.
I accepted the position as a Youth Minister, and I was blown away by what God was able to do, even though I had no idea what I was doing. And the funny thing was, I was so focused on trying to minister to these young people through my brokenness that I completely forgot that Jesus was consistently ministering to me.
I know that because on the first day of our first summer camp, I met a camp counselor who changed my life forever. Her name was Alexandra, and she was beautiful.
When we decided to start dating, we took each other’s hands, bowed our heads and asked that God would bless us, and be the center of everything that we do. I know He heard us. After dating for months, we started a Novena – a nine-day prayer- to discern if we were called to the Sacrament of Marriage. The whole week, all I could hear on my heart was, ‘propose.’
You see, God was still ministering to me, and He was even willing to get my friend involved to help me get to where I needed to go. In the middle of a conversation one day, my friend suddenly asked, ‘Do you love Alexandra?’
Without hesitating, I told him that I did and that I was even thinking about proposing on Thursday (I don’t even know where the idea of Thursday came from!). We spent the rest of the night planning how I would get the permission of her parents and the ring.
The night before Thursday, Alexandra called me and said, “Hey, I was just thinking that tomorrow is the ninth day of our Novena to see if we are called to marriage.” The following morning we went to Mass and then we went to a spot overlooking a lake, the place where we had our first date. It was there that I asked Alexandra to spend the rest of her life with me. Thankfully, she said, “Yes!”
It was such a special day and yet, God wanted me to know that there was also some other significance to the day that I was unaware of. After doing some digging I realized: I had proposed to my bride on August 15th, and it was August 15th, 2009 that I came home to the Church. Coincidence? I think not.
The reality is, I was a mess but I was His mess. Through it all, God never stopped loving me, and like my mother, He never gave up on me.
Alexandra and I were married a year later and have been blessed with two sons. St. John Paul II said that, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.” Am I still a mess? Yes. But I know that God is working everything for His glory.
Testimonials / Endorsements:
“I have known David Patterson for several years and have been very impressed by his excellent work in Catholic Schools in helping the students to grow in their faith. He is a very good practicing Catholic, with a solid knowledge of the faith, and with a zealous desire to share the faith and lead people to Christ. I strongly recommend him.” – His Eminence Thomas Cardinal Collins
“Sometimes you meet a person and know right away they’re the real deal. David Patterson is one of those people. This guy is on fire for the Kingdom of God and his latest venture, “Yes Catholic,” is a powerful tool for helping people see the truth, beauty, and goodness of the Catholic faith! Keep it coming, David!” – Matthew Leonard
“David Patterson has the gift of being able to unearth the testimony of what God is doing in people’s lives. His zeal and passion shine fervently, most especially in the way he lives and dialogues with others. Yes Catholic is a fruitful example of David’s faithfulness, humility and “yes” to God’s call on his life!” – Chris Bray