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Hey, I’m Patrick! 

 

Compared to some, I had a rough start in life. 

 

Growing up in a violent neighbourhood forced me to learn how to fight and then to get up, even if I didn’t want to.

 

I quickly learned that staying down didn’t mean the fight was over, it just made it easier for the other kid to go on hitting me.

 

So I got up. 

 

Over time, I told myself that if I could become stronger, or faster, or smarter—if I could just try harder to become any of these things—then life would be better for me. And so, that became a kind of motto for my life. 

 

“I want to try harder,” I wrote on the yellow piece of cardboard paper that my grade two teacher handed me. It was the year that we were to receive our first communion and we were all asked to make a promise to ourselves and to this God. 

 

It probably didn’t make much sense to my teacher when she read it, but to me it meant a great deal.

 

Years later when I encountered God in quite a miraculous way—in the heart of a tornado in fact—it was this phrase, this promise that had sprung to my mind. 

 

“Patrick, what do you want?” God asked me. And in a moment that has forever changed me, I responded like the little boy who had many times tried to lift his head one more time, “I want to try harder.”

 

My life ever since has been filled with much joy and adventure. I have earned a black belt in karate, learned several languages, travelled to Europe on a few occasions, and even acquired three university degrees, one of which is in theology.

 

And yet for all of that, my greatest accomplishment was finding the courage to marry the girl of my dreams. Now, Kyla and I share the joint task of raising nine beautiful children. 

 

Together, we continually ask questions like, “How do we help them to become the saints that God is calling them to be?” And “How do we nurture this marriage so that our love can grow stronger as time passes?”

 

By all accounts, this has turned our little tribe into a missionary family, one whose goals and dreams are not aligned with the world but with the plan that God has for every one of us. And so together we pray, we laugh, we learn, and we remind each other that no matter how hard life gets or, how many times we get knocked down, Sullivans always get up. 

 

In our walk with God we have to try harder, not just for ourselves, but for the world that desperately needs saints.