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Father Christian Cook comes to us from Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro, NC, where he served as Parochial Vicar. He also served as Chaplain at Bishop McGuiness Catholic High School in Kernerville, NC.
Born in High Point, NC, he was baptized and made his First Communion at Immaculate Heart of Mary. “In third grade,” he recalls, “we moved to Asheville and I continued school at St. Eugene, and Asheville Catholic School.”
That’s where Fr. Cook first felt “really drawn to the priesthood.” He enjoyed serving Mass, and being with the priests of the parish, but he didn’t feel his true calling until he was practicing law in Raleigh. “It took a few years to sort out the call,” he remembers.
A Scriptural passage that affected the discernment of his vocation was Psalm 4. “It always stuck with me, and drew me to leaving my career and studying for the priesthood,” he explains. “It reads: ‘O men, how long will your hearts be closed, will you love what is futile and seek what is false?’” Fr. Cook began to realize that “loving my corporate career was loving something false and futile, relative to my soul, and it helped me to detach from my corporate life, and head to the seminary in 2011.”
“I love to read, hike, and spend time with my family. My father lives in Asheville, and I have a younger brother in Florida, and a sister in Georgia. We are all very close, and I love to travel to see them; I also like to travel with other priests, and enjoy our fraternal time together.” Father Cook also loves sports, and likes going to games, or watching them on TV. “A new hobby I would like to get into is model railroading,” he says hopefully. “A deacon at my previous parish got me interested, and some parishioners here have invited me to the local model railroad club, so I’m looking forward to that.” In addition smiling faces and subtle, smart humor always make Father smile! So does “listening to country music, and classic rock while driving.” He pretty much likes all kinds of food “…except liver!” Looking to the future, Fr. Cook hopes “to organize a pilgrimage for our parishioners’ one of these days.”
Home parish: St. Thomas Aquinas Church, Charlotte
City of birth: New York City
Birthday: Jan. 31, 1988
Raised in: Charlotte since 2003
Family: Parents John and Lucy Torres, siblings Matthew, Elisa, Sarah, Joseph, Maria, Anna, Max and Xavier
High School: Homeschool
College: Belmont Abbey College,
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in English literature
Pre-Theology: Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio
Theology: Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus, Ohio
Summer assignments in the diocese: St. Ann Church, Charlotte; St. Mark Church, Huntersville; St. Therese Church, Mooresville
Growing up, I always wanted to get married and have a family like my parents did. It was my brother Matthew who always wanted to be a priest (as fate would have it, Matthew is now married and has three kids, while I’m becoming a priest).
During my time at Belmont Abbey, I began to study literature, which did wonders for my faith. While I grew up in a good Catholic family, my experience of Catholicism had become rather dull. For years, the practice of my faith felt too routine. Studying literature at Belmont Abbey helped me see how beautiful my Catholic faith was. In particular, reading Dante’s “Divine Comedy” was a major factor in me coming to love my faith in a new way. I had known the truths of my faith all my life, but it wasn’t until I experienced its beauty expressed in classic literature that I began to desire God more. Needless to say, my faith, which had become mundane, had now become something I was passionate about. Having a good group of friends at Belmont Abbey to discuss new ideas we learned in our literature, philosophy and theology classes was something that consumed all of my time.
After graduating I wanted to be a novelist, where I could express the same beauty that inspired me to live an all-consuming Christian life. I landed an editing job at St. Benedict Press, where I worked with renowned professors from all around the country to create “Catholic Courses,” a video lecture series on topics such as history, literature, philosophy, theology and scripture. It fit well with my love of literature and my Catholic background. However, after working there for a year, I felt something lacking in my life.
In the summer of 2013, a good friend of mine entered the seminary. When he came back the next summer to begin his first summer assignment, he invited me to dinner with a few priests of Charlotte (Fathers Patrick Winslow, Matthew Kauth and Timothy Reid). Something happened during that dinner.
It was as though scales fell from my eyes, and I saw before me men who did not live compartmentalized lives.
During my year at St. Benedict Press, I felt like I had divided my life in a very unappealing way: I had my faith life on Sunday, my work life during the week, and my social life on the weekends. I knew I wanted something more – something fuller and more encompassing. The life of a priest was the answer to that desire.
Further, the concepts of epic adventures, perilous journeys and a hero’s quest for goodness that I fell in love with in so many stories in the literature that kindled the fire for my faith, found its fulfillment in the priesthood. The idea I could experience life to the fullest in a single day (from baptizing a child, to celebrating a wedding, to presiding over a funeral) filled me with awe.
My parents have done so much for me over the years, from passing down the faith, to supporting me in my vocation. A simple “thank you” would not suffice. I feel like responding to the call to the priesthood is a way I can give back to those who first gave to me. Even beyond my parents, there have been so many people – friends, priests, fellow parishioners at numerous parishes in the diocese – who have given me more than I deserve. They have opened their homes to me, supported me financially, and have shown me love in so many different ways. I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity to give back to a community that has given me so much throughout my life.