Heroine, cocaine, opium, marijuana, excessive alcohol, not to mention hallucinogenic drugs like mushrooms (psilocybin) and LSD – he consumed most of these before the age of 18, many before he turned 14, the addictions growing stronger as the existential emptiness deepened. What sounds like an introduction to a Hunter S. Thompson novel actually constitutes the autobiography of a Catholic priest. Fr. Donald Calloway of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception retells his dramatic and heart-wrenching life story in No Turning Back: A Witness to Mercy.
As a destructive youth, Calloway spent his adolescence succumbing to temptations large and small, from sins of the flesh with constant promiscuity, to crimes against the law with thousands of dollars of grand theft in stolen merchandise, as well as nightly partying with friends consuming all forms of drugs and addictives while listening to heavy-metal music.
At one point, Calloway became a follower of the rock band the Grateful Dead, inspiring entrance into a psychedelic culture which—among other things—left him with a big Grateful Dead tattoo on his arm. To this day he has it, as a remembrance of the past he lived. The past he left. To this day he doesn’t have a clue how that tattoo got there, being stoned to oblivion during the night of its implementation.
During his youth, Calloway was such an angry and rebellious kid that he names a chapter in his book “Animal” in describing himself, his early mentality, his vicious ways. His family (especially his parents) suffered great emotional trauma as a result of their son’s behavior. For a while, they lived on a military base in Japan, for Calloway’s stepfather was an officer. This didn’t last too long. Running around with Japanese gangs, stealing tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise—from electric guitars to cars—got young Donald Calloway arrested and deported from the country. He was escorted through the airport by military guards with chains and shackles around his hands and feet, while he spat at his captors and threw out verbal obscenities to surrounding pedestrians, angrily cursing his way onto the plane.
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