- Arts & Life
Travis Moran absently fingers a wooden cross that hangs around his neck as he sits on the edge of a leather chair upstairs in the student center. The crucifix, also known as St. Francis’s Cross, is unique and holds sentimental value for this Connecticut native. It is in the shape of the Tau, which is Greek for “conversion.” Moran is a member of a rare breed: a young American college student who sees the possibility of priesthood in his future.
This particular student has a story that’s even more exceptional because of his major. Moran’s chosen career path at Quinnipiac University is physical therapy, hardly a common undergraduate degree for a future man of God.
His aspirations took root during his childhood. Moran has a younger brother and two younger sisters. The youngest, Faith, is a five-year-old whom Moran calls a “little princess.”
Today, Moran speaks enthusiastically about his parents (both QU alumni) and the real lessons of faith he was taught at home.
“They encouraged me and my brother and my sisters to really take our faith on for ourselves,” Moran said emphatically. “They encouraged us to really embrace it.”
Moran looks particularly to his father as a role model. Moran says his father is one of the “true heroes” in his life, as a man of faith and a good father.
“I’ve seen my dad truly changes lives,” Moran said of his father’s own physical therapy practice. “God has worked through him in a very special way.”
While his devotion to God was fostered at home, he attended a small Christian school of 50 total students for grades 1-8.
“I graduated with three other kids, we were tight,” Moran said with a laugh.
Middle school, also known as the period when boys think girls have cooties and vice versa, was when Moran first began to gain an idea of a possible future in the clergy.
“So middle school, I don’t like girls, I love God, okay I’ll be priest,” Moran said laughingly of his early adolescent years. “It was very naive, very simple.”
From then on, priesthood glowed as a burning ember in the back of Moran’s mind as he grew went from being a boy with hormones (“I went a little girl crazy in high school,” Moran said with a bashful chuckle) to a senior at Quinnipiac University.
Now, Moran works his faith into every element of his college experience. A large component of Travis’s QU involvement is the Branches Catholic Campus Ministry. Moran is a servant leader along with five other students, including best friend and fellow campus ministry member Anthony Allen.
“It would not be an understatement to say that God put him in my life for a very special reason,” Allen said. “The bond of friendship we share is unique from any other relationship I have.”
The campus ministry has been, according to Moran, one of the strongest elements of support given to him. “There’s just something really special about Branches,” he said. “It’s meant for a community, that’s the whole notion.”
Father Hugh Vincent Dyer is the Catholic chaplain on campus and the director of campus ministries. “I see the way that he serves others, in simple things,” Dyer said. “He takes the time, to give someone a smile, a hug, to see how someone is doing.”
Moran doesn’t limit his QU experiences to faith-based activities, but manages to work his faith into every aspect of his life. He serves as a Knights of Columbus trustee, as well as a SPB general member, public relations chair for VITA Pro-Life, and a student manager at Rocky Top Student Center.
If this isn’t enough to keep him busy, he has been on multiple alternative spring break trips to places like Alabama and Florida, mostly with Habitat for Humanity. He has also undertaken other trips as a missionary to countries like Haiti.
Along with these other activities, Moran has participated in the orientation program at QU for the past three years.
“I had phenomenal OLs, Brittany House and Matt Antonucci,” Moran explained when asked why he got involved with orientation in the first place. Without knowing what to expect or anyone else in the program, he applied for an OL position after his freshman year and was accepted.
“It was my first opportunity to step up at Quinnipiac as a leader, and that really helped to mold me in a lot of ways,” Moran said.
He spent two summers as an orientation leader, first with Lindsey Burroughs and then with Alyssa Lungarini. This past summer, Moran was an undergraduate orientation intern, along with seniors Ivy Laplante and Severino Randazzo.
Moran was surprised by an additional, unofficial honor bestowed on him.
“There’s kind of an unwritten position in orientation, the Orientation Dad. It’s one of the oldest traditions,” he said. “It’s a highly esteemed position that is handed down among the OL guys.”
The irony of his role as a pseudo-father figure is not lost on this potential clergyman.
“It’s hysterical how God works because as an orientation dad, you’re a father to people who really aren’t your kids. And that’s a priest,” Moran said with his hands widespread.
Apparently, many of Moran’s friends have no trouble imagining their friend donning the robes. “I think that Travis got put into our lives for a very special reason,” Laplante said. “Whenever you have a conversation with him, it’s like God speaking through him. It’s a really unique experience.”
“He sees the good in everything, every person and every thing that’s around him,” Randazzo said. “That’s a great thing to have in a friend and in a person you go to for guidance.”
Moran sees his life going in many different possible directions. He may become a dad and physical therapist, like his own father. His friends call him an “inspiration.”
“I have never come to Travis with something on my heart without leaving with a bit more spring in my step,” Allen said.
His fellow orientation intern agrees. “I know whenever I talk to him, it’s always a better day after that,” Laplante said.
One thing is for sure, and Travis Moran is an extraordinary college student who has found happiness in God, which for him is worth some sacrifices of what he calls “worldly things.”
“Do I feel like I’m held back? Definitely not,” Moran said. “Do I feel like there are sacrifices I have to make? For sure…. I’ve never gotten drunk before, I don’t like hook up with girls, stuff like that. Not because I feel like I’m above that at all, there’s been times when I’ve been tempted,” but to this devoted follower, he knows God has other plans for him.
“One thing I admire about Trav is his faith and not so much his faith in God, but his faith in trusting God and knowing that everything happens for a reason,” Laplante said.
Moran may not end up taking the vows of a man of the cloth, but he will always be a man of the faith.
“I feel I’ve been given so much, and ‘to much is given, much is expected,’” Moran said, paraphrasing a quote from the Gospel of Luke. “And I really want to pursue passionately what it is that that God has for me.”
He explains that since coming to Quinnipiac, he’s moved to a process he calls “discerning,” or what he calls “thinking of the heart.”
“Discerning is considering that [being a priest] is a truly potential possibility in life,” he said. “And knowing that God has put this in my heart for a reason.
“Whether I’m going to be a priest or whether I’m going to be married, I know I need to at least consider this as an option.”