Country star Craig Morgan shares his journey of faith to becoming Catholic
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSV News) -- As country star Craig Morgan looks back on his life, from his military service to his multi-decade music career, he said one thing has always remained the same.
"It's all about God," Morgan said. "It's that simple."
"Nothing that has happened in my life and my career hasn't been part of God's plan, and I can assure you of this because I know this firsthand, I'm doing things in my life that I didn't plan on," he explained. "I didn't plan to be a country music singer. The only reason I'm in this industry is I wanted to write songs, but God had all these things lined up. He knew everything, and it just blows my mind."
In 2017, yet another thing happened that he didn't realize God had in store for him -- coming into full communion with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil. The process really got started after his wife and two sons joined the church a year before him. And at first, he said, he was slightly skeptical.
But as he studied more about the faith, "I started finding out just how Catholic I was my whole life," he said.
Morgan grew up in various Christian denominations, predominantly Baptist and, for a time, Presbyterian. But there were some things that didn't sit quite right with him until he began studying the Catholic faith.
One of the big things was the celebration of the Last Supper, or as Protestants refer to it, the Lord's Supper.
"I always felt like when (the Protestant Church) did that, something just wasn't 100 percent. I always felt a little weird," Morgan explained in an interview with the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville. "I never thought it was nearly as respectful as it should have been. Even if it was just seen as a representation of Christ, I felt that it had to be more respectful than just passing bread down the aisle.
"Then I learned and started studying that there was something more to that," he said. "That was God and the Holy Spirit tugging on me."
The Protestant view of the Bible was another thing that came up in his studies.
"Most Protestants believe everything you need to know is in the Bible, and I think they fail to recognize that Christ didn't leave us a Bible," Morgan said. "Christ left us a church, and I found that so fascinating.
"The more I studied, the more I realized the church was more responsible for our Christian faith than even the Bible. That's the church Christ started," he continued. And while now, the Christian faith has split into multiple denominations, "the church that Christ started, the Catholic Church, has never split, and I just love it."
The more he continued to study the history of the faith, the more fascinated he became and the more he realized where God was leading him.
"I tell people all the time now. All Christians are Catholic. They just don't know it yet," he said. "But I have such a great appreciation for the blessings that God gave me in the Baptist Church, in the Presbyterian Church, and in our fellow Christians. It was all part of my walk that brought me to this place."
Morgan and his family are parishioners of St. Christopher Church in Dickson.
For the last two years, he's become a key highlight for the Knights of Columbus' annual Supreme Convention, performing at the welcoming concert at the Grand Ole Opry in 2022, and again at this year's convention in Orlando, Florida. It was during that performance that he was invited to be a lifetime member.
"It's exciting," Morgan said of the invitation. "It's just another item that I didn't know enough about before, and after that I did a little research and realized what a positive impact the Knights have had not only in the Church but in the world."
It gave him the same feelings that he also had about serving in the military, he said. "You get that feeling of doing and being a part of something that is bigger and greater than yourself."
That feeling is partly what led him to decide to reenlist in the U.S. Army Reserve.
He was sworn-in on the Opry stage July 29, 2023. He began six weeks of full-time duty, attending Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Novosel, Alabama, Nov. 6. The decision came after having already completed nearly 18 years of active duty and reservist service from 1985 until 2004.
"It's an opportunity for me to go back and finish something that I started so many years ago," Morgan explained. "It's a big deal to spend 20 years at any job, but the military especially because of everything that goes on and the sacrifices that are made.
"To be given the opportunity to go back and finish, that was the primary reason," he said.
"Second was the opportunity to help with Army recruiting. It's at an all-time low. This is an opportunity for me to show the country that, if I can do this, anybody can do it, and, hopefully, it will encourage young people, in particular, but everyone to spend time serving the country," Morgan said. "It'll give you such a great deal of appreciation for our country and how fortunate and blessed we are in spite of all the negatives that may be taking place."
Before he left for military duty, his brand new extended-play album, "Enlisted," was released Oct. 20. While the title is a play on his recent decision to reenlist into the Army Reserves, it also plays on the decision to "enlist" his friends to help him with the project.
The six-track EP includes duet recordings of his biggest hits -- "Redneck Yacht Club" with Blake Shelton, "Almost Home" with Jelly Roll, "That's What I Love About Sunday" with Gary LeVox, and "International Harvester" with Lainey Wilson -- as well as two new original duets -- "Raise the Bar" with Luke Combs and "That Ain't Gonna Be Me" with Trace Adkins.
With so many new and exciting things happening in his life, he said, he continues to see the way God has worked.
But his music has become, in ways, a vessel for God. None more so than when he penned his 2019 single, "The Father, My Son, and the Holy Ghost," which tells the story of the grief he has experienced since losing his son in a drowning accident in 2016.
"I did not write that song. God wrote that song," Morgan said. "The last thing I wanted to do was put my pain and hurt out there in such a way that everyone could see it and hear it and feel it, but God did."
Through his music and now his time in the Army, and, most importantly, through his faith and belief in the Catholic Church, he said he wants to spread love.
"I love the message that our pope has about love," Morgan said. "A lot of people misinterpret a lot of things our pope has said, but I think it's because the devil wants so badly to destroy the church and that's the last standing foundation piece of our faith."
- - - Katie Peterson is a reporter with the Tennessee Register, newspaper of the Diocese of Nashville.