What Does it Mean to You to be a Swole.Catholic? - Paul

What does it mean to me?


For me, you have to go back to college, to where it all began...

The first two years of school was when I had two conversions; one of my heart and soul, and the other of my body and health.


My freshman year was what my best friend likes to call my “wenching days,” like in the movie Becket. I was going out more than four times a week, clubbing, smoking, and partying. I was also working +40 hours a week across two part time jobs, all on top of taking +16 credits at the hardest (best) engineering school in the country. Needless to say, I was living a sinful and unsustainable lifestyle.

All the while, I knew it wasn’t healthy, so I started going to the gym in hopes of at least trying to offset it.  I had some buddies from the dorms showing me the ropes, teaching me routines, and improving my technique. That’s when I started to figure out what it means to be physically strong.


At the same time, I knew how to play the part of a “good Catholic,” after all I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic school. I felt like I knew the rules, and therefore I knew exactly how far I could push boundaries. In trying to play the part, I still went to Sunday Mass and even got an extra checkmark on my list by going to Bible study.  But my heart was never in it, these actions were just to follow the rules and to cross off my checklist.


At the end of my freshman year, for reasons I did not know, my Bible study leader asked me to be a FOCUS student leader. And for even more reasons I did not know, I said yes. At the beginning of my sophomore year, the leaders gathered together to prepare for the semester. During this meeting we went around and shared our conversion testimonies. When it came to be my turn, all I could say was “I don’t think I have one…I think I’m in the middle of mine.” This moment was the turning point.

I changed my lifestyle. I had to.

I began with changing my schedule and seeking stronger friends. My weeks turned into focusing on my studies, taking care of my body, and most importantly taking care of my soul. I got more involved with the campus ministry, and finding good solid holy friendships.

That is when I started to figure out what it actually means to be Catholic and to know and love God. It wasn’t about the rules anymore, it was about loving this Person who created me and wants to see me flourish.  As I started to own my faith, I started leading Bible studies. It seemed like every week in study there would be an analogy or reference back to the gym or working out. And that’s how it all started to click. These things aren’t mutually exclusive, but rather they can build each other.


So, I had these two big things going on in my life and it just made sense that these two should go together. I learned how important it is to be strong in both my physical and spiritual life. After all, we are body and soul and we should be building both. And so, to be a Swole.Catholic for me, it means these two build each other.

For example, the discipline needed to get up for your 5am workout is the same discipline to get up a little earlier for your morning prayer.




Paul McDonald

Co-Founder and Team Member


Paul is a 2015 graduate of Colorado School of Mines; though he grew up a cradle catholic and went through the motions, it was during his college days that he really made his faith his own.  Paul has an incredible heart for ministry that is rooted in his deep love of the faith, the Church, and most importantly Jesus Christ. He loves to challenge others to grow in their relationship with our risen Lord and never settles for mediocrity; after all, we aren’t made for comfort, but for greatness!  Paul is the lifeblood of Swole.Catholic but when he can spare a moment, he is Mr. Colorado.  Anything from fine coffee and craft beer to cigars and whiskey to long backpacking trips high up in the mountains, this guy does it all.

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