40 years ago, and before he was ordained a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, VA, Father Aitcheson was a member of the KKK. In what can be described as a radical conversion to Christ, Fr. Aitcheson left the KKK and pursued God’s calling: to become a priest in God’s Church, sharing in the one Priesthood of Christ.
In his candid reflection on the incidents that befell Charlottesville, VA, Fr. Aitcheson admits of his association with the KKK and of his guilt of being a part of such an organization and apologizes for this portion of his life. Reflecting on his time in the KKK, he writes, “In the course of one’s life, there are seminal moments that humble us and, in some cases, even bring shame.”
He also highlights that without a radical conversion to Jesus Christ and without the outpouring of His mercy, he would not have become the man, the priest, and the Christian he is today. He credits God’s grace as the reason for his reversion to his boyhood faith.
Like most people who have left a previous path of destruction in their lives, Fr. Aitcheson looks back on his past actions with disdain. He can’t believe how misguided he was as a young man. Praise be to God for Fr. Aitcheson and his courage and conviction to bring up this episode of his life so that others could learn of the power of a life lived in and with Christ.
Fr. Aitcheson’s story shows how the power of a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church can totally and utterly transform someone’s life.
Like Fr. Aitcheson, there are some moments in everyone’s life that we look back on with shame and humility. I know there are some in my life. But a conversion to Christ offers us an outpouring of grace, mercy, and love. As Catholics, especially, we have the opportunity and the ability (and duty) to experience this as often as we like through the sacrament of Confession.
There is nothing more powerful than a life lived in and with Christ. The power of His cross conquers all hatred and bigotry and leaves no room for any sort of racism or racial supremacy. Like Saint Paul wrote:
“Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.” (Gal 3:26-29)
N.B. – Fr. William Aitcheson requested a temporary leave of absence from his ministerial duties at this time. The request was granted by his bishop. We should pray for him. Since becoming a priest, he has not been accused at any time of harboring any racists attitudes towards others.