From bar brawler “badass” to deacon

From bar brawler “badass” to deacon September 1, 2015

A great vocation story, about the chaplain for the New Orleans office of the FBI, via The New Orleans Advocate: 

 Dan Haggerty takes great delight in recalling the biblical story of Saul, the one-time scourge of Christians, and how Saul became St. Paul on the road to Damascus.

The white-maned, white-bearded, “Irish to the bone” Haggerty holds a thumb and index finger inches apart as he likens Saul’s bolt from the blue to his own.

dt.common.streams.StreamServer“It was a window that opened and closed that quickly,” Haggerty said. “It happened in a flash … and just like with Saul, it changed my life completely.”

Haggerty is chaplain for the New Orleans office of the FBI and the Slidell Police Department. That’s the “Paul” chapter.

The “Saul” chapter opened, appropriately enough, in the tough Irish Channel neighborhood of New Orleans where Haggerty grew up, dropped out of high school and gained a well-deserved reputation as a barroom brawler.

Unlikely, considering that Haggerty came from a long judicial bloodline: His grandfather was a clerk of court in New Orleans, seemingly from the days of Moses, and his father followed in those footsteps to take the job; his uncle, Edward, was a longtime New Orleans criminal district court judge.

“It was in my blood,” Haggerty said. “Courtrooms, politics … it’s what I grew up with. My grandfather was clerk of court from 1919 to 1970. Then, he handed the job off to my father. My father had plans to do the same for me.”

What his progenitors didn’t count on was young Dan’s penchant for walking into a barroom and not backing down if somebody looked at him the wrong way.

When he dropped out of Fortier High School, a lot of people may have written him off. “It was actually my goal back then to be a badass,” Haggerty said. “You walk into a bar, somebody says something — pow! A brawl.”

Obviously, something happened. Find out what. 

Photo via The New Orleans Advocate

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