WARRENSBURG A lifes path to religion is not always a straight shot. Often, individuals find their belief systems and spiritual careers through years of probing and introspection. Such is the case for Father John Cornelius of the Church of the Holy Cross. His start was akin to a rebel in the secular world, according to observations he offered in an interview Thursday. I really got into the 60s, Cornelius said. I found the protest culture fascinating it just seemed to make sense at the time. Cornelius said that he first encountered the anti-Vietnam protests in 1968 while attending Fredonia College in Western New York. The son of a small town mechanic and English teacher, Cornelius was raised attending what he described as a far-right Baptist church. He said that his beliefs remained steadfast throughout his childhood until they were shaken in his late teens with the divorce of his parents and an intra-church political coup. This is when I began to question things, Cornelius said. I began to embrace some of the real radical stuff. Cornelius said that he spent the next several years living the era complete with blurred moral guidelines. He even spent time in Chicago with SDS and Weather Underground members. Shortly thereafter, Cornelius was drafted and enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving out an uneventful three-and-a-half-year tour. After returning, Cornelius returned to Fredonia to finish his Bachelors degree in English literature. It was this time when he began to question the state of the protest culture. It started out altruistic, but eventually individuals gained power in the movement, he said. It turned into celebrating personalities people were getting hurt and murdered. During the 1970s and 1980s, Cornelius met his future wife Sheryl, and worked numerous labor and mill jobs throughout the country. I was searching for something, Cornelius said. I realized that there has to be some universal form of morality to base ones beliefs on. Cornelius began researching and attending countless religious sects, ranging from Catholicism to Buddhism. Yet, none of these fulfilled his needs. The Catholic mass was losing its tradition and order, he said. The Episcopal church seemed to be what the Catholic Church was several hundred years prior- I love the ancient tradition in the Episcopal mass. After attending an Episcopal Church in Western New York for several years with his wife and three young daughters, Cornelius enrolled in the Episcopal Seminary at Northwestern University in 1988. Following graduation, Cornelius served in churches from Cobleskill to Texas, eventually coming to Warrensburg in 2003. In his interview, it seemed that Cornelius has finally found his universal ethic which he searched for so vigorously. He refers to himself as an Augustinian, focusing on the classical framework of The Fall of Man. He sees secular society as that which is full of hubris and a lack of moral restraint. Secular philosophy always seems to end with Nietzsche, he said. Secularism doesnt work people always want to become God. For those who wish to discuss issues or debate with Cornelius, he can often be found at The Coffee Room, which Sheryl and daughter Virginia have recently purchased and moved to the former location of Carmellas on Main St. Sheryl said that she hopes to reopen the business Oct.1. Its a place for discussion, Sheryl said. Anyone is welcome at any time.