Former executive now seminarian, he’d give fortune ‘back a million times’ for Jesus

by Gina Christian

(OSV News) — At age 50, seminarian Scott-Vincent Borba doesn’t consider his to be a late vocation.

“God called me at age 10,” he told OSV News. “I just accepted late.”

Now in his pastoral year at St. Patrick’s University and Seminary in Menlo Park, California, Borba chuckled as he recalled his first meeting with his vocation director— to which he drove a luxury car and wore an expensive black suit.

“(The director) opened the door, looked at me and said, ‘I have got a lot of work to do on you,'” Borba recalled.

But his automotive and fashion choices for the meeting were to be somewhat expected.

After all, Borba had been an internationally famous cosmetics executive, who before age 30 had spearheaded successful business campaigns for some of beauty’s biggest brands, including Neutrogena, Sebastian, Joico, Murad and Hard Candy. He was co-founder of the e.l.f line of products, which had made him a household name, and had even developed his own eponymous brand of skin-balancing water, with Anheuser Busch signing on for a marketing and distribution deal.

He had several books to his credit, such as Skintervention and Cooking Your Way to Gorgeous.

Borba, who had modeled as a youth, was an esthetician to the stars, and even gave actress Mila Kunis a $7,000 facial — using microcrystals from diamonds and rubies — for the 2011 Golden Globe awards.

He’d had an office in Beverly Hills, a beach house not far away, a social life that included parties with Paris Hilton and millions in the bank.

And amid what seemed to be a nonstop wave of fortune and fame, he was miserable.

“I was at a party and I was very, very unhappy,” Borba told OSV News. “I just felt like I was empty and I was empty. I was exhausted. I was burning the candle on both ends.”

Right on the spot, Borba looked up to heaven.

“I said, ‘God, if this is life, where all you do is work and party and do that all over again and die, then this is not the life that I think that you have made for me. But I can only change if you help me,'” he recalled.

In response, Borba experienced a sudden conviction about his worldly ways, the reality of sin and hell, and God’s power to save.

“I said, ‘Help me. . . I don’t want to do this (anymore),'” Borba said. “I was sincere about it and asking for God’s help, (and) he gave me my conversion. . . It was God’s grace all over me.”

In short order, Borba packed his bags, left his house and checked into a hotel.

“I just didn’t want to be at my house anymore,” he said. “Everything reminded me of sin. . . I was telling God, ‘I am so sorry for having ever offended you.'”

Over the next few years, he moved away from Los Angeles and began divesting himself of his wealth — in stages, Borba admitted.

“At that point, God called me to give up everything, and I thought that meant just my cars,” he said. “So I had an Aston Martin convertible, and I said, ‘All right, Lord, I’m gonna sell this car, give the money to charity, and then use some other money to get myself a truck.’ Then he said, ‘Give it all up.'”

While it may have shocked his peers, Borba’s return to the faith of his childhood — from which he had become estranged during his college years and career ambitions — was the fruit of seeds sown earlier in life, he said.

His parents, both devout Catholics, were active in their parish and promoted devotion to Our Lady of Fatima. While he was in third grade, his mother suggested he consider the priesthood.

“At Mass, she asked me to look up at the altar, and if I wanted to be the man in the robes,” Borba said. “Whoever the priest was, his robes at that moment were shimmering like glitter. . . And I knew God was placing on my heart to become a priest.”

Mary has been instrumental in his vocation journey, Borba said.

After a particular childhood prayer intention was answered favorably following a rosary he prayed, Borba “asked Mary to stay with me, to keep me and to hold me throughout my entire life.

“I know that our Blessed Mother has brought me into this vocation because of her love for me and for her Son,” said Borba.

Even when he headed to Los Angeles after college to seek worldly success, Borba —who had then lapsed in his practice of the faith — still instinctively sought to connect with God.

On the drive there, “God gave me the grace to turn off my radio, roll down my window and scream out to him, ‘Father, Father, please help me achieve some of my dreams. And upon achieving those, I will give you back my life and service,'” said Borba.

Now, Borba — who left those dreams behind at age 40, and entered the seminary at 42 — is making good on that promise.

“I have never been happier. I have never been more full of joy,” he said. “With everything the world can give me, I would give it back a million times over to be united to Jesus.”

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