God has done it again. He turned water into wine by turning my disappointment that there would be no novitiate this past year into a beautiful experience in Vancouver.
I lived and worked in the downtown Eastside parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Paul’s, and Kateri Centre. Everyday was a new adventure that are too numerous to say here. Some examples are helping out at a men’s shelter, giving reflections at the jr. Legion of Mary, celebrating a Native burning ceremony to bring closure after the residential schools, being held hostage at a soup kitchen, and giving a workshop on how to live out Catholic social teaching.
All of them challenged me to go deeper in my relationship with God; to experience God not as a far-off abstract concept, but as a person who loves me and all those I meet. I also learned the importance of community and how the community of the church can be a living witness of the desire that God has to be in relationship with us.
One of the most spiritually challenging ministries I was involved in was the Agape ministry. Every night there is a group of usually 2-4 volunteers, who walk 10 blocks down East Hastings, to give prayer cards in a little bag of candy to the prostitutes and women on the street. On average, they meet about one hundred women. One evening, while I was walking with them, a woman found out that I was a seminarian. She wanted me to pray that she would find a place to live since the shelter was closing. I immediately thought to myself, “Who am I that I can pray for her to find a place? Homelessness is such a huge problem in Vancouver that what difference could my prayer make?”
As I wrestled with this idea, it forced me to re-examine my relationship with God. If we cannot ask God for the basic things we need in life, like a place to live, then what is the point of praying at all? And if we are left without prayer, then where will we find hope in our life? Her courage to put her trust in God has helped me to place my worries, fears, and even anger on Jesus because if Jesus is truly our friend and truly loves us, then especially during the times of greatest need, he will be at our side.
I will begin the novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois on August 17th. We will be eight novices from United States, Mexico, Zambia, and Australia. I look forward to growing deeper in my relationship with God and my identity as an Oblate. Thank you to all those who pray for me; your prayers seem to be working!
Join the Oblate Community
The Novitiate is the third stage in the formation program for one who is called by God to total discipleship as a Missionary Oblate Priest or Brother.
The purpose of the novitiate experience is to initiate the novice into the essential requirements of religious life. It is a time to grow in and respond more deeply to the vocation that one has received from God, to come to realize its demands, and to understand the meaning and value of the vows of poverty, chastity, obedience and perseverance.
If you are thinking of becoming a Missionary Oblate Brother or Priest you are in for a journey wherein you share the responsibility for the time and the method of your formation. Click here for more information on becoming an Oblate Missionary Brother or Priest.