Recently, Ed Sikora (right) professed his first vows and Raphael Ma (left) renewed his vows at Resurrection College in Waterloo, Ontario. I have been part of a team of Resurrectionists and lay people that have supported them and offered suggestions along the way to help them discern their fit potential fit with our community.
4 years ago I remember the knock on the door as a vocation director with nobody in formation. It was Raphael, or “Raph” as we now call him. He came across the question “Why not religious life?” in his discernment and knew some Resurrectionists whom he admired that could perhaps help him find out more about this path. I was just just happy to have someone knock on the door. He looked a little heavier with serious decisions to make. He had to leave a lot behind, his parents perception of their son’s future was challenged, and the less than robust formation plan in religious communities these days made things more than a little confusing for him and for us all. We had many questions like: Where was God leading this young man? What would it mean for his future and the future of the community? How can we all “get out of the way” and let the Holy Spirit do what she does best? When he renewed his vows that day I simply admired his perseverance, his family’s perseverance, and God’s perseverance in them and in our religious community. The ceremony lead to many moments of pure joy and continues to give us all hope for the present and future of religious life.
Ed was a different story. He was a photocopy repair person in Bermuda visiting the various parishes that our community ministered at. Over a 10 year period he was quietly deepening his prayer life and feeling drawn ever closer to these priests whom he served as customers. I think he was spying on us – in a good way! It wasn’t until one of our men was installed as the next Bishop of Bermuda that he decided to take a leap and apply to begin as a postulant. He has since completed a one-year novitiate in Chicago and his radiant face in the photo above reveals the happiness he continues to experience discerning with us.
All of this is to simply express some gratitude to God for being with our community, all those discerning religious life, and those for whom the discernment affects the most. I have noticed over the years that discernment can be a bit of a grind for candidates and those walking with them at times, but perseverance really does pay off. I think our constant efforts to embrace this beautiful vocation for today let God know that we are serious about the future of religious life and that we see it as a partnership with God where we both promise to never give up. Perhaps that’s why nobody can really say that God desires a community to grow or go out of existence. Perhaps it more of a relational thing where we all get to have a say in whether or not our community lives or dies.
Written by: Fr. Toby Collins, CR