The following reflection was a morning prayer given by Emanuel Vasconcelos, the campus minister at Cathedral High School in Springfield.
It should be noted that “Mr. V” is the second campus minister from Cathedral to leave his job and pursue a religious vocation. Keith Maczkiewicz served at Cathedral from 2004 to 2006 and is now in formation as a Jesuit.
As I was driving in to school this morning, I noticed it was pretty foggy. Fog is sometimes scary to drive through, since you don’t see what’s ahead of you in the distance. There’s been a lot of fog the last few weeks among everyone here at Cathedral about me and next year. I’ve heard rumors that run the spectrum of having a girlfriend to becoming a monk. Allow me to “melt the fog clouds” so to speak by sharing with you an abbreviated version of my vocation story.
It was about this time a year ago that I was filling out a “Preliminary Questionnaire” expressing interest in the Conventual Franciscan Friars. I thought it was funny, because I never had an interest in Franciscans before, and I didn’t even know who Conventual Franciscan Friars were until I started working here at Cathedral four years ago. In April last year I was talking one-on-one with Fr. Marek from St. Stan’s in Chicopee, and he gave my name to the Vocation Director, Fr. Vincent, just so I could get more information about the friars and make a better informed decision.
I mailed out that questionnaire last June. I remember hearing back from Fr. Vincent and scheduling to meet him in July. I was so nervous! I remember choosing my outfit, making sure I looked good…not to sound weird, but it almost felt like a first date! I wanted to make a good impression on him. All of my meetings with him have been good. In November I met more of the friars and postulants (that’s a fancy term for first-year guys who are looking at joining the order) down in Maryland, where they study. I got the sense that God was leading me to this. I went back down there in January, and it felt like a homecoming! I kept being reassured that this was the right direction for me to go, and the more I was informed, the more I wanted to join.
I applied, and I’ll be finding out in mid-June (HE FOUND OUT AND IT IS OFFICIAL ) whether or not I’m going to Maryland this coming August to enter as a postulant for the Conventual Franciscan Friars. (ENTRANCE DATE IS AUG. 23) It’s looking pretty positive, but nothing’s official until mid-June.
The most difficult part of all this is that to enter into something like this means that I have to leave whatever I’m in. Believe me, this has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, and it’s taken a lot of thought and prayer. I love being here at Cathedral and I really enjoy working and praying alongside all of you.
I just sense in me this “higher calling” of being a Franciscan priest that I trust will bring me great joy and happiness, and bring me closer to Jesus than ever before. My prayer for all of you is that you also discover in your hearts what it is that God is calling you to be. He is calling you to something. We just need to listen for Him. It is in God’s Will that we will find our peace and our joy. I’d like to share with you a prayer that fits for today, especially with the “fogginess” of not knowing where God is leading us. It’s by Thomas Merton.
I’ll leave extra copies of this prayer on the prayer intention book in our Chapel.
We begin our day in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, And the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen. (Thomas Merton)