“It has been a wonderful journey.”

I remember growing up in Waterford and we would frequently visit the local Franciscan Friary for Mass and confessions. The one memory that I can highlight from these visits is the feeling of being at home in the friary church. This feeling always stayed with me and as life progressed and the presence of a vocation began to emerge, I always found myself returning to the feeling of being at home.

Priesthood was the vocation which was always had the strongest pull for me and when I entered the national seminary, I quickly realised that something was missing – this feeling of being at home was tugging at me from within. I knew at that stage that my vocation had to exist within the context of a Franciscan Spirituality.

And so, the journey began! 

Since joining the Franciscans in 2013, I have enjoyed the gift of many opportunities: living and studying abroad, experiencing the universal nature of the church, and meeting people from all over the world. In pastoral ministry too, the opportunities have been both rich and challenging. 

One such ministry that I have found to be deeply enriching is that of hospital pastoral care. Initially, I had huge reservations about my ability to work in this area. I had a strong awareness how I was entering onto hospital wards filled with healthcare professionals who were trained and qualified to deal with sick people.

As a chaplain in training, my awareness had been of how untrained I was in comparison to the professionals with whom I share the patients. In truth, I felt inadequate standing there in my habit, looking like some guy who had just walked off the set of the latest Star Wars film! However, I persevered, and God certainly surprised me during this time. I found in myself an ability to connect in some positive way with people who were at their lowest and most vulnerable, particularly around end of life. Connecting with the most vulnerable in our lives is a key aspect to our Franciscan Spirituality. It is really a grace and it does bring a real sense of fulfilment and joy.

So, if you are thinking about looking at the Franciscan way of life, be open and allow yourself to be surprised by God. It really is a wonderful journey. 

God Bless.