“Trusting in the Holy Spirit.”
I am from Navan in County Meath and I am thirty-three years old. I was raised in a Catholic family household. I have three sisters and two brothers, and I come fourth in the family.
When I was growing up, I volunteered to serve Mass when I was in primary school. This for me had been a great joy and privilege. However, as time went on, I felt the pressures of my peer group and fell away from my faith and stopped practicing my faith in my early teenage years, especially when I attended secondary school. After finishing school, I was lucky to secure a full-time job with Tesco Ireland and worked there for twelve years.
Looking back, when did I decide to turn back to my faith? It had to be when I went traveling around in Australia for two years. During this time, I had an opportunity to reflect on the wonder creation. It was during my stay in Australia that I really began to think about my faith more deeply and how God had helped me through my life. I started to attend Mass again and the sacrament of confession.
During my time in Australia Pope Francis was elected to the chair of Saint Peter. Little did I know then, that within two years, I would be joining the order of the Saint whose name the Pope had adopted: Saint Francis of Assisi.
When I came back from my travels, I began to look a lot deeper into my faith by attending different prayer groups. Spending time with our Lord in adoration and praying the rosary. I really felt a strong sense that our Lord Jesus Christ was directing me into a new and radical way of living as a Christian. During this time I had a great sense of peace in my journey and great joy.
However, I did not know where I would start and I found this was a bit tough at the beginning. I was surprised by the variety of religious orders, and the different types of charisms. So why did I pick the Franciscans?
I received support by talking to different spiritual directors. Even though I still did not know where to go I persevered, trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. One day, I found a vocations card of the Franciscans in my father’s bible. I recognised the Vocation Directors name, Br. Pat Lynch. I had come across Br. Pat and the Franciscans when I was researching online. The internet is a big world, but I was always drawn back to the Franciscans when I was researching online. The moment I contacted Brother Pat I found him relaxed and friendly, and very easy to talk too. After a few meetings with him he invited me to a “come and see” weekend in Killarney. I nearly did not turn up to this weekend! This was due to nerves and not knowing what to expect. However, I said I would give it a go, and I have not looked back ever since.
Becoming a Franciscan has been great experience and I have loved every moment of it.
When I arrived in Killarney the one thing that always struck with me was the fraternity among all the brothers. This was for me the greatest moment, and I really felt at home with them all. This of course is not to say it has been easy all the time. In my four years in the order it has been a great journey with all the challenges and support of fraternity life that it brings through each individual brother.
I am now in my fourth year of studies. I am attending Angelicum University in Rome which has introduced me to an even greater sense of the universal Church and the international nature of our order. Saint Francis said that the brothers should always rejoice when they meet one another, and this happens when we see each other on different occasions.
Franciscan joy represents the joy of the Gospel. This is when we gather in the name of Jesus Christ in fraternity and work among the people of God in many different situations. This can take on many expressions: there are friars teaching, ordained priests, counsellors, etc. there are so many ways to work as a friar. This is the main reason why I chose the Franciscans: to be among the people of our society today, bringing the Christian message to everyone we meet, facing the unique challenges of our time. The call is spread the Gospel and life as a friar has given me the opportunity to do this.