Reflections on my birthday: 2015

My sister Anna was right.

When I had moved from California to Texas in 2010, she had commented that before, I had been going clockwise across the country. Now, I was going counterclockwise. I had thought it would take too long to reach the Pacific Northwest that way. But here I am in Boston, completing a counterclockwise movement to the East. My destination is no longer a place, but a vocation, a purpose for my life.

This year of change stands out more than previous years of change: 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2012. Most of those years had me moving to a new city and adjusting to a newspaper job. 2014 required so much more.

The most positive thing was entering the seminary. Five years after God started dropping hints, I decided to fully explore this vocation to the priesthood. Numerous times, doubts about my capabilities sprouted up. But the core bedrock of peace from this choice always remains.

The most difficult thing was to sell my motorcycle. It was tough to see that 2004 Triumph Bonneville being ridden away without me. My Bonneville and I had been in many adventures and scrapes. Together, we covered 1,000 miles so I could see Anna graduate from Army medical training. I survived the streets of San Francisco on it. But I couldn’t take care of it as I should. People truly appreciate a possession when they give it away so that others may love it and take care of it better.

The second most difficult thing was to end a 12-year career in the newspaper industry.   I have seen many different places and made many friends in the industry. If things were different, I would have stayed in the business forever. But I was slowly burning out and I knew that the Central Desk in Corpus Christi would be my last newspaper job. My last paper to design was a Sunday cover of the Record-Searchlight in Redding. It was an honor to end my Scripps tenure with the paper I had started with.

A recap of the year

Active discernment in late 2013 unfolded into 2014. A year ago, I was making inquiries with various religious orders. One of them was the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. Fathers Timothy Gallagher and Jeremy Paulin responded to my emails. Father Tim encouraged me in my discernment and Father Jeremy sent me information on the order. The Jesuits, Miles Christi and Carmelites sent me books, information and advice.

February and March was spent shifting through information. Some signs were encouraging. Other times I was left in confusion. But God gently guided me along the way. Jesuits, Carmelites and Miles Christi fell away as an option.

April, I visited the Oblates in Boston. I liked the liturgy, the Oblate charism, easy access to the Blessed Sacrament, the quiet in the cloister, and the camaraderie among the Oblates and seminarians. I had to reflect a few weeks before applying for the Oblates.

I spent May and June, assembling all the information in the application. I made a return trip to Boston for psychological exams. July was a chat with the psychologist and a wait for a decision. An acceptance call in the middle of the month began the mad dash to discard most of my stuff and move back East.

The last four months, I learned plenty about myself in community with the Oblates. My flaws are tossed in my face. Buckets of humility were needed to accept criticism and make improvements. I had inspiring conversations with residents at a nursing home. My singing in the liturgy improved. I served at Mass for the first time. I had to adopt new study methods to handle the graduate-level assignments and exams.

Look forward

My short-term goals are to being more social and developing hobbies, such as Toastmasters. It’s too easy to be swallowed up by school. But becoming a priest means developing the whole person.

My long-term goal is to respond with a simple love to wherever the Lord leads me as St. Therese of Lisieux had done with her Little Way. My explanations behind my faith might be elaborate, but my belief and love in Jesus should be simple as a children’s trust in their parents.

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