Five Friars: Fr. Timothy MacDonald, SA, Br. Gerard Hand, SA, Br. Daniel Houde, SA, Br. Louis Marek, SA, and Br. Savio McNeice, SA (not pictured) celebrated their Diamond Jubilee in 2018!  Although Br. Savio passed into eternal life on Sunday, June 10, 2018, the Friars recognized and celebrated him for his years of service to the mission of “At-One-Ment.”  As these men celebrate 60 years of religious life, we honor their commitment to the Lord, which helps us to examine the true meaning of “vocation.”

In secular terms, a vocation is an occupation that someone is particularly suitable for or equipped to do. The truth is that a vocation is something God calls you to do and work that He will prepare you to do. It is a calling of purpose designed for His glory. As Catholics, we often use this term when referring to someone entering the priesthood or consecrated life, but in reality each of us has a vocational calling. For example, making a commitment to either married life or life as a single person could both be considered vocations.

Even in the best of circumstances, discerning one’s vocation can be confusing and challenging. That is why the Diamond Jubilee is particularly worth celebrating. Our Jubilarians came from various backgrounds, but all discerned religious life at a relatively young age. While God has a unique call for each person, and makes it known to him or her at varying ages and stages in life, there is something beautiful about deciding to serve the Church at a young age.

Fr. Tim MacDonald, SA, Fr. Brian Terry, SA and Br. Daniel Houde, SA.

Fr. Timothy MacDonald could never have known where life as a Franciscan Friar would take him, but it certainly has been fulfilling. In 1986, he was appointed Rector of Chiesa di Sant’Onofrio al Gianicolo, Rome and Procurator General to the Holy See. Eventually becoming the Friars’ Vicar General from 2009-2014, Fr. Timothy is a good example of how taking a leap of faith can take you places you never would have otherwise experienced.

Br. Gerard Hand, SA shared, “Everything changes. There’s no way to prevent change… The changes happen, so look for the good in people. Be happy in the accomplishment of just helping people.” A sentiment that has guided him in his 60 years of service to several of the Friars ministries throughout New York and London.

Br. Daniel Houde, SA was only 19 when he came to Graymoor, but he felt a calling to religious life even earlier, during his sophomore year of high school. “It has to be a calling because it’s not a career. I have had so many jobs in this community. The job doesn’t define you- God defines you. Vocation is a mystery,” says Br. Daniel. But just like any other calling, there are no guarantees for smooth sailing, and we don’t get a glimpse into God’s plan, so we have to continually step out in faith. “When I get up every morning I have to recommit myself to what I do,” he added.

Br. Louis Marek is proof that you can make a big impact when you commit all your work to God and His Church. Br. Louis has done everything from working as a trade school business teacher to serving in parochial ministry. Having served the future of the Church as a CCD teacher, as well as a Pilgrimage Director, leading adults through incredible spiritual experiences, Br. Louis might never have guessed that God would have used him in such a beautiful way.

These young men had no knowledge of what the world would look like 40, 50, or 60 years later, but they knew that God was going to lead them. Trusting in God’s provision may be the most important part of discernment, no matter the type of vocation.

The lives of these men remind us that whatever you do- whether you pursue education, serve on your parish council, work on Wall Street, or learn a trade- live out Colossians 3:23 “Whatsoever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men.”