Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A parting of ways

I'm sharing below an edited version of an email that I just sent to the community at St. Paul's College.


After a lot of prayer and reflection, and input from friends, formators and well-wishers, I have decided to leave the Novitiate.

I've spent a lot of time and energy discerning God's will, and whether, despite significant differences in pastoral styles, understandings of the liturgy, and ecclesiology and theology, I might still be called to ministry with the Paulist Fathers. I have concluded that this is not the case. I've always felt that I needed to put disclaimers on my beliefs and understandings of Church, and that unless I muted my orthodoxy, I would be misunderstood.

I spent a lot of time over Christmas break reflecting on this decision. I felt as if I were trying way too hard to squeeze my foot into an ill-fitting shoe. Having made the decision to leave, the initial feeling was like when one stops trying so hard to squeeze and distort and squirm. The relief was palpable. On Saturday, I made a personal day of prayer and recollection, focusing on God's providence, and committed myself again to trust fully in His guidance for the future. I have a sense of tremendous peace, as well as a lot of elation and excitement for the future, tinged with sadness at leaving a place, and relationships, that are close to me. I certainly hope that many of these relationships can continue to grow, even over a distance.

The priesthood has never been on the table here -- my sense of that call is about as rock solid as can be. I have always felt a strong attraction to pastoral work with people, and the thought has always been that if things didn't work out here, I'll pursue the secular priesthood. And diocese, as well as religious communities, need individuals with an evangelical zeal for souls, something that is at the center of my understanding of my vocation.
[Until my plans for the future are clearer, I will not be sharing these publicly.]

My plan is to pack all my things and leave SPC a week from today. I'll be visiting friends in the area and down South, and then cashing in some more frequent flier miles and heading to India. This in-between time now gives me the opportunity to be present with my family at the one-year death anniversary ceremonies for my father, as well as a seminar in economics that is being organized in his honor at the local University.

I hope that I leave on a positive note, and I humbly ask for your prayers for my vocation and the journey ahead. The Paulists have been, and will continue to remain, in my daily prayers. The day Fr. Hecker is declared a saint will be a day of tremendous rejoicing, not just for the Paulists and the universal Church, but for me as well.

Your brother in Christ,

Humbly begging the intercessions of our Blessed Mother, whose hand I've felt guiding me so powerfully even in recent days, and of St. Paul, whose zeal for souls inspires me and directs me, I commit myself again to trusting in the guiding hand of Providence.

I would appreciate your prayers for the journey ahead.


St. Izzy said...

Safe journeys, G. Cum Jesu eas.

pritcher said...

You will continue to be in my daily prayers, my friend.

For what it's worth, over the last few weeks I've had causes to reflect some on my own spiritual path, especially on how wonderfully God has led me (even before I knew Him or knew that I wanted to know Him) to this place in my life. How necessary all the apparent twists and turns. As you know, Providence leads well.

God bless.

Fr. Andrew said...

God bless you in the coming months and know of my priestly prayers for your decisions on finding a good home.

Walt said...

Good luck, G. When I saw that you were having a day of prayer and reflection the other day, I was curious to see what would follow. Remember, the Diocese of Charleston can always need another good priest. How ironic would it be if you ended up at STM? Godspeed to you.

St. Elizabeth of Cayce said...

Your Saturday post on the peace of God and Monday's post on "enough manna for the day" show that God has given you real peace with this decision, and also with the uncertainties that accompany setting out on a new journey.

God must have amazing plans for you (!!), given the many delays and convolutions in your path to and through priestly formation.

We'll continue to hold you in our prayers, and await God's next revelation of His plan. All our love to you.

Anonymous said...

Good luck and God bless in these coming months. With everything that has been going on in my life these last few weeks, I really didn't know anything about this. You will be in our prayers. Safe travels.

Chris Reid

mike said...

Copied from Facebook:

Thank you for keeping us up to date. I know this must have been a difficult decision for you. Faith and vocations are not fluid and should never be cajoled into what ever shape suits the person. Any one who knows you, has no doubt that your faith and commitment to serving others is rock solid. I know that what ever path you choose will be filled with the holy spirit.

Did I ever tell you, that I think you would look fantastic in a brown habit and sandals.


Susan Rose, CSJP said...

You are in my prayers as you continue your journey. Peace

Dogwood Dell said...

A lot of thought & prayer has been made in your decision.

Best of luck with travels during the transition and know that you are in our prayers.


Anonymous said...

Yes, GG, may your path lead to a greater depth of discernment as God's grace sustains you.


ProverbialMike said...


Sorry to be late in this posting but sorry to hear that you have decided to leave the Paulists but I know God has good things planned for you ahead. As I continue with my own discernment of God's call in my own life, know that you are in my prayers and thoughts.

Much love and the peace of Christ,

Mike Hayes