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A Dominican Vocation

Friday, April 17, 2009
I suppose I must have been about twelve or thirteen when the thought first came to me of giving my life to the service of God in some sort of exciting and radical way; at the time I was an Anglican, and the only way I knew of to do this was to become a clergyman. Such thoughts as these led me to think and find out in more depth about what I believed, and this process of investigation eventually resulted in me deciding to become a Catholic, which I did just as I was leaving school; at the time I wondered whether perhaps it was to the Catholic Church, rather than priesthood, that God had been leading me all along.

My first year at university, however, which was also my first year as a Catholic, led me to conclude that this was not the case. The university chaplaincy provided a place where I could deepen my knowledge of the Faith, and also taught me the joy of belonging to a vibrant Christian community: indeed, some of us spent so much time there, it was almost like a religious community! And during this time, rather than going away, that sense of some sort of vocation to the priesthood became stronger, and, in a context where there were other people thinking about the same thing, it came to seem more realistic too.

So I decided to go and speak to my chaplain, and his first suggestion was to go and take a look at the Dominicans: this was very convenient, because there happens to be a Dominican priory in Cambridge, where I was studying, and a couple of the friars, as well as some Dominican sisters were involved in the chaplaincy. All the Dominicans I met seemed like very interesting people, and at the same time, what I came to learn of the Order appealed to me: the focus on preaching and apostolic work, nourished by a religious life in community, seemed to me like the best of both worlds (an opinion which I, unwittingly at the time, shared with St Thomas Aquinas).

The next step, then, was to get in touch with the Vocations Director, who gave me various things to read about the Order, as well as encouraging me to visit some of the other houses of the province: this only confirmed the impression that I was on to something here. Then, as part of my degree (in modern languages), I had to spend a year in Russia, where I was able to see the Faith being lived in very different surroundings and also, during the time I spent in St Petersburg, to get to know the only Dominican community in Russia.

I returned to England for the final year of my studies fairly sure that I wanted to apply for the Order: I knew this sense of vocation wasn’t going to go away, and if I was wrong, the only way to get rid of it would be to try it out and see it didn’t work, while if I was right, then it would obviously make sense to apply. In either case, there seemed to be no advantage in delay, so I applied for admission that year. After various interviews, I was accepted, receiving the habit the September after I graduated.

A vocation to serve in the Church as a priest or religious is something public, confirmed by the public action of the Church, and so I can only be sure of it when, if it is indeed God’s will, the Provincial receives my solemn profession and, later, the Bishop lays on his hands in ordination: in the meantime, I’m praying that God will indeed grant me this grace, because so far I’ve absolutely loved being a Dominican. Please pray for me too!

Br Gregory Pearson is a first year student.

Gregory Pearson


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