I got to know the Resurrectionists while attending the University of Guelph. We had weekly Eucharistic Adoration on campus, and sometimes this one Resurrectionist priest would be the one to bring the Blessed Sacrament, and heard confessions. He also helped out with our annual retreat and some other events. I had a conversion experience in my very first year at Guelph, and Jesus Christ gradually began to play a bigger role in my life. While all this was happening, the Catholic campus minister asked me if I had ever thought about becoming a priest. I quickly dismissed the idea, but it wouldn’t quite go away: “what if God was calling me to be a priest?”
My vocation developed slowly over the next few years, and after graduation, I entered the philosophy program at St. Philip’s Seminary, as a seminarian for the Diocese of Hamilton. In the summer after my first year of theology at St. Augustine’s Seminary, the question of religious life came up in spiritual direction. I wondered if perhaps God was asking something different of me. Like my discernment of the priesthood, I had to “discern with my feet” and take some concrete steps. After one more semester at St. Augustine’s, I met with the Bishop of Hamilton, and left seminary to enter the pre-novitiate with the Resurrectionists.
It is difficult to describe consecrate life for men, because from the outside, it seems so similar to the priesthood. And what’s more confusing, is that there are some men in consecrated life who are also priests! But fundamentally, the identity of a religious is in their vows. Everyone is called to holiness, and everyone does that by following Jesus Christ and giving ourselves away. But there are different ways of making that total self-gift, and the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience are one mysterious, divinely instituted way of doing so, recognized by the Church. The charism of any religious community is comprised of both their spirituality and mission. The spirituality of the Resurrectionists is about being conformed to the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, and our mission is the resurrection of society through that. When I first encountered it in the writings of our founders, my reactions were: “this is the truth!”, and “this was made for me!” Since then, the charism has continued to, and I hope, will continue to form me into a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Raphael Ma C.R.