New Transitional Deacon Reflects on His Final Glenmary Oath
By Deacon Aaron Wessman
"And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times more, and will inherit eternal life."—Mt 19:29
"Thank you for your commitment and for what you are doing."
Once I describe my vocation to Glenmary priesthood to people whom I've met for the first time, this is invariably their reply. I tend to accept this remark graciously, and I am humbled by the kindness of others. People are generally supportive of the path I am taking in life. I think they perceive it to be a great sacrifice, a response to a real need. Perhaps they think, too, that they would never be able to choose the same path. And yet, after my experience of the past several weeks, their words are even more humbling and perhaps difficult to accept.
Seven weeks ago, on May 28, 2011, I made my Final Oath to Glenmary Home Missioners. In front of hundreds of people I read the Glenmary Oath and signed my name, making a lifelong commitment. My decision certainly was not made lightly; it was preceded by years of difficult and intense discernment. Certainly in making this Oath I was being asked to sacrifice much with marriage and a family generally at the top of that list. And yet as the Oath ceremony concluded, the banquet following it came to an end, and my family and friends departed for their homes, I could not help but think: I am receiving so much more than I could ever possibly give over to God, the Church, or the world.
Jesus assures his disciples that those who leave everything and follow him will be rewarded a hundred times over with blessings of every kind. My experience has been that Jesus' words are accurate.
In my years of formation I have encountered family beyond my biological family. I have found dozens of homes away from home. I have encountered vast experiences that I could never have imagined. I have been the recipient of the generosity of so many people. And I have, if I may humbly say, grown closer to God.
I think there is a valid fear associated with pursuing a vocation to the priesthood or religious life. Much will be asked from people who do so. But God will never be outdone in generosity. The blessings that a person receives for courageously answering this kind of call will truly be a hundredfold. In the end, the ultimate blessing is the peace that accompanies knowing that one has discerned the will of God, and as much as is possible, aligned himself or herself with that will.
And this, my friends, is eternal life: fullness of life on earth, and an eternity spent with God and all of his people in Heaven.
This article originally appeared in the July 2011 Vocation Office E-News.
Also see the story on Aaron and Crispine Adongo's transitional diaconate ordinations in Kenya in late June.
For more reflections on seminary life and Glenmary formation read Aaron's blog, Cognitions of a Roman Catholic Missioner.