‘He spoke of the Order’s motto Veritas (Truth) and the vocation to study the Truth and to pass it on through preaching. The Dominicans are the ‘Order of Preachers’, and that was it: I was hooked.’
It was a series of niggling questions that brought me to the Dominican Order.
As a university student, when the so-called New Atheism was causing heated debates both in public and in private, I started to realise how un-Christian our society had become. Many of my friends knew almost nothing about Jesus, crucified, risen, glorified. They weren’t alive to the urgent question that had bothered St Thomas Aquinas: ‘Who is God?’
For me, other questions started to pile up. How can I tell others about Jesus? Help them (re)discover God? How can I serve the Church more concretely? Perhaps as a priest?
I was blessed to have grown up in a loving, Christian family, but many aspects of my upbringing now took on a new meaning. Looking both backwards and forwards, I sensed more clearly what God had done in my life, what he was doing, and what he might be calling me to do. Not all my youthful dreams would be realised, however, as I’d always imagined I would get married and have lots of children!
Sharing my inklings with a few close confidants sharpened the search for me.
What about the religious orders? For someone who loves to learn, what about the ‘intellectual’ orders, the Dominicans and the Jesuits? Well, there were Dominicans in my university town, so I had a first chat with a friar there. He spoke of the Order’s motto Veritas (Truth) and the vocation to study the Truth and to pass it on through preaching. The Dominicans are the ‘Order of Preachers’, and that was it: I was hooked. I never went to see the Jesuits.
Thus my actual vocational path owed a lot to the Order’s ideal, Veritas, and that other motto of ours: Contemplari et contemplata aliis tradere, to contemplate and to hand on to others the fruits of our contemplation. But I needed to hear that ideal from a real Dominican friar and to continue my interactions in concrete ways: attending Vespers at my local Dominican priory; reading books by Dominicans; and eventually applying to join the Dominican Volunteers International programme for a year of service in the Philippines.
Now, of course, it’s not only the Order’s ideal that continues to get me out of bed in the morning. It’s also the concrete reality I now inhabit: the brethren I live with, the people I serve in my ministries as a priest and friar, as well as the questions I pursue in my studies, and always the truth of Jesus Christ that I try to share in my preaching.