‘It occurred to me that the real reason I'd never considered a religious vocation was because up until that point in my life, I’d only ever considered what I wanted to do, not what God wanted me to do.’
I first met the Dominicans when I was a student at Cambridge studying mathematics.
During my final year of study, I lived at the Dominican priory as a member of the Blackfriars Lay Community. Living with the Dominicans was an experience I thoroughly enjoyed, but during this time, it didn’t occur to me that I might have a religious vocation. Given my interest in mathematics and computers, I thought I would be more fulfilled as a software engineer, and so I worked in software engineering for about 4 years.
However, in 2004, my life took a very different turn. The occasion was Good Shepherd Sunday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The BBC had decided to honour the occasion by broadcasting a radio documentary about how religious life in the Catholic Church was in crisis. It was a really depressing documentary about how vocations were plummeting, how the scandals in the Church were putting people off from applying to religious orders, and the documentary bleakly forecast that within a couple of generations, religious life in the UK would be non-existent.
Although at the time, I didn't have the slightest desire to pursue a religious vocation, this 2004 documentary deeply disturbed me. It made me wonder – what would our world be like without priests and religious communities? And then I began to think – could I live a religious life?
It occurred to me that the real reason I'd never considered a religious vocation was because up until that point in my life, I’d only ever considered what I wanted to do, not what God wanted me to do. So I decided the best thing that I could do was to pray about it. So on Vocations Sunday in 2004, I started praying for vocations, and in particular for my own vocation.
And over the next few days, I had what can only be described as a conversion. I went from being totally unaware of having a religious vocation, to believing that religious life could be something truly fulfilling, something that I might love doing.
Since I had fond memories of living in the Dominican Lay Community, the Dominicans seemed like an obvious first choice. Also, its clear mission statement 'preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls' really captured my imagination. I’m now working on a doctorate in the philosophy of physics, and St Thomas Aquinas’s account of the human soul is a continual source of inspiration.