“Before jumping off of a cliff, it’s nice to be able to take a little peak from a small rock jetting out.” Br Bernardo Ross nLC
Br Bernanrdo Ross nLC: The first time I thought about the priesthood was in middle school but quickly ran away from the idea both mentally and through my actions. Although somewhat exteriorly seeming pious, I led a different lifestyle. I could never really shake the nagging but “illogical” thought of being a priest. Throughout college, and after returning to the faith it became clear to me that God at least wanted me to check out this possibility and all the “world’s” advice had ever done was leave me feeling empty and unfulfilled, So I jumped!
In elementary and high school I attended a few Conquest retreats, but it wasn’t until college after my conversion back to the faith that I became involved in leading Conquest and worked as Father Michael’s right hand man for almost three years.
In terms of actual real consideration, I wrestled with the question for 3 years in college. Wrestling (As opposed to discerning, which I am obviously still doing) probably ended around the time I began the fill out the application for Candidacy. The wrestling match sparked up again towards the end of Candidacy. The most important factor was the idea of “giving God a shot”. I couldn’t shake the idea (thinking I was just crazy or had spiritual problems) that God was calling me to be a priest.
The fact that Candidacy was only about two months long really helped me in the initial “jump”. It was much easier to commit to one summer to “try it out” than to have to make a decision at that stage of my life that would affect the next few years. Before jumping off of a cliff, it’s nice to be able to take a little peak from a small rock jetting out. Seeing that other young men were doing it with man, i.e. the brothers I had made that summer. Also, I saw it, at the very least, as being a time when I would be formed more as a man. The human formation of the Legionary priests I knew and their manly, warrior character was something I wanted to have.
Ultimately it was an act of trust in God, knowing (rather hoping) that He wouldn’t let me down and that he had some sort of mysterious plan.
“I knew God wanted me here. I knew that even if, in the end, I was to not profess, it the Novitiate would be a good experience of living with Christ that would help me for the rest of my life.” Br John Frain nLC
I grew up in the Regnum Christ movement, went to a Legionary school from Pre-K to 12th grade and I was in Conquest. I incorporated into ECYD when I was 11, and incorporated into Regnum Christi at the end of 10th grade. I have always been around Legionary priests and brothers and they were the only priests I ever really knew personally.
I always thought about [the priesthood] since I was a little kid. I started considering it as a real possibility somewhere around 8th -10th grade. I seriously wrestled with it around the middle of senior year. I stopped wrestling with it and was at peace with my decision to come to Candidacy roughly a month after the Christmas TYC.
I had visited Cheshire three times. First for the GPS Retreat in 9th Grade, then for another retreat in 10th grade, and finally for the TYC Retreat in 12th Grade, all three times during the Christmas Octave. Visiting Cheshire was extremely important. I would not be here if I hadn’t visited. Also, having the option for a retreat that wasn’t TYC in 9th and 10th grade was super important because I would not have gone to a TYC at that time, but if I hadn’t visited those times I don’t think I would have come for the TYC senior year.
Regarding Candidacy, I seriously felt that God wanted me to come to Candidacy and knew that if I didn’t stay for Novitiate I could do a RCMC mission year and go to Georgia Tech the next year because I had deferred my admission. Novitiate – I knew God wanted me here. Knew that even if, in the end, I were to not profess, it would be a good experience of living with Christ that would help me for the rest of my life.
“These visits to Cheshire had a big impact on me, especially the first visit. I visited a diocesan seminary as well, but the experience was not nearly as moving as my experience in Cheshire, and that is what helped me decide to enter the Legion.” Br Hunter Winans nLC
My first experience with a Legionary priest was on the campus of Texas A & M University, where I was attending college. After meeting Fr Michael Sullivan at St. Mary’s, I began assisting with Conquest where I helped run camps and retreats for middle school boys. I also had regular spiritual direction with Fr Michael during that time.
My first visit to Cheshire was that spring. Not too long after visiting Cheshire, I began my Regnum Christi Mission Year. For that year, I lived in community with the Legionaries in Mandeville, LA. During my mission year, I learned what living in a religious community was really like. I also experienced working in apostolate and all aspects of life as a Legionary.
Eventually, I visited Cheshire two more times; once for Spiritual Exercises and again at Easter. These visits to Cheshire had a big impact on me, especially the first visit. Overall, my experiences in Cheshire were very moving, and that is what helped me decide to enter the Legion. My devotion to Mary and regular spiritual direction were also very important factors.
I didn’t ever really “wrestle” with the question of being called to further explore the priesthood. I knew I was following God’s will and as soon as it became clear to enter candidacy, I knew I was going to do it. Of course there was a struggle giving up certain things in life, but I knew I had to do it.
“To be honest, it was the sense that in no other place I felt as much at home as I did in Cheshire amongst the Brothers and the Fathers. It also had to do with the fact that I could really relate to the mission entrusted to the Legionaries.” Br José Fermín Rangel, nLC
My first with the Legion was through the radio and TV station that the Legionaries coordinate in El Monte CA. I had visited with them several times and kept in touch with the Legionary in charge of that apostolate.
For about three years, I wrestled with the idea of the priesthood. I finally visited Cheshire for Christmas of 2014. The visit in itself was really important. While the food was not good, the heater had broken down and we had to take cold icy showers in the midst of a really cold winter (especially coming from California), I felt that here is where God is calling me to be at the moment. I feel at peace and at home.
As I discerned if I should return for the summer, I had an overwhelming sense that no other place felt as much like home as Cheshire, amongst the Brothers and the Fathers. It also had to do with the fact that I could really relate to the mission entrusted to the Legionaries. Not to mention the adventure of giving my life for something worth fighting for, that was Candidacy.
That’s not to say that I don’t still wrestle with my vocational call. To be honest, I still wrestle with it sometimes, but if God has not called me somewhere else it is because my vocation to religious life might be here. I have reassurance with the help of my spiritual director that God has prepared the way for me until this point in my life where I have decided how to respond to the offering God was giving me.
“I was very worldly, yet I had this strange desire to be a priest. I couldn’t figure it out. It was when I left college abruptly and came home that I decided to act on this “instinctual desire” for the first time in my life. I didn’t want to regret not trying.” Br Brendan Crowe, nLC
The first Legionary that I met was Fr Martin Connor when he was stationed in Ireland. I was 11 years old. Fr Connor visited my parents a few times and left a huge impression on the both of them and myself. They decided to send me to an ECYD camp shortly after that, and there I met Fr Fergal O’Duill. Through Fr Fergal’s living the charism and the other Legionaries that I encountered there, I came to be attracted to it. I was meant for it.
From that first encounter, I attended camps in Dublin, Termini, and Palma de Mallorca until I was around 17. During the early days, I can clearly remember desiring to be a part of the Legion, I even recall mentioning the Apostolic school to my mother after chatting with Br Dain Scherber, then a novice. She wasn’t too fond of the idea. I continued with these camps until my last year of high-school and the idea of being a Legionary priest no longer became an “option.” I had become a man of the world. I tried to forget about it and make myself believe that I didn’t have a call. But I did.
I have met many Legionaries over the years, but the ones that probably had the biggest role in my coming here are Fr Fergal O’Duill and Br Jonathon Flemings. Fr Fergal has known me since I was a wee boy and accompanied me until I left for candidacy. He did not believe that I had a vocation to be honest, though I gave him good reason to think so. As I got older I became more and more ensnared in the ways of the world.
During my year at college in Rome, through another student, I got involved with the Legion again. I met Br Jonathon whom I had briefly met when I was a child. He invited me for soccer and dinner. I later met Br Michael Baggot and introduced him to my Philosophy Professor, Dr Caitlin Gilson. It was then that being exposed to the charism, and the example of the brothers, that my love for the Legion was rekindled. Br Jonathon’s regular contact with me was pivotal in my decision. He kept in contact with me throughout college and even after. I could tell that he cared; he had a real priestly heart. The accompaniment was essential from both him and Fr Fergal.
Throughout my teenage years I wrestled with it I guess, but it was in Rome that it really started to get intense. I was very worldly, yet I had this strange desire to be a priest. I couldn’t figure it out. It was when I left college abruptly and came home that I decided to act on this “instinctual desire” for the first time in my life. I didn’t want to regret not trying.
The most important factor was that I knew deep down that Christ wanted me here, and that I myself wanted to be Legionary – more than anything! Then in Candidacy, the desire to join the Novitiate was intensified. I simply knew that I was meant to join. I wanted to, and so, under the guidance of Fr Edward, I took that as a very sure sign that God called me.
“The discernment question for me was always: priesthood or married? I still had no idea what God wanted, but when I heard about Candidacy it was God dropping the answer in my lap through Fr. John Curran to at least give this one summer.” Br Gregory Metz, nLC
I grew up attending Pinecrest Academy, a Legionary school in Cumming, GA, spending some of my most important time with Legionary priests and brothers in Spiritual dialogue, altar serving, ECYD retreats and summer conventions, hiking trips to the mountains, Conquest, and on into ECYD Mission Corps, Mexico trips, and then Regnum Christi. My family first met the Legion over 20 years ago (I’m 19) and I recall my first encounter with a Legionary being Fr. Eamon Shelley. We began meeting for advisory when I was in 3rd or 4th grade.
Along the way, I encountered many Legionaries. Fr. Dominic Pham had a great impact in my younger years (grades 3-9th). Another important figure was a Legionary brother who was my Confirmation sponsor during middle school. Lastly Fr. Timothy Moran was huge for my high school spiritual life and discernment. He helped me overcome sins and grow in Regnum Christi, really taking over after Fr. Dominic as my closest LC priest.
Before the summer candidacy, I visited Cheshire every year of high school at Christmas time (four times). Here, I truly experienced Christ. Here I made true friends, broke sins, rekindled vigor and saw that it might possibly be the place for me. I stayed in close contact with my Confirmation sponsor, my RC team at home and Fr Timothy.
The discernment question for me was always: priesthood or married? It began in 4th grade and had guidance and battles of prayer until I finally found out the Candidacy. Senior year at Christmas I still had no idea what God wanted, but when I heard about Candidacy it was God dropping the answer in my lap through Fr. John Curran to at least give this one summer.
My discernment has been a step by step process and still is. I have always been attracted to the priesthood, not as much the seminary. While the biggest moments were clear signs in spiritual direction and prayer, usually of the one immediate step God wanted me to take, I am still on this same road.