One at a time, each candidate knelt before Fr. Joseph Roesch, MIC, the Marians’ vicar general, and professed vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience and promised to live in conformity with Constitution of the Marian Fathers. After hearing each profession, Fr. Joe responded, “By virtue of the power admitted to me in the name of the holy Church, I accept the vows professed by you dear brothers.”
At that moment, Juan, Stephen, Mark, and Seamus became Br. Juan Arroyo, MIC, Br. Stephen Camara, MIC, Br. Mark Fanders, MIC, and Br. Seamus Kettner, MIC.
Each were then presented with black clerics, which symbolizes their commitment to these radical vows. Midway through the Mass, they changed out of their Oxford shirts and ties and into their new cassocks and white collars.
These temporary vows will enable them to experience what life for a perpetually professed Marian feels like. Over the next year, they will continue to discern their future with the Congregation in the hopes that they will one day make these temporary vows permanent.
Twenty Marian priests concelebrated this Mass in which an additional 12 men in formation renewed their vows, inching closer to becoming permanent members of the Congregation themselves.
In his homily, the Very Rev. Fr. Kaz Chwalek, MIC, provincial superior said, “Human life is something that slowly progresses, we accept more and more. [Not] everyone ends taking a perpetual commitment — it’s a discernment process.”
Next year they will decide whether or not to renew their vows and continue with the process of becoming a Marian priest or brother.
Prior to today, these men were considered novices — not brothers. They spent the last year together in novitiate, receiving instruction, academic and spiritual, in preparation for these vows.
Even though they did not have the title of “brother” until Aug. 15, they already feel like brothers.
“It’s beyond a superficial friendship,” said Br. Seamus. “These are all brothers and fathers here, but those three brothers walked the walk with me in the dessert … for 366 days [of our novitiate].”
These men have gone through similar experiences over this past year in novitiate and will now continue to share so many things in common through the vow of poverty.
Each one, though, has unique talents to offer, said Fr. Jim McCormick, MIC, the prefect of formation at the Marian Scholasticate in Washington, D.C. Brother Stephen, for example, composed one of the hymns sung at today’s liturgy. Brother Mark Fanders has a talent for photography and takes pictures for the Marians’ publications.
But what enables them to live as brothers is what they share in common: a love for the Eucharist and a devotion to Our Lady. These devotions have helped them make this heroic commitment of faith, said to Fr. Jim. He said, “They are willing make a radical sacrifice, and they have sensed that [taking these vows] are the greatest things they can do for our Lord and Our Lady.”
After the Mass, Fr. Kaz, said that, in addition to having a great devotion to Our Lady, many of these men that professed vows today wanted to join the Marians because of the Divine Mercy message. Several have had a profound conversion where they experience God’s mercy in their lives.
“Many young people who have joined us had to go through some conversion,” Fr. Kaz. “They actually experience His mercy, and here’s a group [the Marians] that do what we wish to do because we want to do something for Him.”
He went on to say that being sinful and broken should not be a deterrent to a vocation. In fact, those could be the very factors through which God calls men into formation. This world today has many prodigals, but thanks to God’s mercy, we can always come back to Him.
Father Kaz continued, “No matter where we are or how far we have gone, no matter what has happened in terms of difficulties, somehow the Lord with that message of his tender care that I love you and care for you … you can get up and come back [and he will welcome] you like the prodigal.”