The perpetual profession of vows, also known as making final vows, is the final stage in joining a religious congregation. Three Marian brothers have now taken that “last step” with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception: Br. Ryan Asensio, MIC; Br. Patrick Lynch, MIC; and Br. Alexander Pumphrey, MIC.
Brother Patrick’s profession took place on Dec. 8, 2023, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, at the Mother of Mercy Parish in Avellaneda, Argentina.
The perpetual professions of Br. Ryan and Br. Alexander took place at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, on Dec. 16, 2023.
Brothers Alexander, Patrick, and Ryan have pledged to perpetually live “in conformity to the life of Christ, who was poor, chaste, and obedient,” taking vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. Each signed an official document containing his vows, thus becoming a full member of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The vows constitute a permanent promise made public. Each will also receive the white habit, newly restored to the Marian Congregation.
For each man, perpetual profession marks a significant milestone in his vocational journey which will proceed, God willing, on to ordination as a transitional deacon and then a priest.
Brother Patrick Lynch, MIC
Brother Patrick, 27, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, one of six children of Denise and Griff Lynch. “My siblings and I were raised in a very devout Catholic family, but I was not really interested in my faith very much until I was about 13 or 14,” he admits. “At that time in my life I had a real conversion of heart and wanted to learn about God.”
Thanks to his Mom’s suggestion, Patrick began studying the Baltimore Catechism, famous for its question-and-answer format (“Why did God make me?” “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.”).
“Catholicism is fascinating when it is presented well, and I was captivated by what I was learning through my study of the Baltimore Catechism and other books,” Br. Patrick relates. “I also began reading the lives of the saints, and that was my first real exposure to the vocation to religious life.”
When he was 19 a friend invited Patrick and his Dad to make a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy. “Father Timothy Childers, who was then a seminarian, gave us a wonderful tour and told us about the charism of the Marians,” he recalls. He got in touch with Fr. Calloway, attended a “Come & See” retreat, and entered the program in 2017.
A linguist, Br. Patrick worked on the multi-year project translating the writings of St. Stanislaus Papczyński, Founder of the Marians. In 2022, he was sent to live at the Marian house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he is currently studying theology.
“In God’s Providence, I am taking my perpetual vows in the same month that one of my sisters is getting married,” Br. Patrick notes. “It has been a beautiful gift for me to reflect on the vows we are each going to make this month, and how they are different but alike. Both involve the entrusting of ourselves to another in love, and both involve a whole lot of faith. Neither of us know what the road ahead will bring, but we take this step in confidence because we trust the one we will be walking with. Jesus has been so merciful to me in my life, and come what may, I trust Him to bring to completion the good work He has begun in me.”
Brother Ryan Asensio, MIC, writes:
I had the privilege of travelling down to Argentina assisting with the vows of my confrère, Br. Patrick Lynch, on Dec. 8. Part of the reason for my trip was to show the U.S. province’s support for his vows, but I was also entrusted with bringing Br. Patrick his white habit, the prayer cards for his perpetual profession, a relic of our Father Founder, and several other items. (That meant I had one whole suitcase’s worth of space to bring back yerba mate, dulce de leche, and alfajores!)
Having intermediate Spanish proficiency, the language barrier wasn’t too difficult. It was a pleasure to get the know some of the Argentinian Marians from our two houses — one in the Buenos Aires metropolitan area and the other in Rosario, about a three-hour drive away. The pace of life was very different down there, but it was still marked by our distinctive Marian character. I felt quite at home praying the Rosary with the confrères and helping prepare some of the meals.
Serving as the MC for Br. Patrick’s perpetual vows, I was able to be involved in putting the various pieces of the liturgy together. Despite my Spanish limitations, the ceremony went smoothly and was, in fact, quite beautiful. I could tell that Br. Patrick was very much loved by the community by their warmth and generosity. At the reception, I met many parishioners who fondly recalled other Marians who have had a presence in that parish. Seeing the fruits of our labors gave me much joy.
In just a few days, I will be professing my own perpetual vows in Stockbridge. Being down in Argentina to support Br. Patrick’s vows was an unexpected but wonderful preparation.
Gracias a todo por la hospitalidad, y Viva Maria!
Brother Ryan Asensio, MIC
Brother Ryan, 31, grew up in Lisle, Illinois. He studied engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, and worked as an engineer for a while before starting a small apparel company. At 23, rootless and unhappy, he had a conversion.
“I never really looked back,” he admits. “I had nothing to lose. I had no friends, no sense of purpose in life, not much money or a career.”
He began discerning a vocation to the priesthood, first with a group of missionary priests. He then lived like a monk for a year, first in California and then on a hazelnut farm in Oregon. It was there that he learned about the Marians, and made contact with Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC, vocation director. A “Come & See” retreat followed.
“In 2020 I was on an epic bicycle pilgrimage from Fatima, Portugal, to Milan, Italy, when I found out I was accepted by the Marians,” he recalled. “It has transformed my life. I have come to love the Immaculate Conception and the way that we share in it – being preserved from sin, not because of our merit. Learning that God is my Father, and that He never abandons me. I’ve received great graces, and I am excited to share them.”
Currently based in Stockbridge, Br. Ryan enjoys writing and making videos for the Marian Helpers Center, and is working on a book about St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the “Little Flower.” He cooks for the Marians on Fridays. “The guys seem to enjoy it,” he says.
“Making perpetual vows (below) is a great gift from God,” Br. Ryan concludes. “It is a promise of fidelity, Him to me and me to Him. But He is the one who is going to have to help me be faithful. So really, it’s all Him!”
Brother Alexander Pumphrey, MIC
“I come from a very eclectic family of four in Atlanta, Georgia,” Br. Alexander, 30, admits. “My Mom’s side is a patchwork quilt of spiritualities and religions: Jewish, Lutheran, Catholic, Episcopalian, and Taoist/Buddhist. My Dad’s side is staunchly Episcopalian. In fact, several of my family members are Episcopal priests, including my grandfather and my Dad.”
He credits his father, Tom, with having the biggest impact on his spiritual life. “Dad modeled for me what it meant to be faithful to God, to love Scripture and prayer, and how to pursue a life of quiet and humble holiness.”
Brother Alexander felt the call to priesthood as a sophomore in college. “I wanted to follow in the holy footsteps of my family members and serve as an Episcopal priest, but was told I was ‘too Catholic’ and too young,” he recalls. While he was working at Cristo Rey Atlanta Jesuit High School, his Catholic roommate prompted him to join the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA).
“I knew that God wanted me to become Catholic,” he says. “Even before I joined the Church, I knew God was calling me to serve Him as a priest and religious, so I went to the one place where everyone goes to search for the answers to life’s biggest and deepest questions: the Internet. I looked around and discovered the Marians.”
Brother Alexander found the Marian charism of praying for the dead and dying especially compelling. “That really spoke to me,” he says. “It’s also a part of the Anglican tradition in which I grew up and has always been close to my heart.” Following a “Come & See” retreat, Br. Alexander joined the Marians in 2018.
“Seminary has not been easy for me,” he admits, “and I struggle with classes, schoolwork and studies. But God’s grace has been my constant help and strength during my time of trial. I’m not sure what Jesus has in store for me next, but my prayer is that I will always remain humble enough to listen to His voice and courageous enough to answer His call.”
In his homily at Mass (below), the Very Rev. Chris Alar, MIC, paid special tribute to his predecessor as provincial superior, Fr. Kazimierz “Kaz” Chwalek, MIC, who inspired so many fine vocations.
“This is truly a very special day,” Fr. Chris said. “As I look at Brother Alex and Brother Ryan, my heart just brims with joy, for several reasons. First of all, for their fiats. Thank you for saying ‘Yes’ to God and to His call. But also for the Church, for the gift they have given to their families and to our Congregation. We are blessed as Marians to be able to have men such as Alex and Ryan coming forward to do God’s work. The Church needs good men, and we have been forming these men, and as you can see they are great men. Their demeanor, their love of God, and their love of brother are commendable and will in an even greater level be joined to our community.”