Your Kingdom Come!
Only after a long struggle….
“God, please, tell me that I will not become a priest.” After asking Him this favour, alone in my room,I took the New Testament they had given me at school. I opened it, and my finger fell upon a verse saying that one day I would leave everything and follow Him…
I come from a non- practicing Catholic family- with the exception of my dad who never stopped going to Sunday Mass. Just like most other Canadian boys, I started to play hockey when I was three years old and was dreaming of a professional hockey career, as it had been offered to my grandfather. I have two younger sisters who also liked sports and parties, maybe after the example of their older brother…
The first call I felt was when I was 12 years old. Two seminarians came to my religion class – even though it was a public school – and gave a testimony on how they had felt the call to the priesthood and left all they had to follow it. “If they can finish that talk as soon as possible and go home” was the kind of thought I had, as I was listening them and watching my friends enjoying it and following it with great interest. The reason for that rebellious attitude was that I strongly felt that one day I would have to do like them, and I just didn’t want to become a priest. I could see all my dreams fading away…
Two years later, I had to go through a similar experience. This time they were not seminarians, but two nuns. As they were telling us how they felt the call, answered it and were happy of having done so. Once again I felt that God was calling me to become – not a nun – but a priest! I was looking at my watch and hoping the minute hand would move faster…What I wanted to do in life was to earn a lot of money, have a lot of fun, and after all of that, get married.
Couple months after that last internal experience, I told God one thing: “God, please, tell me that I will not become a priest.” Right after asking Him this favour, alone in my room, I took the New Testament they had given me at school, I opened it, and felt on a verse saying that one day I would leave everything and follow Him. I instantaneously put the Bible back on my desk and through myself on my bed in a sign of despair. It was like if there was no way to escape from this call. But then God gave me a break and I forgot about it for almost 2 years.
As I said at the beginning, I come from a non-practicing Catholic family, which means I would not go to Mass more than twice a year, unless there would be a baptism or a funeral; that’s how it was until summer 1996…
One night at the end of June of that year, after watching a movie with couple friends, my dad arrived at home. Once my friends had left, my dad spoke to me about the conference he had went to in Québec City. In short, the speaker was an older married woman with a mission similar to that of Saint Brother André who founded the St Joseph Oratory in Montréal, and a lot of favours – including miracles – were granted by God through her. That sounded very interesting to me as my ‘philosophy of religion’ was the following: “I will not believe in God, or at least not give him an important place in my life, unless I see miracles”. So the next day, I went to the same conference she was giving again, and there started my conversion…I started summer 1996 as a young man who goes to Mass twice a year and ended it going to Mass every Sunday. God had also my parents and sisters go through similar spiritual growth, each one at his/her own time and way.
And the winner is…
After what I call my conversion – for really one is always in a process of conversion, which means giving more and more place to God in one’s own life – the idea of the priesthood came back. Even though I was now closer to God, I still did not want to become a priest. Certainly my dreams in life were more Christian, but becoming a priest was still too much for me.
In April 1997, after 7 or 8 months of resisting God’s new invitation to become a priest, I was praying the rosary alone in my room, keeling before an image of Mary. As I was praying with great fervor, I was thinking: “If God is all love, all powerful and wants the best for me, and He wants me to become a priest, it probably because it would be the best for me. Then, I accept.” As I opened my eyes, I saw tears running under both of Mary’s eyes. I instantaneously brought the image to my dad who was up in his room, and showed it to him. He saw the tears, touched them, and agreed with me that a special favour had been granted by God…That was the first time I accepted God’s invitation to the priesthood, and through Mary, He showed me His support.
Then the summer of 1997 came along, and my summer lawn mowing enterprise was up and growing once again. I thought it was the perfect student’s job since one makes his own schedule, gets to meet different persons and earns good money for a student. That summer, one of my clients actually wanted to present me to her younger daughter who was my age, and whom I found very nice and attractive. The desire to meet her was strong, but at the same time my heart was burning even more intensively for the priesthood. Thus, out of a great act of virtue and desire to do God’s will, overcoming my sentiments, I declined the offer. It was only the first of many refusals I would have to do until next summer.
In December of that same year, I was at a youth activity organized by a new charismatic community. During the moment of adoration, something strange came to me; I definitely wanted to become a priest, but I thought God had changed his mind. After years of resisting to His call and finally accepting it, God would not want it anymore? In the midst of that confusion, I told God , “If you still want me to become a priest, please give me a sign." Then the nun guiding the activity said, “each one of us, one after the other, will pick a piece of paper with an intention written on it, and will pray for it during Christmas holidays.” Each one would go by the exposed Blessed Sacrament, pick up a piece of paper in the little basket, unfold it and read out load the intention. Each paper had a different intention. When I picked mine up, I opened it, and read out loud what was written: “priests!”. It sounded like God still wanted me to become a priest.
Coup de foudre...
On June 22nd 1998, I met Legionaries of Christ for the first time. A very good friend of mine – who helped me in my path of conversion – had formed in me a great esteem for them and had introduced me to them. So as they were talking to me about the Congregation, about their work with youth and families, and about their wide variety of apostolates, it was clear to me that I did not have to search anymore; it was there that God wanted me to go to become a priest.
After a long night – I could not sleep, trying to find a way to go to the vocational discerning program despite my summer enterprise – the next morning I got up and told my parents I should go spent the summer there to see if it was my place. It was a big news for my parents, especially since I had never spoken to them about this calling to the priesthood. Nevertheless, having received the gift of faith and being generous with God, they accepted.
Three days later, I called one of my aunts, a devoted Catholic, to ask her for her prayers. As I told her about my plans of going to the summer discerning program, she told me: “Ah, now I understand.” “You understand what,” I asked. She replied, “Since the 22nd at night, at different moments of the day and night I have had the strong intuition that you need prayers…So I go to Mass, I pray for you; I pray my rosary, offer it for you; I wake up at night, I pray for you…”. Sure enough, I really needed these prayers giving me the strength to leave everything behind and follow Christ.
So, on July 1st, one week after that first encounter, my family was bringing me to the first Legionary house in Canada as I was to discern if God still wanted me to become a priest. The conclusion was “yes”.
Fathers Pierre and Thomas and Camp Leaders at Camp Brébeuf 2016
A note from Father, after the Leaders of Challenge Clubs in Saskatoon and Milton and their parents participated in a July 2016 pilgrimage to Québec City and environs, and Montréal:
"It was a blessing for me to be part of this spiritual adventure as we discovered those saints from our own country and to receive from this shower of graces! And thank you so much for your prayers – they touch the heart of Christ and keep attracting many gracesJ
I also pray for the spiritual fruits, so that the seeds planted will keep growing.
May Our heavenly Mother keep all those pilgrims very close to her Son!"
Father Pierre and Leaders from Challenge Milton and Saskatoon at the evening reflection after a busy day of visiting shrines and chapels in Montréal. From their pilgrimage in July 2016.
Father Pierre gave a talk to moms and dads, on Nov. 17 at the Milton Challenge Club meeting. He spoke on the challenges and blessings of raising millenials (called Y i's).
Here is a summary of his talk and reflections:
Today’s youth has the typical youthful enthusiasm along with noble desires to change and improve the world around them – and technology offers them new tools for that end. At the same time they face challenges old and new such as the danger of feeling overwhelmed, being overprotected and being cut from previous generations. Part of the solution is to have parents, mentors, teachers and other adults guiding them, challenging them and accompanying them in their journey toward adulthood. This way our they will give our youth the tools which will serve them for life and one day they will be infinitely grateful.
Wherever we are, Father Pierre is there too, teaching, praying, eating, playing, listening, giving us and leading us to Jesus Christ.
Thank you Father Pierre!!!