God’s Generosity: Men Accepted for the 2015 Novitiate

Men accepted for the 2015 Novitiate
The Dominican Province of St. Joseph is grateful to God for these men who have been accepted for the 2015 Novitiate class.  They will begin their novitiate on the feast of St. Dominic on August 8, 2015 in St. Gertrude Priory in Cincinnati.  Please pray for them!
Eric – Florida, studied at the University of Pennsylvania (clerical brother candidate)
age: 35
inspirational saint: St. Joseph
My parents raised me and my older brother in an evangelical Christian community in Clearwater, Florida.  I am grateful to my parents for imparting to me a love of study and a personal relationship with Christ.
When I moved to Philadelphia for college, I attempted to find a church similar to the one in which I was brought up, with limited success.  A friend’s invitation to join his family for the Easter vigil ignited my interest in Catholicism.  The Mass was surprisingly peaceful, and I began to attend Mass without receiving communion.
Following college, I pursued studies in medicine.  One of my roommates, a well-catechized practicing Catholic, underwent several trials.  When I asked him how he was able to persevere through them all, he credited his faith.  His witness, copious study, and a lot of prayer culminated in my reception into the Catholic Church.
I had previously assumed that I would get married and have kids, but upon entering the Church, I thought I should investigate the possibility of priesthood.  After moving to Cincinnati for a medical internship, I asked the diocesan vocations director to recommend a local parish with a vibrant young adults group.  He suggested St. Gertrude, the site of the Dominican novitiate.  The emphasis on preaching, community, and study first attracted me to the Dominicans.  Additionally, chanted vespers was exquisitely beautiful.  Truly marvelous, though, was the consistent, contagious joy of the novices and professed friars, especially Fr. Michael Mary Dosch, O.P., the chaplain of the young adults group at St. Gertrude when I lived in Cincinnati and now my current pastor.
Over time, my love of the Dominicans has only continued to increase.  Serendipitously, Dominicans have accompanied me through my training in Cincinnati, Louisville, and Columbus, and a Dominican martyr, Fr. Luis de Cancer, O.P., is portrayed in the largest stained glass window at the parish closest to my parents’ Florida home.  As a physician, I sometimes feel as if my efforts at physical healing merely delay the inevitability of death for a short time.  Temporary measures pale in comparison with communicating God’s grace through the sacraments and being a part of someone’s spiritual healing for eternity.  I ask for your prayers for my fellow novices and me during our ongoing formation.
Brian – Rhode Island, studied at The George Washington University (clerical brother candidate)
age: 30
inspirational saint: St. Paul
I was born and raised in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, the seventh of eight children.  I attended East Greenwich public schools until the ninth grade, when I enrolled in Bishop Hendricken High School in neighboring Warwick, Rhode Island.  After graduating from high school in 2002, I attended The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where I studied international affairs and history, and spent one semester living in Madrid, Spain.  In 2006, after graduating from college, I accepted a position at a business consulting firm in Washington, DC, where I would spend the next four years. In 2010, I transferred to the firms office in Chicago, Illinois, leading to what would ultimately be a formative year in my life.
In Chicago, I began attending daily Mass at Old St. Patricks Church which, providentially, was located just a few blocks from my home and office.  Pleased, but ultimately unfulfilled in my life in business, I began a months-long journey that would culminate in my decision to join the priestly formation program for the Diocese of Providence (RI) in 2011.
I entered Our Lady of Providence Seminary, a minor seminary in Providence, Rhode Island, in the fall of 2011.  I attended classes at Providence College, just a few minutes down the road, and it was there that I was first introduced to the Order of Preachers.  I was aided by a Dominican formation adviser, Fr. James Quigley, O.P., and over the course of my two years in seminary, I had three Dominican professors – Fr. Joseph Torchia, O.P.; Fr. Nicholas Ingham, O.P.; and Fr. Joseph Guido, O.P.  In the second year of seminary, when I began to consider a vocation to religious life, these men – along with my overall experience at Providence College – undoubtedly played a role in my attraction to the Order of Preachers.
After two years at Our Lady of Providence, I decided to leave the diocesan formation program in order to pursue religious life.  I accepted a teaching position at Prout High School in Wakefield, Rhode Island, where I taught scripture and philosophy. Following what was a wonderful one-year experience there, I decided to leave for a period of pilgrimage, travel and reflection. Over the past year, this decision has led me to Lourdes, Fatima, el Camino de Santiago, the Holy Land, Argentina, and ultimately, the decision to apply for the 2015 Dominican Novitiate.

James – New York, studied at Providence College (clerical brother candidate)
age: 29
inspirational saint: St. John Marie Vianney

I was raised in a Catholic family in Mahopac, New York. I am the younger of two children. At an early age, I knew that God was calling me into a deep relationship with Him. However, it was not until my adolescence that I made significant progress toward this friendship and gained a better understanding of God’s plan for me.

Leading up to high school, my religious observances involved attending Sunday Mass, prayers before bedtime and meals, and occasionally visiting a religious shrine with my mother. My vocational discernment began in high school when I presented a talk on the Christian life on a religious retreat. Eucharistic Adoration became the highlight of retreats because it was there that I felt close to God. Through witness talks, I learned about how my peers lived as Christian disciples and that living the Christian life required a solid commitment. This encounter left such a profound impression on me that I felt that God might be calling me to the priesthood.

At Providence College, I met joyful Dominican priests who encouraged me to embrace my vocation and to bring everything to prayer. Father Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., was the first priest that I spoke to about my possible vocation to the priesthood. Under his guidance, I began to explore the priesthood by first establishing my prayer life and becoming involved in campus ministry. I accomplished this by praying the Rosary with other students, attending the March for Life, becoming a lector on my college campus and asking priests about how they live out their religious vocation as Dominican friars.

After graduation, I became involved with the Knights of Columbus, which provided a formative environment for me to live my faith. I met young men who were deeply in love with the Church and I began to yearn for entrance into a formal religious community. A couple years later, I enrolled in graduate school for biomedical research. During this time, Eucharistic Adoration sustained my faith and my longing for the Lord. Moreover, praying the Rosary and the Divine Office centered my life towards the will of Jesus Christ to fulfill the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing. In doing so, I realized that good works and involvement in my faith community were vital to my spiritual development. As I continued to practice my faith, my desire to see and know God increased, which in turn motivated me to decide to move closer to God in a radical way.

After years of discernment with the Dominicans and attending a vocation retreat, I have decided that I want to live the life of a Dominican friar. Preaching the Gospel for the salvation of souls is the main reason why I desire to become a Friar Preacher. I want to dedicate my life to Jesus Christ by becoming His instrument. I ask you to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for my brothers and myself as we begin our formation in the novitiate.

Daniel – Connecticut, studied at Ave Maria University (cooperator brother candidate)
age: 28
inspirational saint: St. Thomas Aquinas
I grew up in Somers, Connecticut, the fourth of six children.  I was raised in a devout Catholic family and benefited from a large, Catholic extended family, too.  We were taught both to know and to love the Faith.
I attended local public school through high school, and then attended Ave Maria University in Florida, majoring in philosophy and growing in my spiritual life.  While in college, I took seriously the idea that God was calling me to the religious life.  One of the orders I researched and visited was the Order of Preachers.  How could I not think about being a Dominican, given how much I loved studying St. Thomas Aquinas and how devoted my family had been to him?  I knew I wanted to help spread the love of the truth of the Catholic faith, and I was learning to appreciate the contemplative life of seeking closeness to Christ.
During my senior year, I applied to the Province of St. Joseph and entered the novitiate for the first time after graduating.  Our novice master Fr. Walter Wagner, O.P., provided excellent formation that proved to be a great influence on me.  I grew to love the Dominicans and the life in the Order, but realized I would not be ready to take temporary vows by the end of the novitiate year.  I went home and worked while seeking God’s will for the next step in my life.  As time went on and I grew, I reflected on myself, on how the Holy Spirit seemed to move my heart, and began to think that the Dominicans could be the right fit for me after all.  I sought and followed the guidance and advice of a few friars in the province, especially Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., a scientist and professor at Providence College, and I decided to re-apply.  I look forward to continuing my discernment in the novitiate.
Ray – Illinois, studied at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (clerical brother candidate)
age: 27
inspirational saint: St. Joseph
“Nope. Definitely not.” Those were the words that passed through my mind the first time I saw the Dominican House of Studies.
Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, I grew up in a Catholic home with both parents practicing the faith. I’m the third oldest of four children, and over time my parents adopted five kids, totaling two parents and nine children; our parish priest laughingly dubbed us “the Grieshaber Army.” I went to public school, and my earlier years were spent mostly skateboarding, playing guitar, and shooting pool. Notwithstanding my parents’ efforts, very little catechesis ever penetrated my thick skull, and I fell away from the faith in college. In a search for peace, I read a couple dozen secular books on “happiness” and believed I knew what I wanted out of life. At twenty-three years old, I was fortunate enough to attain just about everything I was seeking, but there was a lingering sensation I couldn’t shake – I was still unhappy.
Needless to say, this greatly troubled me. I had read most of the prominent self-improvement books and followed their instructions, but something was still missing. I decided to start looking at some religious material, and eventually I made up my mind that I believed God existed. I moved to Cincinnati for work, and I was invited to join the 20s Group at St. Gertrude Church. Though still experiencing feelings of awkwardness when hearing the word “God” in a sentence, I embarked on gaining some “head knowledge” of Catholicism, but it wasn’t until I began attending Theology of the Body classes at Ruah Woods that my heart really started to change. In these first couple years as a Christian, the most impactful moments were discovering the existence of objective truth, figuring out that the Catholic faith is the “true truth,” and completing a Marian consecration; Our Lady took care of everything from there.
As I became more steeped in the Dominican charism, one of my new priest friends, Fr. Jerome Zeiler, O.P., was an encouraging witness to these changes in my life. He recommended I discern a possible religious vocation, to which I reluctantly agreed. After my first visit to the Dominican House of Studies, I thought my soul was clearly communicating, “Nope. Definitely not.” Phew! Dodged a bullet. Still set on marriage, after a couple more years of further deepening my faith and growing in devotion to our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph, I decided to pray a novena to the Husband of Mary with one clear intention: send me my future wife. Twelve days later, my vocation trajectory was flipped end over end, and I unenrolled from my upcoming Master of Business Administration program to apply to the Order of Preachers. “Ite ad Joseph!”
Over these past four years, our Lord has moved my life in ways I never could have planned. In awaiting the novitiate, there is a great and restless joy in my heart in pondering the words St. Dominic spoke to Stephen of Spain as he clothed him with the habit of the Friars Preachers, “I give you arms, with which throughout your life you may fight against the devil.” Please pray for me, for my novitiate brothers, and for the conversion of all hearts as we journey together to eternity. +JMJ
Thomas – Pennsylvania, studied at Dickinson College (clerical brother candidate)
age: 27
inspirational saint: St. Martin de Porres
I was born and raised in Chester County, Pennsylvania as the fifth of six children, and only son, to John and Linda.  Like my sisters, I grew up attending Mass at St. Patrick Church in Kennett Square, and received my primary and secondary education at the local public school.  The death of Pope Saint John Paul II, during my junior year of high school, was the real catalyst for me to consider what the Church teaches in a more serious manner and how those divine truths orient believers to live as sincere Christians.  
I then would meet the Order of Preachers while a student at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  A Dominican priest from the Nigerian Province of Saint Joseph the Worker served as campus chaplain.  His example and witness, specifically his concern for souls as a confessor, left an indelible impression.  I believe that initial encounter prepared me for the providential steps that would later lead me to a Dominican vocation.
Following graduation, I worked in the financial sector just outside of Wilmington, Delaware. Within this professional environment, I started to sense that I was possibly ignoring a call to serve the Church.  While considering how to proceed, I came across an article about the Order of Preachers in the New York Times, which ignited my curiosity.  I quickly bought a biography of Saint Dominic and was inspired by his apostolic zeal. As I learned about the Order’s charism, its vision of a mixed active and contemplative form appealed to my desire for a more integrative life that balanced both work in ministry and study and prayer.  Shortly thereafter, I connected with the Saint Joseph Province by way of the St. Thomas More Oratory at the University of Delaware where I would sometimes attend Mass during lunch breaks.  The very kind pastor Fr. Ambrose Eckinger, O.P., patiently listened to my story and encouraged me to pursue what I had come to understand is a vocation with the Dominicans.
Through this process of discernment, I have encountered many generous and joy-filled friars who graciously answered my questions and offered support.  I am humbled at the prospect of following in their footsteps. Please pray for me, my future novice brothers, and our families.
Michael – Pennsylvania, studied at the Angelicum (clerical brother candidate)
age: 24
inspirational saint: St. Jerome
In my high school years, while I was growing up a Catholic in Pittsburgh, I decided to read the lives of the saints. I was greatly struck when reading the life of St. Dominic. His drive to contemplate and preach the Gospel, as well as the order he founded to carry on the work, was as attractive as it was edifying. I had picked up in secular history that saints are sour-faced and self-tortured, so it was also refreshing to find a saint who was known as an attractive personality by those around him. I also was amazed that multiple witnesses recounted the same miracles performed by St. Dominic, particularly that he raised three people from the dead.
A draw to religious life actually came at Auschwitz. I had the opportunity of visiting the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a priest/prisoner at Auschwitz who had volunteered to die for a man he didn’t even know. He sang hymns the entire time, and even got his fellow prisoners (who were not all Catholic) to sing with him. He was the last one of all the prisoners to pass away, and he died with a smile on his face. His faith was so strong that one of his guards actually converted over the affair. It hit me that I have never had enough love for God or neighbor to do something like that, and in prayer I realized that I could only find a level of charity that intense by becoming a priest or religious. It then occurred that I’d probably need to be both.
I started attending the Angelicum in 2011 in order to discern a vocation with the Dominican order while earning my degree in theology. I was particularly impacted by Fr. Luke Buckles, O.P., and Fr. Bernard Blankenhorn, O.P.; they made me think “I want to be like them.” I first encountered St. Joseph’s Province through Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P.; Fr. Edmund Ditton, O.P.; and Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P.; and felt called to discern their province further after a vocation retreat in 2012. After much prayer and study, I believe that my life would be greatly lacking if I did not discern further with the Province of St. Joseph in novitiate.  Please keep me and my novice brothers in your prayers.
Bill – Virginia, studied at American University (clerical brother candidate)
age: 24
inspirational saint: St. Anthony of Egypt
I was born and raised in Illinois, about an hour outside of Chicago. Although I have no siblings, I spent a lot of time with my cousins growing up. History was my favorite subject in school, and I always had a great love of the outdoors. The memories of vacations and camping trips with my family are particularly treasured. I was not raised in any particular religious tradition, but in high school I began reading about Catholicism. By junior year I decided that I wanted to become Catholic.
I was baptized and confirmed by Fr. David Mott, O.P., my freshman year of college at American University in Washington, DC. Fr. Jordan Schmidt, O.P., and Fr. Michael O’Connor, O.P., were responsible for my catechesis during RCIA. The Dominicans run the campus chaplaincy at American, and so I got to meet a number of the friars over my four years in college. I profited from the example and instruction of each of them. Double majoring in philosophy and legal theory, I graduated in 2013 and began working for the Office for Family Life of the Diocese of Arlington. I greatly benefited from the good example of my co-workers and the people of the Diocese.
The Dominicans’ focus on prayer, study, and preaching is deeply attractive to me. It has always impressed me that all of the Dominican Order’s activities are motivated by a charitable desire to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection and mercy with others. My hope is that the Dominican life will help me to grow in love of God and love of neighbor. I am deeply humbled to have this opportunity. Please pray for us.
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Bryan – North Carolina, studied at North Carolina State University (clerical brother candidate)
age: 24
inspirational saint: St. Irenaeus
I was born in Vineland, New Jersey; however, I spent most of my childhood growing up in Maine with one younger sister. I was raised and baptized in the United Methodist Church, where I learned the value of Christian community and serving the poor. During the summer between my high school sophomore and junior years my family moved to the coast of North Carolina.
When I was a student at North Carolina State University I became friends with several people who were a part of the Catholic Campus Ministry. Through their genuine and loving witness of the Catholic faith I developed a desire to join the Church. After much reading and sincere prayer, I was confirmed Catholic at the Easter Vigil on April 3, 2010.
After graduation, having discerned a vocation to the priesthood, I became a seminarian for the Diocese of Raleigh. I attended seminary at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania, where I soon discovered I was drawn to a different life with Christ, in particular religious life. Having been introduced to the Dominicans in college, my prayer and free time at seminary were spent discerning and learning about the Order of Preachers. A particularly insightful experience was during a tour of the province when I met Fr. Luke Clark, O.P., who had attended the same seminary as me. Being able to talk about the similarities and differences between diocesan and Dominican formation and life was very helpful. Through many conversations and a lot of prayer, over time I fell in love with the life, prayer, and mission of the Dominicans and finally asked for permission to apply.
I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him and for His call in my life. Please pray for me and my new brothers as we enter our novitiate year to continue our discernment and deepen our prayer. Saint Dominic, pray for us!
David – New York, studied at Williams College (clerical brother candidate)
age: 24
inspirational saint: St. Philip Neri
The second of four siblings, I spent most of my childhood in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Though I was baptized Episcopalian, when I was nine my whole family entered the Catholic Church. At thirteen, my family moved to Oxford, England, where we received formation and sacraments from an Oratorian parish for two years. The Oratorians’ communal life, fraternal affection, and ministry of sacrament, liturgy, and preaching taught me to love the external things of the Catholic faith and gave me a deeper appreciation for the fruits of an interior life of prayer.
In Oxford too, I first met the Order of Preachers. Though my family moved away from the U.K. in 2006, I returned as a college student in 2012, at which point I took classes with the Dominicans at Blackfriars Hall. The balance of prayer, study, teaching, and preaching practiced by the Dominicans caught my eye.
Completing college, I moved to New York to work for the journal First Things and I began to consider more seriously what it would look like to enter a religious community. I read and wrote about the evangelical counsels, but still the thought of entering the religious life was mostly abstract. Hoping to make it more concrete, I attended a vocations weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in February 2014. The weekend left me uncertain, so I decided to table the question. Common prayer, study, and preaching all appealed to me, but I wasn’t sure how to proceed.
During the following months, I became closer with the Dominican order. Friars wrote for First Things and came to our seminars; student brothers interned at the magazine; and I became a regular at the Dominican-run parish of St. Vincent Ferrer. Rigorous and studious without being lost in the ivory tower, active and apostolic without neglecting contemplation and an interior conformity to Christ, the Dominican way of life appeared more and more attractive to me. I greatly admire and wish to emulate the way that the Dominicans I’ve met offer their lives to Christ and his Church—they passionately seek after the truth, after holiness, and after the salvation of souls.
A week-long retreat with a more monastic religious order confirmed my desire to enter religious life. After some time of prayer and discussion with my spiritual director, close friends, and family, the way forward became clear and I asked for an application to the Dominicans. Please pray for my new brothers and me that we would be perfected in charity, able every day to better love Christ, one another, and the people we serve.
Joseph – Virginia, studied at Rutgers University (clerical brother candidate)
age: 24
inspirational saint: St. Paul
I grew up in a Catholic family and went through Sunday school up through high school, receiving the sacraments at all of the normal times. Beyond that basic level, I can’t say my faith impacted my everyday life much.  I had a fairly good life; I was very successful in school and fairly successful at most other things I tried.  I was, however, very lonely.  It was this loneliness that motivated first my search for friendship and ultimately my desire to know God.
In college I came to know God through the sacraments and in prayer.  I have the Brotherhood of Hope, who are responsible for campus ministry at Rutgers to thank for much of development and growth in the spiritual life.  In coming to know God, I found a friend who is steady and true.  Being with God, I found contentment.  And as I came to know God, I realized that He might be calling me to a life consecrated to Him.  So I started discerning religious life with the Brotherhood of Hope my junior year of college.  I discerned with them for three years, working with them in campus ministry at Northeastern University in Boston after graduating from Rutgers; however, the summer after my first year at Northeastern I felt God clearly calling me to the priesthood and the Brotherhood of Hope had decided to be an order of lay brothers.
Therefore, I started looking for what next step God wanted me to make.  As part of that discernment, I spoke with Fr. Philip Merdinger, the founder of the Brotherhood of Hope, and he recommended I check out the Dominicans.  The charism of the order immediately attracted me because it combined a deep desire for a contemplative life with a call to an active apostolate.  I greatly anticipate learning how to bring the fruits of contemplation to others through study and preaching. I have been formed well in my early spiritual growth by the Brotherhood of Hope, but I am excited to enter the Dominicans where I will discover how to use the gifts God has given me to serve others.  Over the past year, I have been greatly inspired by the Dominican saints I have learned of.  While St. Thomas Aquinas has always attracted me because of his great learning combined with humility, I have also come to admire St. Dominic, our founder, as well as saints such as Catherine of Siena, Raymond of Capua, Jordan of Saxony, and Francis of Perugia.  I look forward to entering into the same vibrant communal life of the Dominicans that these Saints participated in and striving to serve God with these brothers.  Please keep myself and my fellow novices in your prayers during this year of formation!
Alex – Nebraska, studied at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota (clerical brother candidate)
age: 23
inspirational saint: Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati
Growing up in a military family, I moved around for most of my life. Shortly after being born in Riverside, California, my family picked up and left for Virginia, then Nebraska, Japan, and finally Illinois. I never felt attracted to the priesthood or a religious vocation when I was in high school, but my family instilled in me a desire to do good and avoid evil, and the basic pursuit of virtue helped propel me into young adulthood. After graduating from high school in Belleville, Illinois, I went off to study East Asian languages and political science at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Forming good friendships with the joyful priests at the Newman Center helped me see that a vocation is given by God, and the prodding of the Holy Spirit urged me to apply to the diocesan seminary.
My very first philosophy class was taught by Fr. Andrew C. Fabian, O.P., of the Central Dominican Province. His teaching style made the study of logic intriguing, but also deeply challenging. It was evident that this holy priest was in love with Christ and His Church, which made his classes much more meaningful. After spending three years studying philosophy at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota, I felt that God might be calling me to religious life. I enjoyed the holy fraternity and support of the seminary, and I felt compelled to discern with a charism rather than with a diocese. I spent the past year working and praying at Mount Michael Benedictine Monastery and School in Elkhorn, Nebraska, where I lived with Benedictine monks while helping lead retreats, run a youth group, and coordinate volunteer opportunities for high school students.
A friend from seminary encouraged me to make a “Come and See” weekend with the Dominicans, and my experience at the House of Studies was an enjoyable one. Getting to meet many friars my age praying and studying for the mission of preaching resonated with me, and the communal liturgies drew me into the beautiful religious life of a Dominican friar. I spent time with the community at Ss. Philip and James in Baltimore led by Fr. David Mott, O.P., and took note of their varying apostolates all centered around bringing others to the divine light of Christ’s Truth.
After arriving back to Nebraska from Washington, DC, I got involved teaching RCIA. I noticed the desire in my heart to “contemplate and to give to others the fruits of contemplation.” The witness and faith of the three young men going through the RCIA process left me with a desire in my heart to teach the faith as a Dominican friar in a community of men devoted to a common mission of saving souls through preaching.


Matthew – Maryland, studied at the University of Maryland, College Park (clerical brother candidate)

age: 22
inspirational saint: St. Isidore the Farmer
I grew up in Gaithersburg, Maryland, with my parents and my little sister, Elizabeth. Through my childhood, my parents gave me a great love and commitment to my Catholic faith, but I also had lingering fears and doubts. Part of me always wanted to deepen my knowledge and practice of the faith, but through high school I kept putting that off.
Providentially, when I began attending the University of Maryland (UMD) I met some great friends who convinced me to go on the Catholic Student Center’s (CSC) fall retreat. There I had a powerful experience of God’s mercy in confession, my first in several years. Jesus had died, offering Himself completely, to give me life; the only suitable response was to dedicate my entire life to Him. I did not yet know what form that would take, but as I increasingly encountered Jesus in the sacraments of the Eucharist and confession, I began to have thoughts of the priesthood.
By the following semester, my relationship with God was growing daily and I had developed a zeal for evangelization. Right after a pivotal moment in my evangelizing endeavors – an opinion column that I wrote had gone somewhat viral – I met the Dominicans. First it was a conversation about Star Trek with Fr. Justin Brophy, O.P., next a discussion on Biblical languages with Fr. Leo Checkai, O.P., a fellow UMD alum, and then hearing of Dominic’s zeal for preaching the faith intelligently against harmful errors. Here at last was “bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”: nerdy religious who shared my passion for sharing the faith.
During my sophomore year my love for the Dominicans grew as Fr. Philip Neri Reese, O.P., and Fr. Gabriel Torretta, O.P., then student brothers at the House of Studies, began a ministry for students at UMD. The amazing things I learned were only surpassed by what I saw: brilliant, faithful men whose intelligence and evangelization prowess led them to humble prayers rather than intellectual pride. These were men who I aspired to be like.
My desire to become a Dominican only increased as I attended a vocations weekend, read Dominican books, and began travelling to the Dominican House of Studies for Compline weekly with a great friend and FOCUS missionary. In all these things, I experienced the beauty and simplicity of the Dominican life: “to contemplate and to share the fruits of contemplation”. It was like the life I had begun living out at UMD, but at a higher pitch. As the summer before my senior year began, I realized my long lingering and deepening desire to become a Dominican friar could soon become a reality. Thanks to the prayers of many great friends, not to mention the Blessed Virgin Mary, this desire will soon be realized. Please pray for my brothers and me as we enter formation, that we may grow in deep friendships with each other, Saint Dominic, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and, of course, Jesus Christ, to whose joy and suffering we will be conformed.
John – New York, studied at Providence College (clerical brother candidate)
age: 21
inspirational saint: St. Stephen
I was born and raised on Long Island, the oldest of three children. I was raised Catholic, attending Mass on Sundays and going to religious education classes, but it wasn’t until high school that I began to take my faith seriously. I had gone to public school through eighth grade, but I was blessed to be able to attend a Catholic high school. It was at Chaminade High School, under the guidance of the Marianist brothers, that I really came to know and love the Catholic faith. During my junior year, I decided that if I was going to tell people I was Catholic, I needed to know what that meant. This began a pursuit of the Truth which would ultimately lead me to the Dominicans, though I did not know it at the time.
I had never met the Dominicans until I arrived at Providence College. I wish I could say their presence had an immediate effect on me, but that was not the case. It wasn’t until the end of the fall semester of my sophomore year that something clicked. Fr. James Cuddy, O.P., the school’s chaplain, was celebrating the 10:30 PM Mass, and during his homily he invited us to spend five minutes in the chapel every day during Advent. I took him up on the invitation, and the Lord began working in me. Over Christmas break, the thought of the priesthood came into my head while on a retreat for alumni with my high school. So when I returned to campus, I began going to daily Mass, in an attempt to discern God’s will for my life. Ultimately, though, it was the example of the friars on campus, especially Fr. Cuddy and Fr. Justin Brophy, O.P., that led me to think I may have a vocation with the Dominicans.
In the fall of my junior year, I attended a vocations weekend at the House of Studies. Here I saw the student brothers living the Dominican life, a life I could see myself living. I saw them searching for Truth in their studies and Beauty in the Liturgy, all in service of the Dominican charism, to preach for the salvation of souls. Then in the spring of my junior year, I studied abroad in Paris, France. This was a blessing in many ways, but most of all because it allowed me to travel to Toulouse, the birthplace of the Dominican order. Here I was able to pray at the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas and visit the house where St. Dominic founded the order. Through these experiences, I truly began to see that God was calling me to give my life to Him in the Order of Preachers.
As I began my senior year, I started the application process with the Province of St. Joseph. Over the course of the year, the continued example of the friars, as well as the encouragement of my friends and family, helped me grow in confidence in my vocation. By the grace of God, my application was accepted, and I am humbled and excited to enter the novitiate this summer. I ask for your prayers for me and my brother novices as we begin our novitiate year.
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Joseph – Massachusetts, studied at Providence College (clerical brother candidate)
age: 21
inspirational saint: St. Ignatius of Antioch

I was born and raised in Massachusetts, the second of six children. My family has always been strongly Catholic. I was homeschooled until 9th grade (when I began attending a public high school). Being taught at home was a blessing because it allowed my parents to instill in me a love of study and to teach me about our faith. But it wasn’t until I received confirmation that I began to take my faith more seriously and to make it the center of my life rather than just a part.

When I began looking for a college to attend, I knew that I wanted a truly Catholic school with strong academics. I fell in love with Providence College on my first visit. Its dedication to the intellectual and spiritual life appealed to me. I had never met a Dominican before or really heard much about the Order of Preachers. Over the last four years, however, I have interacted with Dominican friars as professors, chaplains, and administrators. Fr. James Cuddy, O.P. (Chaplain), and Fr. Justin Brophy, O.P. (Associate Chaplain), have been my mentors, showing me the beauty of the priestly and Dominican life.

During the fall of my junior year, I studied abroad in Rome. While in the Eternal City, I was able to meet more friars, attend Mass in St. Dominic’s cell and with the Master of the Order. Last summer, I spent six weeks with the Dominican friars in Springs, South Africa, working with orphans and vulnerable children. It was a transformative experience to see the friars in Rome, in the heart of the Church, and to then go out to the peripheries and see members of the same order caring for the most vulnerable. I saw that, although their locations and circumstances were very different, these Dominicans were united by a dedication to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Through all of these experiences, I slowly came to accept the Lord’s call. During my freshman year, I began to sense a pull inside my heart, especially during Mass. For a long time, I ignored it, trying to stifle it. After years of wrestling with the Lord, however, I finally attended a vocations weekend at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C. There I saw everything that I had grown to love about the Dominicans over my four years at PC. I saw their dedication to the True, the Good, and the Beautiful. I saw the beauty of the Divine Office. I saw their rich intellectual life. I saw the strength of their fraternal community life. And I saw their joy, the joy of the Gospel, the joy of loving Christ and preaching Christ.

At last, I was able, by God’s grace, to conform my will to His. It is with immense gratitude and joy that I look forward to entering the Dominican novitiate. I ask for your prayers for myself and my brother novices during this year of discernment.


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