The Lord calls people in various ways and I heard His invitation when I was 17. Few years prior to that I became seriously ill and in search of treatment I ended up moving from my home country of Poland to England. Dreams of studying languages changed into the hope of studying medicine. During my preparations for A’ levels, however, another event occurred that made me set out on a totally different course in life – I came across a person known to the world as Padre Pio, a Capuchin saint. Through his intercession I was partially cured of my illness and a desire was born within me to be a religious. I had no idea what that would entail, but I thought it cool to wear the habit, have a long beard, do penance whilst living conscious of the presence of God all the time!
Eventually I came across an advert for the vocation weekend for the Westminster diocese that I attended but found not really for me. In the meantime I discovered the Secular Franciscan Order and a great sense of belonging to a family. There was no one within my age range – but that sense of belonging was still there. I simply felt at home. It was from this that I got the idea of maybe meeting with the friars to discuss how I could go about joining, and so the Franciscan friars I spoke to gave me the address to the Capuchins, and the rest is history. Many vocation weekends later I was finally accepted to set out on a new way of life.
The beauty and the challenge of making that initial answer to God’s call is that I would never have imagined where it would take me in life, even though at the time I would have had my own ideas like anyone else. The consolation for a Franciscan like me is that St. Francis of Assisi did not know these things when he said yes to God, and he also had to experience many difficulties in order to learn how to listen to God more attentively.
Having been with the friars for over 10 years, I am always invited by God to listen to where he wants me to go and what to do, so that I can grow. This means there is never a dull moment and life becomes full of surprises.
Being a Capuchin deacon helps me to understand that life is about service, and at the heart of the Franciscan vocation is a call to renewed relationships. St. Francis had a unique relationship with God that changed the way he related with others and everything around him. He became a brother to all that is created. For me, the call of a Franciscan friar is primarily to grow in all those relationships, by following Jesus in the way of poverty. By embracing this specific way of life I am helped to see that all comes to me as a gift, and the only proper response to any gift is gratitude and love shown to the giver. This means a life – time of learning for me, and at the same time everything I do acquires value, no matter how small a service it may seem. Whether it is studying, visiting the sick, giving a day’s retreat, preaching, or hoovering my room. Through all these activities I can grow and develop in order to enjoy life to the full.
No matter what that specific call may be that we hear, if it comes from God it will lead us continually on the great adventure that life is and ultimately to our greatest happiness. For all the ups and downs during my story, I can easily say that it was worth it to say “yes” to God, and I look forward to whatever comes next in my life knowing that the Lord is making the journey with everyone that He has called.