Michael Maillard reflects on his experience thus far in the Aspirancy programme.
FEELINGS of hope and anxiety were what I felt when I first entered the Aspirancy programme. I kept asking myself, “Am I actually here?”.
As a young boy, I always wanted to become a priest. A new chapter opened in my life and God’s hand was about to begin writing it. I was one of the few men in the house who held a permanent job; the first stage of the process allowed it.
Being employed with Massy Gas Products Ltd located in the Point Lisas Industrial Estate and having to travel from St Joseph to work was difficult and mentally demanding for me. Having to rise at 4.30 a.m. daily, taught me the value and importance of being dedicated to saying ‘yes’ to God and formation.
As an introvert, personal prayer, silence and solitude were not strange for me, but living in community, having responsibilities appointed to me and having to adopt the attitude of an aspirant after a hard day’s work was exhausting. I was tested; there were days that I wanted to leave.
Our director Fr Matthew d’Hereaux would always assure me at these times—as friend and father. He helped build my confidence to really trust the process of formation.
The inner life of the house transformed me through daily Mass and the Liturgy of Hours, and the many formation sessions that we had to go through. All of this prepared me to be ready to make hard decisions for God and for continued discernment of the priesthood.
During the month of December, the words of Jesus to Peter came to mind “Peter, do you love me?” (Jn 21:15) and the demand of Jesus to the rich young man “You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor…and come, follow me” (Mk 10:21) because I had to make a serious life decision to resign from Massy Gas Products Ltd.
Do I trust God or myself? It took many hours of personal prayer and introspection before I made my decision to follow Jesus and leave everything to follow Him as a seminarian and, hopefully one day as a priest. I trust that by leaving “everything” Jesus Christ may increase in me and have His will done in my life.
An overwhelming peace filled my soul after I made this decision to throw myself into the pre-seminary programme; a grace that makes me assured in my choice.
Being in the Discernment House at St Joseph, full-time, with the other men who share a common experience of God calling us to be fishers of men and women, has helped me in my moments of fear, doubt, loneliness and tiredness especially in my transitioning from an active corporate and secular life to one of obedience, study, discipline and a constant thinking of others before self.
In the words of Archbishop Jason Gordon at a recent anniversary celebration of the Seminary, “It can be done”. I encourage any man—young and old—who feels a tug, a push, or inner call in his heart to make the move for God and discern what is the true purpose of his life as a baptised Catholic.