Johan Oliveire reflects on his experience thus far in the Aspirancy programme.
On May 12, 2018, I entered Aspirancy for the diocesan priesthood. By May 11, I hadn’t packed. I knew the house was associated with this new first stage of local priestly formation, but thought residence was optional for those living past Caroni Bridge or needing space away from discouragement.
As I told Fr Matthew d’Hereaux when the programme was introduced, I was in a happy place, and saying this was actually surprising, as it wasn’t conscious nor did I feel it possible for a long time. So why upset that?
I would since be reminded that vocation takes you from a secure now to an insecure future. Three years before, when my pre-seminary application was put on hold, some of my own insecurities came to light (like struggling to co-operate with others) and I couldn’t move on for a year—at home or school, in church or prayer—until a family in my parish apprenticed me out of good will.
The job helped with such struggles, as with others related to helping my family, so I was glad Aspirancy allowed me to continue working, as I was also able to help my new household.
But, over time, living the best of both worlds was hard; and choosing one to advance with into 2019 was only possible when I acknowledged that God blesses your family when you work on your vocation.
In other words, I had to trust the process if I were going to stay the course—two concepts Fr Matthew used in his initial advice to us. I’ve learnt this usually leads to surprises, such as how early and how closely we all gelled, knowing we were not alone in our individual discernment; becoming brothers, helping each other towards holiness.
So, the insecure can be good—God uses it! And when it shows itself among us from time to time as tensions, handling these well means we develop well: in our thoughts and prayers, our actions, interactions…even our emotions! Big man ting. See God using you as an Aspirant? In the end, in Him, you’ll always be secure.