On August 27, 2015, the Augustinians held a Celebration of Consecrated Life at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. This celebration was held in anticipation of the Feasts of St. Augustine and St. Monica. Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A., Director of Augustinian Vocations, offered the following reflection:
When we receive a gift, we can do one of many things. We can use it. We can toss it under the bed and never use it. We can look for the gift receipt and return it. We can re-gift it.
I would like to share with you a gift I received from God...
...the gift of my vocation as an Augustinian friar. The gift started with my baptism and was nurtured through the loving vocation my parents lived and shared with me and my siblings - what a gift. The gift continued to be revealed to me when I made the decision to attend St. Rita of Cascia High School - what a gift.
It was at St. Rita that I met these guys wearing these long black robes with big hoods and scary looking belts. This was right after the Star Wars movie was released and they all reminded me of Darth Vader. But I quickly got beyond the habits the friars wore and met the friars themselves - what a gift. I began to meet men - real men with gifts, talents, unique personalities, and even some very interesting foibles, who were not afraid to share their lives with us. I met these men who worked together, prayed together, laughed together, and at times fought together - I don't think we were supposed to see the fights but I'm glad I did because it allowed me to see real men who lived in the real world with one heart and mind intent upon God. Men who shared their life with me - what a gift. I am standing here before you today because of their gift to me - their sharing of their lives with me. What a gift!
I could share everything that happened from my high school days till today but I was only given four minutes to speak and I don't want to give my brothers more ammunition for their claim that I speak too long and have never met a microphone I did not like! Augustinian bantering - what a gift!
I first met the Augustinians 36 years ago...
...joined their community 32 years ago, professed my simple vows 27 years ago and 22 years ago this very night, I professed my solemn vows, as Bro. Richie will do tonight - what a gift. In the past 36 years, I have had many ups and downs. I have had joys and sorrows. I have had great opportunities, some accomplishments, and a few regrets. But I can stand here tonight in this magnificent Cathedral in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and in front of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ and St. Augustine, and say, I have never once regretted, even for a moment, my decision to become an Augustinian, a journey which began some 36 years ago. I am blessed beyond measure. What a gift!
Many of you know, I am one of the vocation directors for the Augustinians. I like to say I have the best job in the Order! I get to share what I love with young people every day. But in reality, every Augustinian has the best job in the Order because we get to live out what we love everyday - our Augustinian religious life. I am so grateful to Pope Francis for proclaiming this the Year of Consecrated Life - what a gift. I am so grateful we are all here tonight - what a gift.
To the young people present here tonight, how are you listening to the gift of vocation God has given you? If you have been waiting for a sign from God, look around, the signs may be all around you! My advice to you is simple, talk to me or any Augustinian present here. Don't be afraid to try religious life. It is an awesome life. It is truly a gift.
When we receive a gift, we can do one of many things. We can use it, we can toss it under the bed and never use it. We can look for the gift receipt and return it. We can re-gift it.
Augustinian religious life is a gift to me, to us and to the Church.
My brothers and sisters, what a gift!