VOCATION BRYAN WILLIAMS
BY WARREN WILLIAMS
I had never prayed for Bryan to be a priest. I just prayed that all my kids would stay committed to faith in God and the church, have good families, live a good life be good people and be happy. From the first time we were told by our son that he thought he wanted to be a priest and the initial surprise; we have learned that he has given his life decisions great thought and research. The roots of his desire to become a priest came from his elementary and middle-school pastor, Msgr. Bill Young, who introduced the thought to Bryan. The Jesuits also played an influential role in introducing him to religious life, specifically an apostolic one. It has truly been an awe-inspiring process as we have seen our son mature as he began exploring this vocation and starting formation.
Of course we have had and will have concerns as he continues his discernment; but what an amazing experience we are having watching and sharing with our son as he continues on his journey to become a priest. I think most parents go through similar excitement and joy as they see their children grow up and pursue their dreams.
The year leading up to their first profession of vows was a challenge for us as Bryan was away for the first time for a full year in Novitiate with the Holy Cross order in Colorado. This Novitiate year away was a time for reflection and learning more about the Holy Cross order and what can be expected when you become a priest in the order as well as a time for self-reflection. It was a time for these young men to develop a deep relationship with Christ and to see Christ working in them, the world, and to continue their journey of a life-long love of service and learning. Phone calls were fewer than we had experienced in the past and were received with great joy. While this has been a transition for us it also has been a transition for his brother and sister who have a close relationship with Bryan. They are both proud of their brother, but miss not seeing him and spending time with him. We were able to go to visit for a weekend, which was an uplifting time for our family and our son. The priest leading the novitiate was very helpful and gave us some insight about the experiences the young men were having as they delved in to the word of God and secular life. This was our first year to have our son away for Christmas. This change was something we had been working up to and we had been prepared for.
August 2, 2014, a year later we witnessed our son and 9 other young men make their First Profession of Religious Vows in the Congregation of the Holy Cross. What an experience we had to be with these young men and witness their spiritual growth in their journey. We attended the mass for blessing of the Cossacks they would wear after taking their first vows, joined the other families for fellowship afterwards and celebrated with them after the Mass in which they professed temporary vows.
As we started this journey with our son we did have some fear of what if he changed his mind and this is not what he wants to do; with a little time we found great comfort in his own joy for his vocation. Our visits to see Bryan are a wonderful experience as we are welcomed to stay at the Moreau seminary and participate in the activities. For his brother and sister it is a special time to catch up with their big brother. We have gotten to meet and spend time with his friends and while not all of them are considering a life in a holy order they are all supportive of him. We have also seen some of the young men that started with Bryan change their mind and decide that they are not sure if this is what they are being called to do and we have also been able to share with some whom after several years of discerning are now actively pursuing formation to become a priest. Getting to know more Priests and seminarians has given us a beautiful, real-life picture of the wonderful human beings that are our present and future Priests and we have experienced first-hand the humanness behind the vestments and the collar of a Priest. There are not enough words that can describe seeing God work in ways that we have not experienced before. We are privileged and blessed to witness an exciting and completely fulfilling life unfolding in our son's walk with Jesus Christ and his Church. Our Catholic faith has been made more prayerful and enriched by Bryan's decision to enter the seminary; and if he is willing to make lifestyle changes to serve god, then as parents, we are willing to make some sacrifices too.
We hope that parishioners will join us in prayer for our congregation members and son who are discerning as well as for others to follow.
Staying close to prayer is part of Bryan’s advice to someone considering a vocation. “If you are discerning a vocation to the priesthood, stay close to the Eucharist and prayer,” he said. “It is God who will call you. Do not try to over-reason God’s ways; they are not man’s ways. There will inevitably be some aspect of faith involved, some time when you will have to simply say, ‘All right, God; I’ll do it.’”
Warren Williams, October 2014