Why would anyone join the Presentation Brothers today? That’s a question I’m often asked. It’s usually followed with the observation that laypeople can do the work of the Brothers nowadays. For example, you don’t have to be a Brother to be a teacher or to work overseas in the developing world. There is, of course, truth to this statement- you don’t have to be a Brother to do this work. Laypeople do it with great competency and energy. In light of this some people wonder if there is a need for the Brothers anymore.
However, there is a flaw in this analysis. It defines Brothers by what they do. This is not the right way to look at it. Brothers are defined by who they are.
Being a Brother is a vocation. A vocation is a call from God to do something with one’s life. So a man doesn’t join the Brothers simply to be a teacher or a missionary. He does it for a much, much deeper reason. He does it because he has come to the conviction that this is why God created him- to be a Brother to other people. In a sense he makes the commandment, “Love thy neighbour”, the motto for his life.
This explains why you will find Brothers working with immigrants in Waterford, with the homeless in Dublin, as missionaries in the West Indies, in classrooms and chaplaincies, in the desert of Northern Ghana or with the Roma gypsy people in Slovakia. They are trying to love others just as God loves us.
A Brother follows the Gospel in a radical way by taking three vows which are very counter cultural; celibacy, poverty and obedience.
I’m often asked about celibacy. People wonder if it is a lonely way of life. Yes it can be difficult at times but that is also true of marriage. No path in life is always a bed of roses! Brothers live together in small groups known as communities. This is one of the greatest supports which a Brother has to help him deal with the various challenges that life throws at him.
Our vow of poverty is really a call to live simply and generously. Any money which a Brother earns is placed in a common fund and we all live out of that.
The vow of obedience does not mean that one could be sent to the North Pole in the morning! It means that one agrees to listen to the will of God and cooperate in carrying out the mission of the Brothers.
Even though the number of men coming forward to learn about this way of life has fallen, I continue to receive a steady stream of inquiries asking for more information. I’m not surprised by this.
There is a great need for people to think deeply about what they want in life. This is difficult to do because of the hectic pace of life today. The Presentation Brothers are offering men a chance to pause and think with our “Time Out” weekend. In particular, we invite men who are interested in a religious vocation to this event which is free of charge.
These “Time Out” weekends take place in Cork, Dublin and London and are advertised on our Congregation website, www.PresentationBrothers.org. During the course of the weekends, participants have the opportunity to reflect on their lives and also to listen to some speakers talking about vocation in life. These are informal and relaxed events.
I can honestly say that I have found being a Brother to be a rich and fulfilling way to live. Yes, it’s not for everyone but I strongly believe that there are men reading this who are called by God to be Presentation Brothers. My message to you is to get in touch with me. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain!
If you would like more information about “Time Out” or about the Brothers, contact one of our Vocations Directors:
For Ireland & England:
Brother Rupert O’Sullivan, Presentation Brothers, Mount St Joseph, Blarney St, Cork.
Tel: +353-(0)21-4304975, E-mail: [email protected]
Brother Denis Claivaz, 15 Laxton Avenue, Parkdale, Ontario M6K 1K8, Canada.
Tel: +1-416-537-0327 E-mail: [email protected]
Brother Raphael Mario Toodle, Presentation Brothers, 10918 N. Kindle Ranch, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA.
Tel: +1-210-255-1412 E-mail: [email protected]
For West Indies:
Brother Robert Fanovich, Presentation Brothers, PO Box 113, St. Georges, Grenada, West Indies.
Tel: +1-473-440-4941; Fax: +1-473-440-9067; Email: [email protected]
Brother Cletus Carlton Gubil, Presentation Brothers, P.O. Box 142, Yendi, NR, Ghana,
E-mail: [email protected]
Brother Paul Atole, Presentation Brothers, Maryam, Tafawa Balewa, PO Box 18, Bauchi State, Nigeria.
E-mail: [email protected]