Announcing the 2014 Novitiate Class for the Eastern Province Dominicans

June 4, 2014

We give thanks to God, to Blessed Mary, and to Blessed Dominic for sending us these men to preach the Gospel for the salvation of souls. They have been accepted for the 2014 novitiate class for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.  Each of them will be vested in the habit of our founder on August 8, 2014 in a private ceremony in the chapel of St. Gertrude Priory.  After the ceremony, the parish celebration for the Solemnity of St. Dominic will take place at 11:30AM in St. Gertrude church in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thank you for your prayers for these men as they take this important step in following Jesus Christ in the way of our holy father, St. Dominic! Pray that they might one day be “Champions of the Faith and true lights of the world.”


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Men accepted for the 2014 novitiate

 Stephen – Michigan, studied at Hillsdale College (cooperator brother candidate) Although I was born in Austell, Georgia, I spent most of my life growing up in Monroe, Michigan. I have one older brother. I grew up in a United Methodist family and I enjoyed helping out at church from an early age. I attended a public elementary school and a private secular middle and high school. At Hillsdale College, I was immersed in the history of western civilization and the Church. My studies, along with the vibrant Catholic community at St. Anthony’s Parish, assisted my conversion to Catholicism. The richness of the traditions of the Church and the great Saints captured my heart during my initiation and confirmation. The lives of St. Dominic and St. Francis were especially inspiring to me. The apostolic nature of the mendicants made me think about the possibility of religious life, but I continued to study Finance and Mathematics. After graduation, I worked in a few different positions in the financial industry but I felt unfulfilled. I investigated some different religious orders but when I found out about the cooperator brotherhood in the Order of Preachers I eagerly set up some visits. At a vocation weekend of the House of Studies, I became confident enough that I was being led to the Dominicans that I sought an application. The strong community, intellectual life, beautiful liturgy, and evangelical zeal of the Dominicans, all bound by a mutual love and adoration of Jesus, are overwhelmingly attractive to me. The love of God and neighbor that overflows from the brothers is inspiring and contagious. I am very grateful for the graces given to me through my family, studies, conversion, and discernment and I eagerly look forward to the novitiate. Please pray for the perseverance and proper discernment of the brothers.

WillWill – Ohio, studied at the University of Dallas (clerical brother candidate) Born and raised in Cincinnati, I grew up going to St. Gertrude Church with my family. I am the third of seven children, almost all of whom were/are homeschooled. Our family life was rooted in the Faith, and our parents structured our daily lives around prayer, with the Mass being the primary focus. As a child, I assumed that all parishes were Dominican, like St. Gertrude – and it was years before I discovered there were other kinds of priests than those in the white habits. From as early as I can remember, I told people I wanted to be a priest when I grew up; however, I can also remember telling my mother (when I was around 10 or 11) “if I am not going to be a priest, then I hope I get really rich.” But by the time I was a freshman at the University of Dallas I had almost entirely forgotten about my adolescent priestly yearnings. I studied English (thus seeming to crush my other childhood hope for riches). During and interspersed between my four years at UD, I studied for a semester in Rome, hiked throughout Europe, worked in the oil-fields of North Dakota, and spent summers playing and recording folk music in Asheville, NC. Meanwhile, though I was in a couple of dating relationships and felt pretty keen on marriage, the thought of being a priest kept resurfacing, unbidden and unsettling. However, in my senior year, I began to give serious thought and prayer to my vocation; I read The Autobiography of St. Therese, during which I had a profound religious experience. Maybe God’s plan for me included religious life. When I witnessed my older brother enter the Novitiate, I felt loudly called to do the same. Seeing him in a habit brought the ‘thought’ of priesthood (which I had never fully been able to escape) more vividly into reality. The idea of being a Dominican priest made me excited, but it also conveyed peace and warmth. After half a year of prayer, spiritual direction, and a vocation weekend at the House of Studies, I asked for permission to apply. I am very attracted to the Dominican life of prayer – both communal and interior, as well as its aspect of study. I look forward to being able to spread God’s Word through preaching and ministry. But most of all, I am eager to commit my life to the service of Christ – especially by way of ministering the sacraments. Please pray for me and my future brothers as we further our journey toward Christ!  Jeff  – Ohio, studied at the University of Cincinnati (clerical brother candidate) I am the second of three children to my parents Bob and Kelly and was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio where I’ve lived most my life. Dad was the family catechizer growing up and when the Bible-books came out, instinct moved me to run and hide under my bed covers. But Dad was never dissuaded because even if it took bribing to solicit my attention and ears from under the blankets, he succeeded in impressing upon me that God is real and really important.  Catholic practice had been instilled, but my faith up until college was very routine, much like a game of follow-the-leader: I would mimic the moves my family made—going to Mass on Sundays and confession every few months—but I hadn’t yet personally owned my own faith. It was in college that I began to seek a better understanding and foundation for what I believed; through books, talks, adoration, prayer, and good friendships I began to foster a relationship with Jesus Christ and strived to live it out in my daily life. I joined FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) directly after graduating from college. FOCUS is a college evangelization ministry, within which I’ve come to an even deeper understanding of what it means to be Christ’s disciple through prayer, evangelization, community, and the preaching of the Gospel to the ends of the Earth! My two years in FOCUS have been an incredible life changing experience: I’ve fallen in love with Jesus in a radically new way and have discerned that Christ has called me to conclude my time with FOCUS and join the Order of Preachers.
What attracts me most to the life of a Dominican is his call to preach the Gospel. As I’ve grown in my faith, I’ve come to experience the deep joy of sharing Christ’s Good News, whether through speaking, teaching, mentoring others, serving the poor and elderly, producing media, or campus ministry (as I’ve been privileged to do these past two years) I’ve embraced this joy and look forward to pursuing it with my brothers in the Novitiate of the Province of St. Joseph.  Bruce – Louisiana, studied at The Catholic University of America (clerical brother candidate) I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana with one sister thirteen months my junior. For as long as I can remember, I have had an interest in the priesthood which only increased when I began to serve Mass at my local parish. I attended Jesuit High School in New Orleans, where I acquired in my theology classes a doctrinal foundation for the externals of the Faith to which I was so drawn. During these high school years, and with the assistance of several holy priests, I also began to develop a greater love for the spiritual tradition of the Faith and a desire to cultivate an interior life. I had some sense then that the diocesan seminary would not be a fit for me, and that I needed a comprehensive religious rule in order to have my soul conformed to Christ in the Evangelical Counsels. I first met Dominicans of the Province of St. Joseph as a senior in high school when visiting Washington, DC for the March for Life, and I maintained close friendships with the Dominicans while studying Classics at The Catholic University of America. As a CUA student, I was very drawn to the House of Studies. Additionally, I developed friendships with several Dominicans during my year abroad, first in Rome, and then at Oxford. I dated seriously in college and at the same time worked hard to build a daily plan of life for both study and prayer; but I realized sometime in my senior year that my vocation was still not yet clear to me. In the interim, I accepted a management training position at a bank in New Orleans. Within several months of accepting the position at the bank, I realized that what I needed was not a life of prayer built around work but one of work centered around prayer. The Lord gave me the grace to know that this could only be accomplished in religious life and several months of subsequent prayer confirmed that decision. I was in touch the whole time with several Dominicans to whom I owe a large debt of gratitude. They patiently answered my questions as I began to understand that not only did the Order of Preachers have a strong community life centered around prayer which I desired, but also its zeal for the salvation of souls would perfect my charity and was therefore necessary for the salvation of my own soul. Since I made the decision to apply to the Novitiate Class of 2014, the Lord has given me such profound and lasting interior peace, the like of which I have never before known, that I can see how He is already drawing me closer to Himself in the process.  Joseph – New York, studied at The George Washington University (clerical brother candidate) I was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts and grew up in Buffalo, New York. I have been blessed throughout my life with a loving family, especially after the sudden death of my father at age 11. Without my siblings, uncle, grandpa, and especially my mom, I am certain I would not be entering the novitiate this year. God first profoundly revealed His love and providential care in my life through them. My faith journey was aided by the grace of a Catholic education. I am indebted to the teachers at St. Andrew’s and the Lasallian educators from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in Buffalo. They nourished my whole being and gave me opportunities to serve our Lord in liturgy, on retreats, and through assisting those in material need. They prepared me to attend The George Washington University in our nation’s capital, where I have just completed an undergraduate degree in International Relations, particularly development in Latin America. And when I, like so many of my peers, had begun to grow tepid in the faith and forgetful of all the Lord’s benefits, He showed His greatest kindness yet in leading me to the GW Catholics Newman Center. In these past three years, Christ has given me a craving to know His word and steadfast love, and He has not left me disappointed in what I have craved. Inspired by the friends I made, and the example of our courageous and selfless chaplain Fr. Greg, I began to hear and discern that still, small Voice calling out, asking me to cast my life into the deep. It is this Voice who has moved me to believe that my vocation, my mission from God, is to contemplate Him and to give to others the fruit of that contemplation. This happens to be the motto of the Order of Preachers, coined by the Angelic Doctor and Dominican friar, St. Thomas Aquinas. I am totally unworthy of this life, so close to Christ and our Lady, but I have the hope that, fortified with His mercy and that of this splendid Order and Holy Father Dominic, my life may increasingly become that of the Beloved Son. Please pray for me and my brothers in formation, and be assured of our prayers for you as we journey together in faith.  Kevin – New York, studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville (clerical brother candidate) I am the third of four boys raised on Long Island, NY. Growing up, I slowly but surely matured into my faith, especially through the steadfast ministry of the Marianist brothers and priests of Chaminade High School. I became involved in their service groups, prayer services, and as a retreat assistant all the while growing into friendships with a number of the brothers. As a sacristan at my parish, I became familiar with the Church’s liturgy and the life of a parish. More importantly, I also became familiar with the priests who served us. Both there and through interaction with the religious at school the seed that our Lord had planted in my heart to pursue a vocation was nourished. My home life provided a solid foundation on which my education and formation built. While at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia I came to discover this inclination of my soul to the religious life and priesthood. The weekends of my junior and senior years at high school were frequently occupied with vocation retreats and events through the Diocese of Rockville Centre and the Marianists. My spiritual director, Fr. James Williams, SM, helped guide me through this process until it was decided that I should attend Franciscan University of Steubenville. I immediately applied to the Pre-Theologate Program (now known as the Priestly Discernment Program), which provides an environment for discernment and formation within the context of the University’s Household system. Once I was introduced to the Dominicans I felt identity immediately. A silent retreat over Pentecost weekend following the sacerdotal ordinations at St. Dominic’s Parish in Washington, DC gave me inspiration to follow His Will as a priest of the Order of Preachers.  Jacob – Connecticut, studied at the University of Connecticut (clerical brother candidate) I was born and raised in Meriden, CT by my loving parents and with my older brother. During the home years of life I attended public school and was involved in many groups and activities. Two of those that certainly helped shape me were The Boy Scouts of America, where I attained the rank of Eagle, and the Francis T. Maloney high school bands. These groups taught me much about community and working together with others. It wasn’t until college however that the lessons of the faith were really starting to sink in and a relationship with Christ was forged. I attended the University of Connecticut and it was there through the group FOCUS (the Fellowship of Catholic University Students) that I was invited deeper into a life of faith. This was a wonderful time of growth, but also travel. Christ lead me to mission trips in El Salvador and He brought me to Spain for world youth day as well. During my time at UCONN I began listening to the call of the Lord and found that as I drew closer to him he was leading me to a different way of serving and a different way of loving. Upon graduation I had a period of transition where I was working and discerning were the call was leading. It was then though prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that I was connected with the Dominicans. I had met them early on in my college career, but it seemed that it wasn’t until after college that it became clear the Order of Preachers began to seem like a potential home. The community life of prayer and brotherhood amidst the study of truth was a beautiful harmony that captivated me. The first time I heard the Divine office in chorus was breathtaking and instantly I felt elevated closer to the transcendental goods. Committed to serving Christ and his people wherever He leads, I ask for your prayers for my future brothers and myself that we may be transformed evermore by His love.  Joseph – New Hampshire, studied at Providence College (clerical brother candidate) I was born and raised in a small town in southern New Hampshire. My parents Nancy and Stan were faithful Catholics and fostered in me a love for the faith at a young age through a prayerful home culture and a focus on service in our church community. This culture only grew when my two younger siblings Peter and Maria were born. I went to Catholic elementary and high school and was always involved with the Masses and Retreats at school. In high school, I became very involved in the Steubenville retreats. It was there that I began to seriously consider the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood. I have always been passionate about learning about the faith and sharing what I learned and my excitement for Truth with others. For this reason, I decided to study Philosophy and Theology at Providence College. It was there that I met the Order of Preachers. While I always thought the Dominicans were awesome, it was not until I was abroad in Rome junior year that I began to consider that I might be called to be one of them. Upon my return from Rome, I went on a Vocation Weekend. That weekend, everything that I saw and heard only served to confirm my hesitant suspicion that I may be called to the Order. Ever since then, that suspicion has only been confirmed time and time again in various ways and in spite of opposition. To contemplate and share the fruits of my contemplation with others for their salvation and my own is a daunting task, and I pray that God may give me the grace to run well the race and fight the good fight. For “woe to me if I do not preach.” Please pray for me and my new brothers as we move into our year of formation and further discernment in Cincinnati this July, that we may come to know and love God all the more and embrace this Cross that He has chosen for us.  Praised be Jesus Christ!  Alfredo – New York, studied at Notre Dame (clerical brother candidate) I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. I am the oldest of four siblings, and one of many cousins/grandchildren in a very close-knit Latin family. I grew up in a very loving family steeped in the faith. The example of my parents and grandparents especially was the first catalyst for my love of Jesus and His Church. Then, when I was 12 my family moved to Long Island, NY and we started a new stage of our lives as immigrants in the States. I first plunged into my faith once I got to Chaminade High School, where I was educated in the Tradition and where I first encountered the life of professed religious in the Marianist community there. I soon grew close to the brothers and with them began my discernment of religious life. After I graduated high school I went to the University of Notre Dame where I began studies of philosophy, then later Italian literature. At Notre Dame I discovered a passion for Truth, and for its resplendent Beauty. I began to search the depths of our faith, grew in my convictions, and saw that there is much joy in a life dedicated to Jesus. I first met the Dominicans on Spring Break my sophomore year at the House of Studies. I followed that first meeting in spiritual direction back at ND with Fr. Anthony Giambrone OP, a happy friar who was and continues to be a great inspiration. Then, my junior year, I was blessed to study at Bologna, Italy – the city where, I was happily surprised to learn, St. Dominic’s remains are buried. I spent my time in Italy in a residence of the Opus Dei, a place of grace where my faith and vocation were formed and nurtured. I naturally also prayed much at the tomb of St. Dominic, and got to know him and his order better. I developed a habit of praying the daily rosary, and it is really to Our Lady’s credit that I am now about to enter the religious life. In Italy I became convinced of a call to “contemplate God’s beauty and to share the fruits of my contemplation.” On my return to the States, I set about getting to know the St. Joseph province better. I visited the Dominican parishes near my home in New York and also out in Ohio; then, I went back to the House of Studies for a vocations weekend and was given a final push by God to apply to the Order and this province. I thank God for the beautiful and grace-filled journey so far, especially for those who have accompanied me on the road. Please pray for our class as we enter formation, may we be ever more conformed to Christ.  Daniel – Virginia, studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville (clerical brother candidate) I grew up in Charlottesville, Virginia, the oldest of six children. Until high school, I attended local Catholic education, and throughout, my parents were sure to engender in me an appreciation for the importance of the sacraments. The community and education at my parish, St. Thomas Aquinas, was very strong and was led by the Dominican fathers there, and so I was blessed to develop a solid foundation and to have opportunity to teach religious education and help with formation for younger students. Convicted that I wanted to help people to discover happiness and to seek self-knowledge, I chose to attend the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio for studies in Psychology. About a year into my studies there, however, my desire to be a father, a guide and a teacher for others’ salvation, grew all the stronger, and I began to consider that the priesthood would be the only life in which I could be so dedicated to this service to others. In my reflections on these movements of my heart, I turned back often to the phrase I had often heard at my parish in Virginia, the aim of the Dominican life, to ‘preach for the salvation of souls’. I began to understand, through helpful guidance in the process of discernment, that the Dominican life offered me just the life of assiduous study, common prayer and priestly ministry that I had begun to desire and the constant intention for the salvation of souls which so motivated me. This color of the religious life, as developed by St. Dominic and carried on throughout the many years of the Dominican tradition, became a sure answer to the ways that I had found the Lord to move my love. Therefore I am here with these good men, all seeking to be formed so as to be a light to the world, hounds of the Lord. Please pray for us as we enter this process, that we might know perseverance and the steadfast love of God.
 Eric – Michigan, studied at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit (clerical brother candidate) I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and have lived here for most of my life. When I was in second grade I expressed the desire to become not only a priest, but, in fact, the next Pope. After high school I entered formation with the religious society, the Salesians of Don Bosco in New Jersey. After one year of service, study, and prayer, I discerned God was calling me back to Michigan. I later began studying for my degree in philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, which I have received this past semester. I have also been working extensively in youth ministry within the Archdiocese for the past five years. It was in ministry that I first began to experience a taste of the Dominican study/prayer/ministry dynamic. As I delved more deeply into the Scriptures and the Tradition of the Church, I felt an overwhelming desire to share that with the young under my care. Their responses and follow up questions drove me again to more deeply study and to more deeply pray. Having studied at a Catholic seminary, I had more than my fair share of St. Thomas Aquinas and thus began my interest with the Order of Friars Preachers. I admire the Dominican pursuit of the Truth, their wonderful liturgical expression, and their faithfulness to the Tradition of the Church. DavidDavid – New York, studied at University of Rochester (cooperator brother candidate) I was raised as a devout Protestant in Rochester, NY. Thanks to my parents, I learned a young age to love the Scriptures. In college a close friend with a similar religious background to mine started to take seriously Our Lord’s command to “love your God with all your mind.” I joined him on a 7-year theological quest that ended with us both being received into the Catholic Church on April 7, 2007. As I learned more about the faith, religious life became more and more attractive to me. Early on in my Catholic life, I was impressed by St Thomas Aquinas and the Order of Preachers. The Dominican motto “To contemplate and to share with others the fruits of contemplation” struck a chord with me, as did the Order’s practice of sacred study.
After attending the September 2013 vocations weekend at the House of Studies in DC, I knew that this was the life I wanted to live. The community life of prayer and study, working for the good of souls, seems to be something for which God has been preparing me, long before I even knew such a life existed. God has surprised me so many times with His wonderful gifts of grace, and I look forward to encountering – and helping others encounter – more of those surprising graces as a Dominican brother.

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