A Dominican Vocation

A Dominican Vocation

I first began thinking about my vocation when I was sixteen. I grew up in a Catholic family with my mum and dad and two sisters and I was the youngest in my family. I was an altar boy from the age of seven til 18 when I left home to go to university. Having the example and support of my family has been crucial for me at every stage in my life.
When I was fifteen my sister bought me the new, as it was then, Catechism of the Catholic Church and after going through it I decided that I agreed with everything that it said. Having reached this awareness it was clear to me how my life must be. Since I now knew for myself that the Catholic faith was the truth, I had no choice but to live by it. By the time I left Sixth Form College I had already discerned that I might be made for community life, it was something that seemed very attractive to me. However, I took for granted that whatever I did with my life I must first go to University and get a degree so as to complete my education. I decided to study theology, not because I was thinking of my vocation but simply because I found it interesting. By this point my sister had moved to London and I very much enjoyed visiting her there and so I decided that I would like to study there.

After my first term in London I went to the Verbum Dei community on the Isle of Wight for a 5-day silent retreat over the New Year period. This was a life-changing experience for me. In the silence I found the time to really pray and grew to know and love God so much more. Time spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament was a key part of the retreat and this was and still is the most helpful form of prayer for me. Through this time of adoration and the talks given by the sisters I came to truly know and love Christ present in the Eucharist for the first time in my life. I returned there again for a Holy Week retreat the following Easter and it was then that I felt loud and clear the call to the priesthood. I felt called to be a religious priest but I didn’t know which Order I should join.

In my second year at University we got a new chaplain who was a Dominican. I had been elected president of the Catholic Society and so I ended up spending a lot of time with the chaplain. It was the first time that I had come across a young priest I could easily relate to, he was only 29 when I first met him and we became friends. I went to visit the priory in London to talk to him about the Society and fell in love with the place the moment I walked in the door. The priory in London has a long stone cloister leading down to the church that feels more like a small cathedral than a large parish church and I immediately felt a sense of belonging. I loved to join with the friars singing the Divine Office, morning and evening prayer, and felt more attracted to the Order the more I found out about it. I felt moved to give my life for others, to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the salvation of souls and to live a life trying to love my brothers in community.

After my degree I was recommended to spend a year out as I was only 22 when I graduated. I decided to spend a year volunteering in the Philippines with Dominican Volunteers International. I lived in a Dominican priory with three friars in a very poor area, slums really, on the edge of Manila and taught religious education in the Church primary school and catechism in the secular state school. While I was there I applied to join the Order and was accepted. I moved to Cambridge in September 2006 to begin my novitiate. I made simple profession for three years in September 2007, after which I came to Oxford to begin my studies for the priesthood. I feel truly blessed to have been given the chance to live out my calling. Please pray for me as I continue on the road to the priesthood.

Brother Daniel Jeffries is a first year student.

Daniel Mary Jeffries OP