Godzdogz

Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Vocation Story - Andrew Brookes OP

Saturday, July 23, 2011
Born in Birmingham during the Second Vatican Council, I was brought up in a family of practising Catholics in the years of its initial implementation. From my early years I had a fascination with the person of Jesus and a strong affection for him and commitment to him. This continued into my teenage years though, looking back, I increasingly formulated it in a less than orthodox framework. Aged 16, amidst a personal crisis, I received what I can still only call an experience and also an understanding of the extent of God’s love for me and in response to which I committed my life to God as completely and unconditionally as I could. This changed my life: substantial daily prayer, regular Scripture reading, wider study of theology, and more frequent commitment to and involvement in the life and mission of the church, all quickly followed, and soon, leadership of Christian groups. Along with this I came to an orthodox grasp of Jesus and of the Christian mysteries radiating out from this central mystery of God’s Revelation.

A desire for ecclesial ministry, and a commitment to living my faith radically and as part of this a willingness to be celibate had emerged by the time I left home for university. However, finding the specific vocational setting in which to live out this general Christian and indeed Catholic vocation has proved complex, difficult, and, at times, painful. Indeed, I am inclined to regard this journey itself as part of the calling God has placed on my life.

After consideration of various religious orders during and after my university studies and some time working, nothing seemed clear. I then had a positive response from my local diocese and so spent a number of years as a diocesan seminarian before leaving. Factors in this were vocational disquiet and an awareness of unresolved tension within me. I then taught Religious Education for a number of years in Scotland and then took up a range of work in the areas of faith formation / education, evangelisation, and ecumenism. Alongside this I slowly worked through the tension within me and the painful experience associated with it. At the same time a sense of a more specific vocation persisted, which in due course I identified as including commitment to the evangelical counsels, community, prayer,  apostolic ministry, and priesthood. Given this, and my commitment to the ministry of the Word, the Dominicans seemed like an option I should seriously explore. I did so and they have been generous enough to take me on.

Looking back, it seems that God has led me over many years, without me knowing it clearly, into a way of following Christ containing many of the elements of a Dominican calling. It is now good to be able to bring these together more explicitly and live them out within the wisdom and grace of the Dominican tradition, supported by and in collaboration with others living out a similar calling.

Andrew Brookes OP

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