By happy coincidence (which is just God acting anonymously), Br. Samuel’s mother, Jaynie was visiting on the Feast of St. Jane of Aza, Dominic’s mother. I asked her how she felt about her 26 year-old son’s decision to join the order three years ago. Below are her reflections.
“My first response when Samuel told me he was joining a religious order was: ‘You want to do what?!’ I was like, you are working so hard and on track towards your doctorate in [Space] Optics and you are going to do what?! But what I thought he would lose, he has gained all the more. I was afraid he would be leaving something behind, but the gifts he has gained just as a human being are incredible. While always a leader, I don’t think gifts like leadership would have been further cultivated in Samuel in quite in the same way.
When he told the professor directing his Optics Degree that he was leaving, she responded: “You are going to serve a higher boss.” It’s a strange thing, but people would initially furrow their brows when I would tell me my son was in formation to be a priest. Then the more I talked to them about how happy he was, the peace and hope he exuded, the brows would relax and there was a desire in them to connect with what they saw Samuel now had, that same peace, hope and happiness.
The funny thing is I felt I was giving my son away, but he keeps being given back to me in a multitude of ways. We get so much out of being a part of the Dominican family. I see now what Samuel saw; the true community and what drew him to the Dominican in the first place, the joy. That’s what shines through this life from the youngest to the oldest friars, the joy. I remember Samuel being touched by the oldest friars especially. As he put it: “Mom, they age with joy.”
For Samuel to leave for uncharted waters was so scary and unnerving for me as a mother. Every parent first wants their child to be safe and happy. The more I become involved in the Dominican family, the more peace I have. You have provided my son a safe, loving and caring place that I can be proud of. Now you O.P.s owe to us parents, sons who grow into men that are healthy and strong so that “our donation” and those others who support you and my son see a thousand-fold return. Samuel is not just my gift, but now the Church’s gift to the larger world.”
Friends, you are those “others” Jaynie is talking about who support her son, Samuel and his classmates. Thank you for helping build toward that thousand-fold return and the joy that is its hallmark!
In the spirit of St. Dominic,
Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P.
Director of the Society for Vocational Support