Dominican Friars, Central Province Director of the Society for Vocational Support, Fr. Andrew Carl Wisdom, O.P. recalls the journey of Brother Raymond Bryce, O.P. following his Profession of Solemn Vows on August 31.
In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that I would talk to the United States Pentagon as Promoter of Vocations. As Brother Raymond Bryce, O.P. , knelt before the provincial last month and professed vows until death, memories of that day came flooding back.
Christmas shopping with my mother at Kohl’s Department Store a few years ago (or rather it was my mother doing the shopping and I was her bag carrier), I received an urgent call from then Air Force Captain Steven Bryce: “Fr. Wisdom, the Pentagon needs to talk with you before I can be released early from my military commitment.” I said, “Very funny, Steven, now what’s really going on?” He responded, “No seriously, Fr. Wisdom, they need written and verbal verification that I am requesting leave for the reason I say I am; that I am applying to religious life.”
Now he had my attention. I left my mother holding the bag, literally, and rushed back to my office. Time was of the essence now that we had the attention of the higher-ups. I faxed out a quickly composed letter with my signature and waited for a call from a Colonel at the Pentagon; surely a first for me.
When the call came, I was a little speechless at first. A nice, soft voice came on the line. When I finally spoke, the Colonel seemed momentarily taken aback as well. We continued the conversation, both joking that she was expecting someone with the name Fr. Wisdom to be much older-sounding and I was expecting someone from the Pentagon to sound more like a drill sergeant with a scary bark.
All in all, I assured the Colonel that Captain Bryce really did intend to pursue a vocation with us and we would be grateful if he could begin that fall. She understood but was sad to lose him, saying he was about to be promoted to the rank of major, having performed admirably in his duties. I marveled anew at the depth of faith it took for this 27 year-old man to walk away from a clearly extraordinary and promising career.
As the provincial said in his homily at Br. Raymond’s profession, “God invites specific people, men and women, to be preachers. Br. Raymond has decided to accept that invitation to participate in the work of salvation as a Dominican. He is pledging his whole life, body and soul, to this task of preaching until death. There are not too many things until death; some might find the whole idea absurd. And yet, here he is, about to do just that.”
May we all be equally absurd in our faith, my friends, as we preach though word and example each day to a world that might find the whole idea of vocation absurd. It is through your prayers and support that Steven, now Br. Raymond, has come to this point in his vocation. Thank you!