In his Meditations for the feast of St. Bruno, SaintJohn Baptist de La Salle wrote, “Piety by itself is ordinarily useful only for the people who possess it, but when learning is united with piety, it makes for a great person very useful to the Church. Such was Saint Bruno, at once a burning and a shining light: burning, because of his love for God, and shining, because of the excellent lessons he gave to others” (Meditations, 174.1). De La Salle reminds us that we are called to be the light of Christ and that our life can be an excellent lesson for those entrusted to our care. Being “light” begins by inviting others to a deeper relationship with God, helping them on that journey, and ultimately, directing them onward. We have been called to be a light to others, students and colleagues alike.
During winter break of my final year of college, I was confident that I knew what I wanted to do… well, sort of. Nearly two years after leaving seminary, I had a deep desire to return to the formation for the priesthood; however, I also had a persistent and compelling passion for teaching. So, I had to explore how education was to be a part of my vocation: lay, religious, secular, or as a part of my diocesan priesthood. So, when the campus minister at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, Colleen Dunne, texted me that evening about Lasallian Volunteers, I jumped at the opportunity.
When I first applied to be an LV, I—a little selfishly—knew that I would have the opportunity to be in education, and that this opportunity would answer my big, vocation question. But, I also knew that—I hope worthy of a bit of redemption—I would get to work with students and help them in some small way. Little did I know that the answer to my vocation question would also come in all of those small things. As I served, I simultaneously maintained an attitude of discernment, and it was one day, while reshelving books at my first service site, that I clearly realized that I was happy, yet there was something inside of me that felt unsatisfied, there had to be more, and I knew the answer: the priesthood. However, it was more than that moment that answered my question. It was in every conversation at social, every Friday movie night searching for something to watch, every professional development session… I mean supper, every hike and car ride home with my fellow LV, and every little activity that we attended in between. Through each of these situations the Brothers and their associates became a “burning and shining light” in my life, and in the light of their vocation I have more clearly seen my own. Joyfully, God answered my initial question: I believe that I am called to the priesthood.
Now, as I continue my journey to the seminary—and hopefully one day to ordination—I have chosen to do another year as a Lasallian Volunteer because I have felt, in discernment, that God has so much more to teach me through our Lasallian family. I still have to apply and go through at least another six years of formation (which just thinking about gives me butterflies), but I take it one day at a time. And, as I finish out this year and prepare for the next part of my journey, whether it continues to be from the whiteboard or from the pulpit, the skills and lessons of community and classroom within our Lasallian family will help me to be a better mentor, guide and image of Christ!
God calls each of us: from before we know where we are going and during every moment of our day, he directs us to the next part of our life. I am unimaginably grateful for the work that the Brothers have allowed me to receive and participate in. As I apply to seminary later this year, the light from the Brothers will continue to guide my journey.
De La Salle, John Baptist. Meditations. Translated by Richard Arnandez, FSC, and Augustine Loes, FSC. Lasallian Publications. 1997.
Ben Peters is a second-year volunteer serving at Cristo Rey De La Salle East Bay High School in Oakland, California. He is a 2018 graduate of Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.