When did you first feel called to religious life? Do you remember a specific place? A person?
There is a tradition of ministry in my family, with both my grandfather and my aunt being ministers in the Methodist church. When I was growing up, I remember thinking that I would make a good minister as well. During my Sophomore year of college, I converted to Catholicism, and so the question of becoming a minister took on a new meaning. I discerned the diocesan priesthood first, but I was really looking for the accountability and fraternity that exists in religious life. Next, I discerned the contemplative life as a monastic. While I could still see myself as a monastic, I also have this other call within myself to do more active ministry. This tension between the desire for contemplation and an active ministry came together for me in the Augustinians.
What's something fun / something you enjoy about living in community?
I love the support that I have in community life. Over the past week I have been isolated in quarantine because I had covid-19, and my brothers in the community went above and beyond to help take care of me. Even though I wasn't physically at the normal community events like prayer and dinner, I could feel the care of my brothers through the way they checked in on me, brought me meals and snacks, and remembered me at prayer. It's easy to think of community as just living with friends, but when things go wrong and someone is sick or in need, you really see how far it goes beyond that. Every individual is an important component of the community, and everyone belongs!
What is the best kept secret / most underrated aspect of the Tradition and Spirituality of Augustine?
The interiority of Augustine is incredibly fruitful. Augustine gives us the prayer "Lord, let me know myself, that I may know you", which lays out for me what it means to have a strong Augustinian spiritual life. When you go within and learn about yourself, like what I'm currently doing at the Novitiate, it opens up a whole world of seeing all the things God has done for you. This posture of gratitude fosters growth of the love of God within you, and this love is the source for loving others in the way God loves them.
Do you have a hobby / passion that you enjoy spending time on?
I'm a big chess player! I love the strategy of it, and how there's no element of randomness. If I win, it's because I played well, and if I lose, it's because I played poorly; it's never the result of a bad die roll or an unlucky card draw. Chess has a lot of depth, and there's always something more to learn. One of the most satisfying aspects of it is to see your rating change when you play online, so you have a real sense of achievement when you reach milestones in getting better at the game.