Discernment is all about knowing your own story.
As you live your life day by day, you are actually writing a page or two about your life. We can see in Augustine's life, through the Confessions, that he was discerning all throughout his life. He sought to know who he was, what he really wanted, and what his life should be. Upon gradually unraveling the truth about himself, he was eventually drawn in seeking to know God.
Going deeper within himself, Augustine found God. After his conversion, Augustine prayed, "O God, let me know myself; let me know you." Amazingly, in his quest to know God, Augustine realized that it wasn't him seeking God. It was actually God seeking Augustine. In this call to religious life, we may think that we are the first ones to seek God that's why we are in this kind of life.
However, it is God who first sought us, called us, and loved us.
I first met the Augustinians...
...during my senior year in high school way back in the Philippines when Fr. Jun Saladaga, O.S.A., the vocation director for the Cebu Province, came to our school and gave a vocation talk. I never knew who the Augustinians were and becoming a religious priest was not even something I envisioned for myself. The only reason why I joined the symposium was because we got to be exempted from classes by attending the vocation talk. In the end, however, by the grace of God, I eventually joined the Augustinians and that was how I started to know who the Augustinians are—how we harmoniously live together as brothers on our way to God.
After 3 years in formation...
...I left the Order to be with my family in Los Angeles. I studied at Devry University and became a Cisco network engineer. I was very happy with my life outside religious life for I was blessed with a very supportive family and a great set of friends. However, I felt there was still something missing that kept calling out from deep within. This led me to search for the truth and in my quest to know the truth, I have realized—like Augustine— that I have to let the truth (Jesus) find me. God was the first one who sought me. He was the first one who called me even way before I answered this call to religious life. Above all, God was the first one who loved me before I even had a beat in my heart to start loving Him.
After 10 years outside religious life...
Br. Richie professed Simple Vows in August 2012.
I came back to the Order, now with the Midwest Province. I made my first profession of vows on August 12, 2012, at the St. Rita High School Shrine Chapel in Chicago. I am very grateful to our vocation team led by Fr. Tom McCarthy, O.S.A., and Sr. Ardis Cloutier, O.S.F., who helped me go through the application process smoothly. I would also like to thank my Provincial, Fr. Bernie Scianna, O.S.A., He is a leader who is not only for you, but also is with you in your journey. Special words of gratitude to the novitiate community in Racine, Wisconsin (Jerry Knies, O.S.A., Jack Flynn, O.S.A., Kevin Mullins, O.S.A., Henry Maibusch, O.S.A. and Robert Schurman, O.S.A.) who helped me prepare for my vows and molded me to be a true Augustinian. And I would like to thank all my Augustinian brothers who made me feel at home right away during my period of transition.
Preparing for Solemn/Perpetual Vows
Brother Richie met Pope Francis in June 2015
Brother Richie wrote the above article in August, 2012, after professing his Simple/First Vows with the Augustinians. He recently came back from his retreat in San Gimignano, Italy and a pilgrimage on tracing the roots of the Augustinian Order, where he also met Pope Francis, as part of his preparation for his Solemn/Perpetual Vows. He will be professing these vows on August 27, 2015, at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago.
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And please keep Brother Richie in your prayers as he is nearing the end of his initial formation as an Augustinian!