Over the course of the next year I will continue travelling along a path that I believe God has called me to travel. It is not the easiest road in one’s life but it is a road that has filled my life with more joy and blessings than any other that I have travelled before. This blog will focus on my journey to the priesthood as a religious. My name is Brother Ray Cook. Back in 2003 I applied to a religious order called the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. In 2007 I made my first vows and have renewed them each year for the past three years. I have applied for my final vows and, God willing, I will make my perpetual oblation this coming September. I currently wait for the decision of my provincial council and a letter of approval. This is an important step for anyone in religious life.
I have just completed my pastoral internship which officially ended on May 15th 2011. As I write this I on vacation which allows me time to enjoy the company of family and friends. I was assigned to a parish in Tewksbury, Massachusetts with 4,000 registered families. I arrived there August 3, 2010 and discovered how busy and draining parish life could be. I have learned a great lesson during this past year: taking time off is needed so I can recharge my batteries in order that I may better serve God’s people. I need time to think, and to laugh and to enjoy the beauty of the world in which we live. During the last few days I have been thinking about the many people who have touched my life in this past year at St. William. The one thing that stands out for me that helped sustain my vocation were the moments of encouragement that came from the parishioners and my Oblate community. I came to realize I must also encourage others who choose to follow this call. Before I left for vacation, myself and a small group of friends from the parish went out to have a meal and enjoy each other’s company and I took the opportunity to thank them for their friendship during my stay: they will be forever part of my journey. I will miss them very much. I suppose that all during religious life I will move around a lot this will happen often. But that’s Ok, because I know that if I never left home to follow this call, I would never have met these people to begin with. God has blessed me more than I can express in words – and so my journey continues in this bittersweet moment of moving forward towards ordination and reflecting back on both new and old friendships that are priceless to me. “A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth.” Sirach 6:14
If you have any questions or would like more details about the vows, please feel free to submit them to the web site. Over the next few months I will continue to update the blog, answer questions and always close with the name or two of a religious sister, brother or priest in formation that we can pray for.
Until next time please pray for two classmates awaiting approval of final vows along with me: Sydney Musonda and Emmanuel Mulenga. Praised be Jesus Christ!