The title of this article is a familiar phrase although few people realize just how much spiritual implication it really has. It certainly characterizes the beginning of my religious vocation to Holy Cross.
I went to a high school in New York City conducted by the Congregation of Holy Cross. For more than 3 years, I got average grades and was not at all thinking about religious life. In my senior year, I applied to and was accepted by the State University of New York, and I really felt that I was on my way to a career in education. I was enjoying my senior year, spending a lot of time with friends and working on some social projects that were interesting.
Then suddenly I started to get these “strange thoughts.” I had a sense that God wanted something different for me than I had planned. Some might respond to this by spending more time in prayer in order to understand this new experience. Instead, I went to more parties to try to drive these ideas out of my head. However, it’s hard to outrun God. I remember feeling exhausted one night, and turning the light out, I thought that this just wasn’t working. I had to try to deal with these thoughts in a different way.
So I spoke to two different Holy Cross religious about what was happening to me. They encouraged me to apply to the Congregation of Holy Cross. I figured that when I applied, I would probably be rejected and then I would find peace once again. Within 2 weeks of my applying, I was accepted. Then my dilemma started all over again.
Despite my grave doubts, I decided to enter the Congregation of Holy Cross in the summer of 1968. I felt that if I were to be a religious of Holy Cross, I would want to be a Brother. I had known many Brothers since they were the ones largely responsible for the running of my high school. I admired the work that many did in the classroom and I identified with them. On the other hand serving God as a sacramental minister in priesthood did not seem like my call, but this too required discernment.
Deciding to be a Brother was something that in time, came from within me after seeking the advice of some trusted religious. These wise counselors asked me to consider if I saw myself leading others in celebrating the sacramental life of the Church or did I see myself living the testimony of my vows primarily in an education setting. The answer came to me in a very natural way. Although I felt that I could be a priest, I was experiencing a call to spend my religious life with education as my sole focus rather than dedicating myself to sacramental ministry.
Formation as a Religious of Holy Cross takes time but after years of study, profession of vows and participation in the ministry of Holy Cross, I came to know that God has indeed called me to this life as a Brother of Holy Cross. Personally, I have made the correct decision. During these years it has been very gratifying to be the hands, heart and voice of Christ to those who seek education and guidance.
I am privileged at this time to serve the Congregation as the counselor for learning assistance at the University of Portland, where Holy Cross has been present for over 100 years. Living the vowed life and finding the presence of Christ in my work has filled me beyond measure.
This kind of happiness of which I speak is why God makes it impossible to hide even though we try to run. The Lord has tremendous riches available for those who will take the time to open the door, even a little. This is why I would encourage any young man to consider seriously the possibility of a religious vocation as God’s plan for him. Why would I hide from all that God would want to give me?
Watch a video featuring Br. Tom and a school in Peru where he served:
Br. Tom Giumenta is a brother with the Congregation of Holy Cross. This vocation story was originally published at Holy Cross Vocations and is republished with permission.