Br. John Bryda, MIC

Stockbridge, Massachusetts


"I vowed to be a brother to all"

Each of us, at some time in our lives, hears that Quiet Voice within. I'm talking about the presence of the Holy Spirit -- dwelling deep down in our hearts.

Ever since I was a small boy, I've heard God gently and repeatedly calling me, but for a long time, I wasn't quite sure how to answer.

Growing up in a supportive Catholic family in Wallingford, Conn., I was nourished in my Catholic faith early on. I remember the joy and wonder that filled my heart at five years old when I began training to be an altar server. Even then, I had a sense that Our Lord was asking me to spend my life being a brother to all.

So, for a long time, throughout my public schooling, my college years, my professional calling as a sculptor, my response was, "Yes, Lord, but how?"

On a pilgrimage to Poland in 1978, I had been praying that God would give me direction. Stepping into a rustic Marian Chapel on a dusty old road brought the answer. Coming in the back door was an old man in overalls, the pastor, a Marian, a man who lived and worked with his people. He was their brother in all things. Seeing him, speaking with him, brought back a flood of memories of other times when Marians had stood by people in need.

And so, I sought admission to the Marians. On Oct. 20, 1991, I made my solemn vows, pledging to be a brother "to those most in need of God's tender mercy."

Wherever my vocation has taken me over the years — to shrines or inner city parishes, jails, nursing homes, classrooms of teenagers hungry for God (whether they know it or not), or to the Catholic community in Ghana, Africa — I've begun to understand that being a brother often means being God's bridge-builder, helping people to span the chasms that divide us.

This is what Marians have been doing now for nearly 300 years — and it's what I expect to be doing, with God's grace, for the rest of my life.

What about you? I hope you will take time to listen to that Quiet Voice. Our Lord may be asking you: "Will you be a brother to those most in need of My mercy?"