I was one of those people who knew from an early age that religious life was for me. Now that I am preparing to take my permanent oath as a Maryknoll Brother on May 31, I am thrilled just thinking about where the Spirit will guide me.
For my introduction to Maryknoll, I have to thank a parish priest back in Ontario, Canada where I was born and raised. Given my interest in mission, he thought Maryknoll might be a good fit. He was so right! The minute I set foot on Maryknoll’s campus, I knew I was home.
One of my first encounters was with Brother Robert Butsch, M.M., a humble man of many talents. During his years in China, Brother Bob made special footwear for people with Hansen’s disease. His stories captivated me.
Then Maryknoll invited me on a short-term mission to Jamaica, serving at Blessed Sacrament Orphanage. I loved working with the kids—many of them were quite ill. I will never forget the day one of our young charges died. The youngster had no family, so I and three other volunteers served as pallbearers at the child’s funeral. I was honored to remember this child with my small sign of respect.
Meeting Brother Bob and serving in Jamaica reminded me how important small acts of charity can be when someone is suffering. I had been deeply affected by a Franciscan Brother who consoled our family when my grandfather died. And I remembered the Canadian and Holy Cross Brother, St. André Bessette, who was a tireless servant to the poor.
“These men—and the Maryknollers I came to know—showed me that caring for those in need is the essence of a brother’s vocation.”
These men—and the Maryknollers I came to know—showed me that caring for those in need is the essence of a brother’s vocation. In 2011, I joined the Maryknoll Brothers’ formation program.
In addition to my studies, I spent three years in overseas training in Cochabamba, Bolivia. I worked at an after-school program, an HIV/AIDS clinic, and a senior citizens center. That’s when I met Carlos at the Senior Center.
Carlos never had visitors and always sat alone. One day, I introduced myself and we talked. When Carlos told me about his family, he began to cry. He missed his children. Just by my showing an interest in him, Carlos found the strength to open up. Eventually, he began praying with us and found some comfort.
Other people opened up to me, too, and that’s when I saw the truth of my vocation: I would live for others, reflecting the love of God back to those I serve.
As I prepare to take my permanent oath as a Maryknoll Brother, I thank God for you. Your prayers have been with me as a blessing and a grace. In thanksgiving and in brotherhood, I will pray for you each day of my mission life. I can honestly say, now I am ready to love and serve the Lord.
~ Brother Ryan Thibert, M.M.