The Norbertine Fathers of St. Michael’s Abbey in Silverado, California, have announced the newly admitted postulants who will be joining their community in August. By God’s grace, four of them are recent or soon-to-be graduates of Thomas Aquinas College, adding to the already abundant number of alumni discerning or fully professing the religious life.
A religious calling is always deeply personal, and just as no two people are exactly alike, so no two vocation stories are exactly the same. Certainly each of these men — Patrick Cross (’14), Martin McCann (’16), John Greene (’22), and Timothy Wassell (’22) — would agree.
For some, the Holy Spirit tugged early and often. A senior on the California campus, Mr. Greene found himself inclining more and more toward the Norbertines throughout his childhood. “The Abbey has long had a place in my heart, and I tried to join them right out of high school,” he explains. The Norbertines, however, encouraged him toward Thomas Aquinas College to get his degree and some years of experience. “I’m ever so thankful they asked me to attend TAC first. These have been some of the best years of my life and a splendid preparation for the priesthood, both spiritually and intellectually.”
His classmate Mr. Wassell discerned God’s intentions more subtly during these last four years, crediting the College with helping him to hear the Lord’s call. He puts it simply: “The intellectual and spiritual development I gained at TAC nurtured a desire to minister to God’s people.”
In others, however, the Holy Spirit works more slowly and mysteriously. Mr. McCann spent the last few years working for the College as an admissions counselor and dipping his toe into professional sales. Between conversations with the priests and visits to the Abbey, however, he sensed an inchoate longing for the Order and its brotherhood. With time, he realized that this longing was more than sentiment, but a definite invitation from the Holy Spirit.
Mr. Cross also spent several years working for the College’s Admissions Office, and even spearheaded the move out to Massachusetts upon the acquisition of the New England campus. An avid artist, he then worked for several years as a political cartoonist. But throughout that time, God was watering the quiet seed of a calling which bloomed at last and prompted Mr. Cross westward once again, to St. Michael’s.
For all their differences in discernment, a common thread unites these men, and that is Thomas Aquinas College. Indeed, Rev. Vianney Ceja, O.Praem., vocations director for the Norbertines, has noted the significance of this shared formation. “I believe that many TAC students join us here because they find in the Abbey a natural extension of what they already experience on the College’s campus,” he says. “To see young men striving together for holiness is an attractive and powerful witness to the world! I am grateful to God for drawing so many alumni from the rich soil of TAC to the harvest of St. Michael’s Abbey.”
Whether it was through encountering the riches of the College’s curriculum or through the long and gradual husbandry of the heart, these men heard God’s gentle and inviting voice leading them to His service. Thanks be to God!