Bro. Albert (Thomas)
I was born in Rochester, NY and grew up just outside the city in Webster, NY. My father, Mark, and my mother Nancy, a convert, ensured that I was raised in the Catholic faith, bringing me to parish events and encouraging me to become an altar server, a role I embraced as soon as I was old enough to be eligible. I was fortunate enough to attend a local Catholic school, McQuaid Jesuit, for both middle and high school. There, I was exposed to both the academic side of Catholicism – theology, philosophy, scriptural studies – as well as the pastoral, assisting in a variety of local apostolates becoming involved with the pro-life movement. While I was in high school, I studied under a number of wonderful priests, several of whom encouraged me to consider the priesthood. While I was more concerned with other matters, like graduating and progressing to college, they nevertheless planted the idea in my head.
In my very secular college, I quickly gravitated towards the Catholic students and chaplain, eventually heading our Newman community my senior year. In the midst of all the intellectual and social upheaval attending college entails, my faith, already a strong part of my identity quickly became an indispensible source of stability. No longer being spoon-fed Catholicism in CCD classes or mandatory religious education, I began to investigate Catholicism on my own: reading the writings of recent popes, trying new devotional activities, and taking advantage of our Newman Center’s sizable library.
I began to discern a call to the priesthood at the end of my sophomore year of college. With the help of my college’s chaplain, I continued my discernment and developed the habits of reading sacred scripture and praying the Liturgy of the Hours regularly. I was blessed to be able to travel to Israel these past two summers. Being able to see the landscape Jesus and the Apostles had occupied, stand in the places they had stood, touch the things they had touched was a remarkable experience, one that transformed and strengthened my faith and my love for the Church.
When I returned home after that first summer, I resolved to begin exploring a religious vocation. A high school classmate, one who will be joining me in the novitiate, put me in contact with the Province of St. Joseph. After visiting several priories, I was impressed by the life and personality of the Dominicans I met. Choral recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, active apostolates, communal living, and a tremendous zeal for the Catholic faith: I knew that this was the kind of life I wanted to live. After reflecting on my attraction to the Dominicans in particular, I applied to enter the next novitiate class and was blessed to be accepted. Now, I look forward to spending the next year entering into the Dominican life with my fellow novices, able to develop my relationship with God and others through prayer and reflection.