Bro. John Mark
Marc - Massachusetts, studied at Christendom College (clerical brother candidate)
Upon entering the novitiate of the Province of St. Joseph, I am excited to “give witness to the hope which is within me.” I graduated from Christendom College in 2011 and for the past two years have taught high school theology and history at Lowell Catholic High School in Lowell, Massachusetts as a member of the Providence Alliance of Catholic Teachers, a graduate program at Providence College. Teaching has especially allowed me to give voice to the faith which I have possessed since my childhood, thanks to my family and my home parish in West Springfield, MA. After graduating from Christendom, I experienced desire to let all of the things which I had learned to love and relish throughout my upbringing and education bear fruit. The saying beloved by Dominicans has helped to form my own spirituality: “to contemplate and to share with others the fruits of contemplation.” Over the past years I have come to understand that this Dominican path is likely the one God will use to sanctify me and those whom he places in my life.
Throughout the various stages of my life, I have had a strong sense that God means for me to become a priest. Corresponding with my service for the Dominican nuns and my deeper awakening to faith during junior high, I began to be in close contact with Dominican priests who either served as chaplains or guest preachers at the Monastery of the Mother of God. Fr. Jacob Restrick, OP taught me how to serve a monastic-oriented Liturgy, impressed me by his vivacious homilies and prayerfulness at Mass, and served as my confessor in junior high and the beginning of high school. He first gave me my love for being a “brother” to the nuns. I always want to serve them in some capacity and be part of their family. Even more significantly, I recall receiving a burning desire from this time onward to be a close disciple of the Lord, one of his apostles, and to “proclaim God’s marvelous deeds to all the nations.” Having come to know Jesus through personal and communal prayer, I wanted to be able to go out and teach others about the great and loving God I had encountered. During high school I discovered intense happiness in telling others about Jesus through teaching CCD at my parish. This work made me happy and to this day, teaching is a privileged and especially joyful way for me to bring God with others. I left for college to further my education in theology and I aspired to become a Dominican priest when the time was right, meanwhile hoping to prepare myself intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.
Remembering all I learned from my family, friends, and teachers from West Springfield until my time at Christendom College and as a member of the PACT program, I thank God for my growth as a Christian man who understands his vocation more to be of service to the Church. I also have come to appreciate how very much I need my friends and family. They are the ones through whom I encounter God each day. They keep me sane and healthy and balanced. With them, I will continue to learn what it is to be a man, a Christian, and a child of God. Over these past two years I have learned even more how much I enjoy working for the Church. After numerous years of growth, I still believe Dominican life would be a great fit for me. I know this is true because I have flourished while living in Christian communities, I draw strength and inspiration from participating in the rhythm of the Liturgy with my friends and priests, I love being engaged in study and the teaching apostolate and missionary work, and I remain desirous of imitating St. Dominic as a loving disciple and priest of Jesus Christ. For unmerited blessings in abundance over the past years, I can only think to respond: “How shall I repay the Lord for His goodness to me? The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name!”