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May 2, 2021: Fifth Sunday of Easter - Pastor’s Corner

From left to right: Br. John Vianney Russell, Br. Anselm Dominic LeFave, Br. Peter Augustine Hoang, Br. Anthony Maria Akerman, Br. Cassian Smyth, Br. Jordan Martin, Br. Peter Pius Chu

In Last week’s Gospel, Jesus identifies himself as the Good Shepherd whose voice calls his flock to follow him. Since the Good Shepherd’s call is not simply to follow, but also to encourage some to take up the vocation to be “good shepherds” as well, it is a time to promote religious and priestly vocations. So, this week, our Dominican Novices will share their vocation stories at our Sunday Masses.  This year we are blest with 7 novices who have unique and powerful stories of how God called them to be Dominicans.  The novice year is the first of about eight years of formation, so keep our novices in your prayers as they continue their journey. May their stories inspire us to pray to God to open the hearts of young men and women to follow him as priests and religious.

~ Fr. Michael

Br. John Vianney Russell

Br. John Vianney is from Pasadena, CA. After receiving a B.A. in Integral Studies from St. Mary’s College of California, he earned a J.D. from Catholic University of America in 2016. While studying at CUA, he frequently encountered Dominicans in the bookstore, and their conversations revealed a shared love of truth. Br. John Vianney finds inspiration in St. Augustine’s voluminous writings and greatly admires St. Thomas Aquinas for his clarity and ability to engage various sides of an argument. He desires to save souls through spiritual direction, teaching, and care for the sick and dying.

Br. Anthony Maria Akerman

Br. Anthony Maria grew up in Salem, OR. He earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion from Claremont Graduate University in Southern California. During his studies, he converted to the Catholic faith and met the friars at St. Dominic’s Parish in Eagle Rock, CA.  The writings of St. Louis de Montfort have informed and prompted Br. Anthony Maria’s deep devotion to Our Lady. As Mary leads us to Jesus, one of his favorite Scriptural passages is Philippians 2:5-11 which unfolds of mystery of our salvation in these words: “Though Christ Jesus was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant … and being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him.” Br. Anthony Maria has long desired to preach and teach and can’t imagine giving his life to anything else.

Br. Cassian Smyth

Br. Cassian is from Polonia, WI. After receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 2014, he moved to Salt Lake City where he met the Dominicans at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center. Br. Cassian later earned a M.A. in Philosophy of Religion from University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago before coming west again. Br. Cassian greatly enjoys fly-fishing for trout, and so he perceives the miraculous catch of 153 large fish in John 21 as a call for him to “cast the net” as well. He greatly admires St. Catherine of Siena and desires to imitate her fiery zeal for the faith. Br. Cassian sees the great importance of family life and hopes to use his many gifts to preach and offer the sacraments while at the altar or while leading families on retreats in the great outdoors.

Br. Anselm Dominic LeFave

Br. Anselm Dominic is from Portland, OR. He met the Dominicans at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Eugene while earning a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from University of Oregon. He admires St. Thomas Aquinas not only for his profound intellectual life but also for his tremendous love of Jesus in the Eucharist and his deep friendship with Him. In addition, he draws inspiration from St. Mary Magdalene, who possessed great faith in Jesus’ mercy and is honored as the Apostle to the Apostles. Br. Anselm Dominic enjoys playing basketball and reading the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. He most greatly desires to spend his life carrying the message of mercy to others and inviting them, after the promise of Revelation 3:20, to “open the door” to Christ so as to feast with Him.

Br. Peter Pius Chu

Br. Peter Pius is from Houston, TX where he grew up in a parish staffed by friars of the Dominican Vicariate of Vietnam, Our Lady of LaVang. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from University of St. Thomas in Houston where he was attracted to the Order’s mottos: veritas (truth) and contemplata aliis tradere (to hand on the fruit of one’s contemplation).  Christ’s command to “put out into the deep” (Luke 5:4) gives him confidence to follow the Lord’s call. Further, the fruitfulness of this same encounter with Christ, in which the apostles are astonished at the miraculous catch of fish, gives him great personal encouragement to hold firm to faith and courageously proclaim the Gospel. He desires to cultivate this same faith and trust in Christ when teaching others and when working with youth.

Br. Peter Augustine Hoang

Br. Peter Augustine is from Houston, TX. Dominican sisters educated him when he was young, and he also knew the friars at Our Lady of LaVang parish before moving to Austin and earning a Bachelor of Science and Arts degree in Biology with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Texas. He enjoys sports, cooking, and trying new cuisines, hiking, camping, and reading. His baptismal name is also Peter, and he constantly tries to imitate the faith of his patron saint, trusting in the Lord even when it is difficult. This has been especially true in this past year during which his mother has passed away. Br. Peter Augustine draws hope and consolation from St. Paul’s words to the Romans: “If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8). Inspired by the rich history of the Order of Preachers, he hopes to serve at a Dominican parish in the future.

Br. Jordan Martin

Br. Jordan grew up in Longueuil, Canada and earned a B.A. in Cinema Production from Université du Québec à Montréal in 2012.  In addition to cinema, poetry, and drama, he enjoys hockey, swimming, and baseball. Br. Jordan’s spiritual life was rekindled in 2011 by a wonderful encounter with a Dominican priest in the confessional which prompted him to return to the faith. He greatly admires Bl. Jordan of Saxony, the successor of St. Dominic as Master of the Order of Preachers, who is known for his joy, his zeal for the common life, his encouragement of vocations, and his desire for the salvation of souls. Br. Jordan draws inspiration from Our Lord’s promise, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32). He desires to hand on the Truth to others in campus ministry or while teaching so that many may receive and share the wisdom of God.

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