October 10, 2021 - The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Student Brother Corner
Born and raised between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in Clearwater, Florida, I was an exchange student in Germany before college and subsequently studied chemical engineering and German at the University of Pennsylvania. After working in a biology lab in Austria, I went to medical school at Duke University. Pursuing further training in pediatric radiology, I interpreted x-rays, ultrasounds, CTs, and MRIs and practiced as a physician for multiple years, most recently at the Cleveland Clinic.
Having grown up in an evangelical nondenominational Christian community, I am grateful for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ in prayer since childhood and a foundation of Christian morality. However, not being rooted in any particular denomination, I noticed that it was difficult to decide on a spiritual home after I left Florida. A Catholic medical school classmate, Joe, made a powerful impression on me. He would invite non-Catholic friends to his parish and explain how Catholicism is reasonable. Despite several trials including health problems and the death of his grandfather, he remained joyful, and for this persistent joy, he credited his Catholic faith. Through his example as well as much study, prayer, and the grace of God, I was received into the Catholic Church.
Coming from a Protestant background with no tradition of celibate priesthood or religious life, I had assumed since childhood that I would marry and have children. Joe, however, emphasized the importance of embracing one’s vocation. He had considered priesthood and religious life and ultimately discerned that he was called to marriage, but he stressed that I should take time to ponder these states in life. While I was contemplating whether to enter religious life, I encountered multiple vibrant communities, but none seemed like the right fit. When I lived in Cleveland, my pastor, Father Ireland, was a diocesan priest who was also a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. He had completed his doctorate at the Angelicum, the Dominican university in Rome, and his thesis advisor was none other than the late Auxiliary Bishop of San Francisco, Bishop Robert Christian! Knowing some friars of the Western Dominican Province, Father Ireland suggested that I journey westward for a visit, and the rest is history.
If my face looks familiar, you might remember me from my time as a novice at St. Dominic’s in 2018-2019. After studying philosophy and theology for the past two years at St. Albert’s in Oakland, I am grateful to be back at St. Dominic’s for the upcoming year. In addition to teaching confirmation and preparing couples for the sacrament of holy matrimony, I will be assisting with RCIA and other events in the parish. I look forward to gaining more experience in pastoral ministry and to serving you. You might see me greeting people before and after Mass, playing the organ, or running up and down the hills of San Francisco – feel free to come up to me and to say hello! You are in my prayers, and I ask you to keep me in yours. In Christ,
Brother Luke Maria, O.P.