Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity are proud of student Fr. Brendan Creeden OSB from Monastery of the Holy Cross (chicagomonk.org) who was taught by our Sisters in Manistique, Michigan. Father Brendan responds to some questions regarding his discernment of his vocation.
Tell us about your call. Did you always want to become a religious? If not, how did that desire begin to form?
You asked if I always wanted to be a religious. I felt attracted to religious life very early in grade school where I was taught by sisters of your community. I remember all the sisters who taught me and how they imbued me with a love for the Catholic faith. My Grandmother was also a strong influence on me. When I was confirmed she gave me a copy of Thomas Merton’s “Seven Story Mountain” which drew me to consider monastic life but when I was 20 years old I chose to enter an active community of foreign missionaries. It took 15 years to finally begin exploring the monastic side of my vocation. I entered a monastery in Paris, France and ultimately helped establish a similar community in the US. Our community is a contemplative Benedictine monastery but it blends both sides of my vocation, the missionary and the contemplative because we chose to locate ourselves in the city where we evangelize not by an active ministry but simply by praying the liturgy of the Church and open our doors for people to join us.
What fears did you have about vocations in general as you discerned religious life?
Fears. I don’t know if I had any fears about giving myself to Christ in religious life. The desire to enter consecrated life had been percolating inside me for so long that I never doubted that Christ had called me. My only question was should I be a parish priest or a monk? As it happened, I got to be both. I worked in parishes from Vermont to Texas, and from Michigan to Minnesota before I finally decided to respond to what I knew as a monastic vocation.
What things did you learn about yourself in the process of discernment?
What did I learn in discernment? That’s a tough question but I certainly learned that I am impatient (a trait I inherited from my Irish father). Most importantly, I learned that living in a community is the primary asceticism of religious life because it challenges one to practice the virtues all the time. Religious life can be a challenge in this way, but it is also deeply satisfying. I have also learned to love the liturgy as the privileged place of encounter with Christ.
How has religious life changed your life? Physically, spiritually, emotionally, materially, etc.?
How has religious life changed me? I think I have learned over the years to trust my intuition more. I often tell novices that children are good observers and poor interpreters. It means learning how to observe (the ability to observe is, in my opinion, the baseline of contemplative life) but to refrain from drawing conclusions too quickly. Spiritually I have come to see that thoughts really do matter: what we think has consequences not only for our inner life but also for how we live with others and our relationship with God.
What advice do you have for young adults who feel God is calling them to consecrated life?
Advice to young people who feel called to consecrated life? Do not be afraid. That is the most frequent commandment in the bible.