Deacon Alex Osborne reflects on Vocation
Vocation is quite a hard topic to write on, or at least to do so with any certainty. When we discuss vocation, we’re really asking the question “Why did God make me, and what does he want me to do with my life?” This side of heaven we will never have a full answer.
The Church teaches that God created us out of pure and perfect love for our own sake. We are the only creatures here on earth who are able to know and love the God who made us. We are not something, but someone. We are not animals, we are people. As comforting as this truth is, it fills our mind with wonder and questions. It was these questions, “Who am I?”, “Why do I exist?”, “Why does anything exist?” and “What’s the point?” that first prompted me on this journey.
I was born in Liverpool, England, to a decent and quietly Catholic family. I believe God gives us families because they shape who we become and we share experiences. I certainly wouldn’t have the faith if my mother didn’t have hers.
Moving to Australia changed a lot. All of a sudden I was a stranger in a strange land. We really didn’t have too much in the way of family here. Our parish took in and supported our family. Really, they became our community.
I was twelve and looking for my identity, when I found the Church. She was one of the only familiar things in this country. Later that year, something happened to me in the sacrament of Confirmation, and ever since then, the question of becoming a priest was in my heart.
Outside of the parish, I have to say I was a pretty lonely Catholic, indeed at times, I honestly thought I was last Catholic teenager in Australia… if not the world. There was a real tension, a pressure to live a so-called ‘normal life.’ My faith was becoming a more and more integral part to my life, and I felt like if I stopped I would lose so much of myself.
At about the age of fifteen I took to reading, I stole my brothers copy of the lives of the saints, and read it four or five times over. I read the entire bible, one chapter at a time, in three years. There was something inside of me that was so hungry to learn more. It was around this time I fell in love with the Church. She wasn’t old, grey, cynical, negative and unwelcoming, She was the bride of Christ, young, beautiful, intriguing, radiant with the reflected glory of God.
I became obsessed! My heroes were Pope St. John Paul II, St. Augustine of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket and the thousands of other inspirational Catholics. When I learned of how much good the Church has brought to world, how She dragged Europe out of the dark ages, how She founded universities, charities, hospitals, indeed how She has been the most significant moral force in human history, my heart caught flame. At eighteen I felt that I couldn’t do anything else than devote my life to Her. I would not let the Church disappear with me.
I expected when I joined the seminary that there’d only be about six or seven others, all probably fifty or sixty years old. I never expected that there would be forty young men in their twenties, and that I would join a class of nine. I also never anticipated being the only one of those nine to receive ordination, or that seminary would take eight years.
My diaconate, I am sure I’ll remember among the happiest years of my life. It’s been incredible to be living my dream, as someone who thought they were the last Catholic, I have definitely been proven wrong! I have seen so much growth. Our schools are full!
There are young families in every parish! Our young adults are organising themselves and reading catechisms! Youth groups are springing up, left, right and centre, and so many men and women are offering themselves in all of the ministries of the Church. For me this is the greatest privilege of ordained ministry, being able to get to know and meet so many people and to see that God is at work in all of our hearts.
It gives me great pleasure to invite you all to my ordination to the priesthood, on the thirtieth of August, at 6pm St. Christopher’s Cathedral. Please pray for me as I offer my life to your service. God bless,
Deacon Alex Osborne