Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas, who has a master’s in counseling and works with youth in detention centers and with alcoholic recovery on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, says the most common response he gets when people learn about his vocation is: “Why would you just be a Brother?”
Br. Douglas says that while it hurts to hear this comment because “just” denotes some kind of lesser than or lacking, the question does seems to reflect many people’s thoughts on vocation in the Catholic faith.
He writes, “There seems to be a mentality that if one wants to serve God it can only be done through the priesthood…If God is the focus of one’s life it can never be a ‘just’ or lacking in any way.”
As far as his desire to serve as a brother, rather than a priest, he writes, “I guess one never fully knows and that is where faith comes in, but I do know what makes my heart happy and my soul sing and that is being a brother.”
Without the priorities specific to the vocation of a priest or married man, such as sacramental ministry or children, Douglas writes that as a brother he is “free to focus all his energy on his prayer, work and community life.”