Fr. Jerome Lavigne
‘A Generation DYING For Meaning…’
St. Gregory once said – “Our Eternal Salvation depends principally on embracing the state to which God has called us.” For the person who makes a mistake in their Vocation mistakes the way that has been set out for him or her by God to attain everlasting life…
Through those words, one can’t help but get a sense that the longer we travel down the wrong path in life, the more distance we place between ourselves and the perfection of God’s will being accomplished. In the words St. Augustine, “You run well, but on the wrong road…” In the end, only time will tell if we will have come to live out our lives following the right path. But as of this moment, one thing is certain; the Holy Spirit has been working in such a way so that our paths might intersect at this point in time.
I was born in Hull, Quebec, in the year 1974. In 1982, my immediate family relocated to Calgary, Alberta. As far as my own journey of life goes, I blindly ran down many wrong roads before taking the path of the priesthood. I’ll forever recall attending a ‘career day’ while back in high school. On that day, I walked around aimlessly throughout the gym bouncing from one career booth to another with an emptiness in my heart that no career choice ever would or could seemingly fill. While my peers were excited at all the opportunities out there, for whatever reason, nothing spoke to me.
And so, without a sense of direction, I went on to enter the workforce immediately following high school. While I might not have known what career to embrace, I did know what I wanted out of life, “success”. Fuelled by an insatiable appetite to make it in the world, over the course of the next 6 years I embarked upon every opportunity I could find that I believed was going to bring me closer to that goal. I went from working for Public Works to being a personal trainer, to being part-owner manager of a gym, to operating heavy equipment, to selling cars, to partnering up with a friend and establishing a fund-raising company.
Regardless of the lifestyle I lived or how satisfied I was with the work I did, deep down inside, I felt very unfulfilled. The more I sought success in the world, the more I found emptiness in my heart. By the time my 24th birthday loomed in the near future, I came to the realization that I was nowhere close to accomplishing what I figured I should have attained so far in life, and so I had a “one on one” with our Lord. On that fateful night, I prayed the following words out loud:
“You know Lord, I don’t know what it is that you want from me. All I know is that I’ve been living this life for myself long enough. I’ve been doing what I want, when I want, where I want, with who I want without ever finding where it is that I’m supposed to be, and I’m tired… So here’s the deal – I’m now giving my life back to you to do with it whatever you want, for this life was never mine to begin with. After all, I didn’t create myself, you did. So do with me whatever you want. All I’m asking is that you get me there, wherever it is that you want me to be…”
Over the course of the following months, interior darkness and confusion took shape within me. During that time, the only thing I knew for certain was that I no longer cared for “success.” All I thirsted for was internal peace and I could find it nowhere. Thus began the awakening to a call to the priesthood being made manifest within my heart.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church it states: “No one claims the office of the priesthood for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders” (CCC 440). I stand before you today as a priest of Jesus Christ – not because it was something I ever wanted to do with my life – but because I surrendered my life back to Him and He did with it what He always wanted to do.
I leave you with the ‘WHY?’ of a Priest’s existence, which was beautifully expressed through the final words spoken by Cardinal Bernardin prior to his death:
“The priest of Jesus Christ is, first and foremost, the one who bears the mystery of God and initiates others into it… In carrying out this task, one is most authentically a priest. The priest stands on the horizon between God and the world; carrying the prayers, hopes, anguish, and joy of the People of God, and calling down the Divine Fire, the transformative power of the Mystery.”