Carter Powers, a Residential Aspirant to the De La Salle Christian Brothers currently residing with the Joseph Alemany Community at Saint Mary’s College and serving at De La Salle High School in Concord.
I know that the news of me applying to postulancy for the Brothers has brought on strong emotions. I know that my decision can be hard to understand, and I hope that in this letter I can clarify why I am making this decision and what it means for me. I don’t think it has been any secret that I have always naturally had this fascination with God and the Church. I know this obsession has always puzzled you since we don’t pride ourselves on being the most pious and religious family. If I am being honest, why I have always had this fascination has puzzled me as well. For some reason in my heart this desire to seek and experience God has always existed. This desire would inspire me to go to Mass at the most random times, to read anything I could find on God, and also to pick the brain of every priest and religious I encountered. I know throughout my life you have paid attention to this. I have overhead you often discuss my odd fascination with your friends, and remark it’s due to you going to Rome while pregnant with me. No matter the cause, this lifelong desire to seek God serves as one of the foundations of why I am discerning the Brothers. So far, this past year has seemed to allow me to fulfill this desire in ways I never thought possible, and I want to continue to explore if it may be the ultimate way I am called to fulfill this desire of seeking and experiencing God.
I know that the biggest concern for you is that it is “not natural” to be “alone”, and that without intimacy, life can be very depressing and lonely. I totally agree with this statement, and I would add that the mistake people make is that they believe the only way to feel intimacy is with one person, and that loneliness only occurs when you are single. Through living in community and ministry I have been able to discover a way that I am called to love that feels more natural and fulfilling for me right now. I can honestly say that everyday I get to love and be loved by people that make me laugh, think, and experience joy everyday. Does this not sound like the same experience that you are supposed to have in an ideal marriage? The best part is that community life is built around letting me have the professional and spiritual development needed to be the best teacher I can be. Such an environment allows for me to fulfill this longing to be a great teacher while fostering my relationship with God. While this sounds like devoted strictly to my work, it is actually the opposite. It is a life devoted to the joy that comes from serving others. That is how I believe consecrated life is supposed to work. It allows you to consecrate yourself to a mission where you find true happiness. For some that is the mission of marriage, and for me I feel like it may be serving the Lasallian Mission as a Brother. The work of serving the poor through education brings me true joy. This is a feeling I want to explore, and discern what kind of commitment it demands of my life.
I hope that this brief explanation allows you to see why I want to take the next step, and why I see continuing discerning as a Brother can be a rewarding and fulfilling way of life for me. Only time and divine providence will ultimately reveal what God has in store for me. In the meantime I believe that this step will only help me realize where God is calling me to serve him and others.
Two data points :
- Almost half of those in initial formation are under age 30, an increase from the 43 percent who were under age 30 in 2009. Nearly three-fourths of those in initial formation are part of the Millennial Generation (born in the 1980s or 1990s) and another 6 percent, born in 2000 or later, could be considered part of the emerging next generation of young adults.
- Although many new members did not experience a great deal of encouragement from parents, siblings, and other family members when they were first considering a vocation to religious life, 70 percent report that support from their family increased after they entered religious life.
 National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) 2020 Study
photo credits: Library of Congress, Brother Charles, and Carter Powers
2 thoughts on “Entering Religious Life in the 21st Century: A Son’s Letter to His Mother”
This is an outstanding letter of one who is truly discerning. And that discernment is based on a solid base. It is wonderful to hear someone speak of God as a profound influence. I suggest reading the Confessions of Saint Augustine. The details between Carter and Augustine are different but the search is identical.
Thank you for sharing such personal reflections. I am touched by your honesty and vulnerability but also the belief that your search of the truth is founded on faith. Your discernment and journey reminds me how mysterious is the call to a religious vocation. In pondering your thoughts I am challenged to look at my life and give thanks for God’s presence and for the people who have companioned me.