Finding Vocation in the Order

From left to right are (back row) Father Carl Schlichte, St. Catherine Siena pastor; Brother Andy Opsahl; Brother Cody Jorgensen; Father Anthony Rosevear, novice master; (front row) Father Peter Do, St. Catherine associate pastor; Brother Carl Paustian; Brother Andrew Dominic Yang; and Brother Thomas Aquinas Pickett

Saint Catherine of Siena/Newman Center parishioners heard the vocation stories of five Dominican novices during the weekend Masses of July 7.

The novices, who entered the order last August, are preparing to take their first vows in September. As part of their formation, they visit various Dominican ministries "so they know what they’re getting into as they’re committing to vows and this life," said Father Anthony Rosevear, novice master for the Western Dominican Province, which has ministries in seven western states as well as Alaska and Mexico.

During his visit, he was "kind of astounded" to see one of his former novices, Father Peter Do, celebrate the Mass, he said, because he remembers when Fr. Do was a novice sharing his own vocation story with the parish, where he is now associate pastor.

On July 8, one of the novices who shared his vocation story was Brother Carl Paustian. He recalls having a typical childhood in Houston, Texas, although "faith didn’t play a big part in our lives," he said. In high school, "I had everything the world told me I needed to be happy: I was materially blessed, I made good grades, I had many friends, but still I felt empty" until a friend invited him to attend a teen Mass. "Kneeling there in the church, for the first time I felt this overwhelming sense of peace. The something that I could tell was missing from my life was found at the Mass," Brother Carl said.

For the next three years he learned more about the Catholic faith. As a senior he read the story of Franciscan Father Gereon Goldmann, who as a seminarian was drafted into Hitler’s SS and later became a member of the German resistance. Brother Carl was so struck by the book that he wrote an essay for his English class, describing his desire to give his life to God in the same way that Fr. Goldmann had. "When I read it out loud to my class, they all laughed and they told me I was absolutely crazy," he recalled. "They told me I was way too smart to be a priest, and how miserable that life must be."

Buckling to peer pressure, Brother Carl dismissed the idea of becoming a priest. Instead, he enrolled in Texas A&M University, where he majored in biology and participated in activities at St. Mary’s Catholic Center.

As graduation neared, he applied to dental school, but had the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. "So for the first time in my life I stopped and I asked God what he wanted me to be, and immediately the thought of the priesthood came back into my mind, as if God himself had placed it there," Brother Carl said.

Becoming a priest meant putting aside his idea of having a perfect family, so he spent months in prayer before deciding to trust the call, he said. He considered becoming a diocesan priest and explored other religious orders before finding what he was looking for in the Dominicans: a strong community life that centered on prayer and study, and the ability to share the Gospel through preaching, he said. "It certainly wasn’t ever part of my plan to be standing up here wearing this Dominican habit, but through prayer I found that it was part of God’s."

Stories such as Brother Carl’s are good for parishioners to hear, said Father Carl Schlichte, St. Catherine of Siena pastor. "It’s good for people to see that there are men interested in Dominican life, and to hear a little bit about why guys would do it in a kind of difficult time in the life of the Church."

By Marie Mischel  - Intermountain Catholic