My Vocation Story
By Fr. Joby Antony Palukkunnel CMF
When I think of my vocation to religious life, I start to appreciate the role of my family because my parents were very devoted to the Holy Eucharist and they insisted we participate in the Holy Eucharist especially on Holy Days. I went with my brother to our parish’s school which helped us to grow in the grace of God. I could also feel the important role played by friends in the school which I cannot leave out. We had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary once in a week in school organized especially for the Catholic children. I used to participate in the rosary and other prayers with my own friends in the school who encouraged me to be an altar server for the Holy Eucharist in the parish. These were the moments that made me think: why couldn’t I become a priest for Christ, to serve and proclaim the marvelous deeds that he has done for humanity?
When I shared my desire with my parents, they encouraged me and asked me to pray well before making the decision. I also shared my desire with our parish priest. He opened the way for me to enter the diocesan seminary. But I had the desire to become a religious priest because of the community life I saw in the religious community that was in charge of our school. When I expressed that to the parish priest, he encouraged me. He introduced me to the Claretians. He had contact with the Claretians because his uncle was among the first members of the Claretians to be sent from our diocese in India to Germany to complete their Claretian formation, become Claretian Missionaries and open missions in India. He knew the Claretian congregation very well. I had the chance to stay with the Claretian community which was near to my home town. While was with them they took care of me well. I was inspired by the community life, prayer life and the service they did for people.
I am inspired by the definition of a Claretian. I found out that Claretians are called to be Sons of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The devotion towards the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist, which I cherished from childhood, really helped me decide to enter the Claretian congregation. I learned that St. Claret also had special devotions to the Virgin Mary and Holy Eucharist. His love towards the Eucharist really helped him to use all means possible to proclaim the Gospel message to people. I see even today that our congregation is open to use all means possible to proclaim the Gospel, using all the instruments and platforms available. I feel this openness is very important in today’s world because it help us to organize ourselves, respecting the culture of the place. It helps the people to welcome us and we can easily feel at home.
“Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity - the fire of love of God and neighbor - it will work wonders.” These words of St. Antony Mary Claret always help me to proclaim the Good News of God filled with love for God. Love for God helps us always be close to God. This closeness to God will reflect in the day-to-day life of our community. The same love helps us to serve others without prejudice.
May God bless us.
Are you attracted to the idea of community life in a religious community? Do you have a devotion to the Virgin Mary and the Eucharist? Are you inspired by serving others? You might be called to be a Claretian Missionary! Get in touch with our Vocation Director today so he can accompany you in your discernment.