Making the Immaculate Conception My Own

By Br. David, MIC

Growing up in Azusa, California, I went to Mass every Sunday with my family. Afterward, we would come home, have a big breakfast, rest, and watch movies together. But when I was a teenager, suddenly my school and work schedule did not allow me to go Mass with my parents anymore. So I decided to start going to Mass on my own as soon as work was over. Though at first I felt awkward going to Mass by myself, this step helped me make my faith my own.

In 2008, I went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in a group along with my mother and my parish priest. This experience brought me deeper in my faith than I had ever gone. I realized I could receive the Lord every day at Mass. I could see Him in Adoration. I could hear Him in the Word of God. After that, I started attending daily Mass and spending a lot of time in Adoration. Through this experience, I learned to make my prayer life my own.

At the time, I was working at Walgreens Corporation in the manager training program. I had been saving money to get married and buy a house so that I could move out of my parents' place. But that changed in 2010.

As I continued to pray to the Lord in Adoration, I felt the call to the priesthood in the silence of my heart. Around this time, I saw the testimony of Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. I remembered back to when Fr. Donald gave a few talks at Santa Teresita Chapel near my home years before. I made plans to attend a "come and see" retreat with the Marians in Steubenville, Ohio.

On that retreat, Fr. Calloway gave a great presentation on the religious life and the importance of the Blessed Mother. I appreciated the fellowship of all the Marians on that retreat. I applied, and in 2011, entered as a one-year postulant. I've continued to persevere in my formation ever since. The challenges early in my formation came as I went back to school. It had been years since I was in studies, so I felt a little rusty. Once we say "yes" to God, there are always challenges. But we just need to remember why we are called to a specific vocation in life and that God will help us to persevere.

Since joining, my Marian superiors have continually helped me foster a deeper spirituality through understanding how the grace of the Immaculate Conception that the Blessed Virgin Mary received shines as an example for us to follow and to live out. We can do this by recognizing the gratuitous graces that God has poured out upon all of us throughout our lives. Grace comes to us from God - it is not our own possession. The only things we can call our own are our personal sins.

Through the Blessed Virgin Mary's Immaculate Conception, she does not have any sins to give to God. This is a true blessing that fills her with grace and provides for her a life of virtue and holiness. The more we meditate on that spiritual reality, the more we can recognize, appreciate, and thank God for what He has done and continues to do for us. Though Mary is first in the order of grace, through her intercession and through God's grace, He can do all things with us. The more I have come to realize this, the more I have been able to make my belief in the Immaculate Conception my own.

Please pray for me as I continue my formation on my journey to the priesthood.

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