Br Joseph Pham

I was born and grew up in the western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. My family belonged to a Capuchin parish and, in fact, it was late in life before I realised that not all priests wore brown habits!

I began to seriously hear my call to religious life during the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney. The theme of the event was Acts 1:8, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses”. It was during the Saturday night benediction, with the Eucharist in the hands of Pope Benedict XVI, that the Holy Spirit completely overwhelmed me and I felt the sure presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.

The following day, during the celebration of the Eucharist, I experienced the Lord’s Mercy in the Eucharist; I was certain I could never forget these moments for the rest of my life. I felt the Spirit call me to a new way of life and felt excited about living my life through faith in Jesus Christ. I understood the Spirit might be calling me to the Priesthood. I initially considered the Dominican Order and then the Diocesan seminary, however, neither felt right with me. I knew the Capuchins but was somewhat hesitant; I didn’t feel they appealed to me, particularly the habit!

My journey of discernment became more serious when I began Spiritual Direction with none other than a Capuchin brother. At this time, a friend of mine, who is an Immaculata Sister, felt that I needed to read about Padre Pio and so gave me a book about his life. I came to realise that St Pio’s example of priesthood was everything that I was yearning for; I had been drawn to a life with the Capuchins.

Postulancy began on the feast of the Presentation of Mary, 21st November 2009. Life with the Capuchins in the Australian Province was a very rewarding experience; I was able to spend considerable time listening to the Lord and learning His ways through the example of St Francis and through the spirituality of our fraternal, minor and contemplative life. Although Postulancy held many trials for me, it did clearly reveal to me the invitation of a vocation to religious life.

The decision to embrace the next stage of the journey at the Novitiate in Pittsburgh owes itself to the many graces I received from Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Americas. Once I crossed that body of water called the Pacific Ocean, I knew my life would never be the same again. Now, as I come to finish my Novitiate I know this statement to be so true. I have received graces beyond my imagination through the people I have met, places I have seen and through this year of spending time away with the Lord.

Reprinted from "The Caperone" Vol. II, Issue 10