On July 14th of this year, the Lord blessed me with the entrance into my first year of promises with SOLT. The journey has been wonderful, fun, and trying. It all started in 2015 when I volunteered for SOLT at Mount Carmel High School in Benque Viejo, Belize. Little did I know that I would be blessed to take first promises with this missionary community four years later in Corpus Christi, Texas. Those two years in Belize helped to transform me from being an assuming college-educated young man into a less-assuming student of the Holy Spirit—He worked and is still working through various relationships in my life.
Our Lord showered me with companions and mentors from among the staff at Mount Carmel High School. I gained friends whom I hope to have for the rest of my life. Although mentors guided me and my friends supplied fantastic moments of humor and joy, I struggled my first year. New to teaching and Belizean culture, I waded through the first semester trying to stay a day ahead of my students. They quickly caught on to the fact that I was a stressed and inexperienced teacher. Instead of milking it to the last drop, however, they began volunteering to help me and to quiet the class for me. In a sense, I became a student again.
As I came to the end of the year, a priest suggested that I ask myself what my heart was telling me to do for the coming year. I realized that God had been giving me grace all year from the Mass and the prayers of my loved ones. My heart said to do it again for the kids and the other teachers. My second year rewarded and edified me. As I continued to learn by teaching, I was able to help new volunteers as I was helped the year before. When I finished my second year, it became clear that I wanted to be near SOLT, the community that had shown me graced friendship and my call to a deeper relationship with God and my brothers and sisters. I moved on to the novitiate, and now, one year later, God has brought me to the seminary in Detroit as a SOLT brother.
Br. Andrew Rowedder, SOLT