“One for us, and one for you.” – these were the words of the Coptic Orthodox Priest that performed the baptism of Bishoy’s bother. Despite being only five years old at the time, he and everyone else around him understood that these words had a deeper meaning.
Bishoy Professing his Vows
As he reflected on his journey to priesthood, Bishoy remarked that many times it is now later in life that one heeds the call of God. Unlike the times of the past, one does not decide upon a path of faith at an earlier age, for example while just in high school, but instead comes realize their call over the years, as it grows stronger and stronger in their hearts. Analogous to his reflections, Bishoy did not discern his calling right away – instead starting his education in computer science and working at the airport. Over the years however he became much more intrigued in philosophy and theology, and eventually dedicated himself to greater studies at the University of Toronto. It was there he first became acquainted with the Basilians – in particular Morgan Rice, who was his classmate and a Scholastic studying theology at that time.
As he went deeper into his studies, his heart became more set on a career in Theological education, not of just himself but of others; to lead a religious life and to educate others was what made the challenges insignificant when compared to the drive that propelled him to further his commitment, eventually moving on from being an associate to taking on the customary one year and one day of contemplation.
Bishoy described this time in his life as a time of encouragement and of spiritual clarity – everyone including his family and friends were very encouraging of him taking the year to contemplate the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The dynamics of the relationships he had changed during this time. As you go away to contemplate your new life that is filled with a devotion to God and His Way of Life, you are detached from everyone you know for an entire year, however the relationships you have with your family and friends are strengthened as a result of this retreat.
During this time, you contemplate your future life under the three vows – poverty, chastity, and obedience, as well as the sacrifices you have to make as a result of taking these vows. As Bishoy described it, this time of contemplation and study prepares you to take these vows, you learn to discern in your heart if these vows are something you will be able to carry on with you for the rest of your life. There is an easy way of telling if you will or if you will not; it is a feeling of freedom when you see your life under these vows. Bishoy recounts that these vows gave him more freedom than they took away; he did not need to think about all the things he was going to miss out on an or no longer be able to do, instead choosing to focus on the word of God and a life of contemplation of His Word and His Love, “The most important aspect of this is whether you feel as if these vows empower you or whether they restrict you, if you feel the latter then it may not be the right decision for you to take them”.
Bishoy and The Basilian Lay Associates
Of course, despite all the certitude, the decision to resign from material life, to sell your condo and to live in a new community is not a decision that is without challenges. However the act of resigning certain aspects of material life and enhancing aspects that bring out a life of discipline and virtual have an effect of strengthening your relationships and making them more impactful, as you live through the life of Christ and embody His way and His virtues of love and acceptance of anyone. A major help in living such a life comes from the people whom you reside with during this time, other members of the Priest house whom you get to experience daily life with, all the way down to the meals you eat together. A memorable moment from this time to Bishoy was the act of having communal dinners. Every Wednesday and Saturday, all members of the house would engage in preparing dinners for the entire house, taking turns cooking, as well as cleaning up afterwards. At first glace this task is rather simple and perhaps laborious to some, but these moments were the ones that were the most memorable, as the memories from these shared dinners still live on as the most impactful, for it was during these times true reassurance from others was felt in that this way is the way that Bishoy was meant to take.
Wrapping up, Bishoy had returned to the idea of heeding the call later in life as one of the advice to anyone who may be lost in a life devoid of faith and looking for a deeper connection to their spirituality. “I have lots of experiences in life and work and if you discern you call at a later time in your life, you form better relationships that are devoid of judgement and a full of understanding and acceptance, and the Basilians are very welcoming to everyone regardless of age’. Another advice Bishoy had was to not isolate yourself – “The voice of God comes from prayer and other people’. We often get trapped in echo chambers of our own doing and avoid the ideas of others fearing judgement and criticism. However, God speaks to us in many way, one of which is other people, and heeding the words of others is often times heeding the call of God. Do not isolate yourself, talk to others and hear what they have to say, often times you will find more encouragement and a more well thought out way of doing things that you already wanted to do.
Bishoy and Fr. Kevin J. Storey, CSB.
At this stage of his journey, Bishoy has an optimistic outlook. After another 2 years of Seminary, he hopes he will have an opportunity to teach younger children, already having a great and rewarding experience after working as a high school educator. Let us offer our prayers to Bishoy and wish hi all the best in his future Scholastic, educational, and spiritual endeavours.