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Photo: Chao Wang
Both Br. Andy Davy, MIC, (left) and Br. Ken Dos Santos, MIC, began their Christian education at home, through their parents.
Two Marian seminarians will profess final vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience on Saturday, Aug. 16. In doing so, they will become permanent members of the Congregation of Marians of the Immaculate Conception. The ceremony will take place at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy on Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Mass.
Brother Ken Dos Santos, MIC, and Br. Andy Davy, MIC, have a lot more in common than their call to religious life — a call summed up by Pope John Paul II in a Papal Blessing in which he urged the Marian Congregation to "be Apostles of The Divine Mercy, under the maternal and loving guidance of Mary ..."
Indeed, what they have in common has a lot to say about the nature of vocation, the immeasurable value of a firm foundation of faith, and the essential role of Our Blessed Mother in finding the way to her Son, Jesus, The Divine Mercy.
Brother Andy Davy's father, Mike Davy, was ordained to the permanent deaconate of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., on June 28 of this year at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. Brother Ken Dos Santos's father, Ken Dos Santos Sr., was ordained to the permanent deaconate of the Archdiocese of Hartford 30 years ago at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Hartford, Conn. Both of these young men have been blessed by parents who taught them, by word and example, that there is nothing more important in life than faith and service to God.
Their parents are shining examples of what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about the ideal of Catholic family life:
In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica [domestic Church]. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example ... the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation."
It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment." Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous — even repeated — forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life (1656-57).
When Br. Ken was just 11 years old, he and his younger brother, Richard, served at the altar at their dad's ordination. Though he didn't understand what ordination meant at the time, he recalls, "It was beautiful. I definitely remember him being prostrate. That's the one thing that sticks in my mind. I remember thinking he would be changed." Brother Ken says he and his dad have always been close, though his father is not someone who talks much about his feelings. His actions speak loudly enough.
What did his father teach him about fatherhood and how has he prepared him to be a spiritual father?
"He taught me about prayer," Br. Ken says. "I saw him pray, and he involved me in prayer. He also gave me the example of a faithful man. He was always a fair person, even when I was being disciplined for something."
In addition to serving as a deacon in his parish, Ken Dos Santos Sr. has functioned as director of Religious Education. The Dos Santos family prayed the Rosary together, and Alice Dos Santos, Br. Ken's mom, saw to it that her children were well catechized. "Our parents taught us that the most important thing in life is to be always faithful," says Br. Ken.
Deacon Dos Santos says he is "very proud and joyful" that his son "has chosen to answer the call to the priesthood and has chosen that path through Mary, Our Queen and Our Mother, with the Marians of the Immaculate Conception."
When Br. Andy Davy's dad was ordained on June 28, like Br. Ken had with his father, Br. Andy was serving at the altar.
"I couldn't wait for my dad's ordination!" says Br. Andy. "My dad and I were always close, but in these past four years, during my seminary formation and my dad's preparation for the deaconate, we have grown much closer." Brother Andy observed that "in many ways we were going through very similar formation at the same time."
Brother Andy highlighted how his father's faithful example played an important role in his spiritual life: "As a young child, I remember watching my dad bow his head during the consecration at Mass. I found myself imitating him, which led me at a young age to be open to Jesus in the Eucharist."
The important role of Mother Mary seems to be the common denominator in the lives of these two young men. Both of their families demonstrated a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin. At times, both young men struggled in their devotion to Mary. Now they have freely consecrated their lives, to be her sons in Christ, as perpetually professed members of the Marian Congregation. They learn from her and are formed by her, that they may love Jesus Christ, The Divine Mercy, as she did!
While their particular vocations are different, these fathers and sons are consecrated in the same reality. Christopher West, in the glossary of Theology of the Body for Beginners, explains Pope John Paul II's teaching on how these vocations complement each other:
... Christian celibacy and Christian marriage do not conflict or compete with each other; rather, they enrich and complement each other. Marriage reveals the "nuptial" character of celibacy just as celibacy reveals the sacramental orientation of marriage.
Our Blessed Mother led both fathers and sons to become the men God created them to be, just as she did with Jesus.
"When I gave my heart to this call seven years ago," Br. Andy says, "the Lord filled me with a peace, 'a peace surpassing all understanding,' as St. Paul says (see Phil 4:7)." He sums up, "I can't wait to give myself fully to God in religious life!"
In Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II says this about the domestic Church, "The future of humanity passes through the family." The Dos Santos and Davy families have shown this to be a living reality in their service to the Church.
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