Well, I've finally made it back to the monastery. (Hey, we really should get together this weekend and come up with a name for this place, it seems like a ship without a rudder without it!)
I've spent the last few days in prayer and retreat with the Dominican community, and one of the things that Fr. Basil there wanted me to do was to write out why I feel called to the OP's versus the Diocesan priesthood.
I've spent the last few days thinking about this, but the silence has been fruitful on my part and I've come to a deeper understanding of things. It centers around a few different aspects of life in each ministry.
First, I felt a great desire to live in a community. I grew up in a small family and have always wanted to have a larger group around me. I have always felt better when I was in a group, whether leading or just following along. It certainly is not that I am scared of being alone, after all I lived on my own for four years while I was working and in earlier stages of discernment. I just feel more comfortable in a community, with all of its faults and failings, that we can support each other in our weaknesses and rejoice together in our successes. (Plus, it's hard to play cards on your own. Yahoo! Euchre is only good for a while.)
Secondly, the charism of the order appeals to me. I love studying, reading, arguing through the minute details that don't bother others. With the Dominicans academic backgrond, I have found enough to be challenged to grow in this area, but yet their spiritual heritage also feeds that side of my soul. I briefly toyed with the CFR's in New York, but their radical embrace of poverty was not something that I felt necessarily drawn to. I don't live extravegence, but I at least need a bed! (bad back)
The wider appeal of the province than just a diocese was something else. We moved around a great deal when I was younger, and my family is scattered to the four winds, so the idea of being 'stuck' in one place was rather boring. I like the possibility of moving between states. It is interesting to see the different ways that Catholicism is practiced, yet it is still universal. Fascinating!
I am glad that Fr. Basil had me do this exercise as it helped narrow down my focus on what I was looking for in the priesthood. I had a great love for the priesthood and wanted to give my life, but I didn't know where that was going. By focusing on the aspects of community, academics, and broader based ministry, I was able to narrow down my search and find how God was leading me into the priesthood.
For anyone who is feeling that call to the priesthood or religious, this might be very helpful. Write down your non-negotiables. What are the ways that God is calling you to follow His invitation. For me, these were important, for you, there might be something else.