Posted for Br. Richard LeFevre, n/OEF who hopes to make life vows this summer.
I will begin to say that my religious formation was at times difficult, but at all times necessary. It challenged me and loved me at the same time. I found that the key is to remain open to any of the possibilities for change both in myself and in my relationships to those around me. The most significant lesson I learned during my initial formative years with OEF was about integrity. I was held accountable for my actions more than once. It’s not always easy to be honest with others, even more so when it involved being honest with myself. This lesson of integrity was a huge learning curve in my personal and professional development, spilling into almost every facet of my life. As scary as it was to face my demons, I came out every time knowing God’s grace.
To date, my ongoing challenge in religious formation is developing, and most times adhering, to an active prayer life that continues to excite and inspire me. OEF formation welcomes us to learn about different forms and procedures of prayer, but if prayer cannot move the soul, then sometimes it causes me to wonder how helpful it is. In the past I have always said that tears were a true sign of a powerful prayer and always heard by God. Now, I also honor the idea of a somewhat planned prayer life. It assists us with staying connected to God and others on a regular basis. It was only a matter of time before I buried my excuses and came alive again through prayer, especially intercessory prayer.
My longing for the Ordered life began in the early 90’s when I first sought out a connection with a religious Order. I was seeking an outlet where I could aspire to inspire others through service, prayer, and love. Unfortunately, I discovered I could no longer profess conventional vows in that order, as a gay male who fell in love with another man for the first time. Needless to say, as I am writing this today, my search for religious life continued. OEF, deeply ecumenical in spirit, welcomes many kinds of people who have a deep connection to Saints Francis & Clare of Assisi as well as being in communion with God’s people.
After profession I will continue to assist with putting OEF on the map, by serving as a loyal example that our precious young Order is anything like the cookie cutter image some people have of vowed men and women. I want to contribute through the expressive arts (song, sign language, book authorship), along with my ministry to our local homeless neighbors. I am so grateful that all of these gifts of love will keep me connected to my Ecumenical Franciscan family.