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Pawel Ratajcak -Oblate Scholastic


I ended up a Catholic religious because something was missing. I felt an
emptiness in my life that could not be filled with the usual methods.
About 4 years ago I was a typical university student, hoping for a career in law
after completing a political science degree. I lived on campus and heartily
participated in the whole range of social activities so particular to young
adults living in a university residence. I was also involved in student
government, and volunteered for a legal advice office, hoping to make an
admission to law school more probable. I had good friends, good grades, and a
good plan for life. There, however, was something missing.

I found that a possible vocation to the priesthood had been bothering me like
a bothersome mosquito for some time. To be honest, I was not totally
thrilled about becoming a priest or a religious - I had my ``good`` plan. I tried
filling the gap that I felt within with more social activities, and more
student involvement but it returned -- as persistent as ever. Because of
this emptiness at one point I even lost interest in continuing my studies. At that
point however God gave me an indication that I should follow Him in entirety.

After some research among different dioceses and religious orders I decided
to try the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. They were the religious congregation I
was most familiar with, since they founded and continue to serve in my home
parish. I attended a pre-novitiate program: this is a period of several
months when young men, interested in the lifestyle of a religious, live in an
Oblate community. During this time I became more certain of my vocation, but
the time of real decision came in the year-long novitiate. I spent these 12
months of intensive spiritual development in a 11th century monastery on a
lonely mountaintop in Poland, along with 31 other candidates. On September 8
2000, the year of the Great Jubilee, I pronounced my first vows of chastity,
poverty and obedience.

I am now 25 years old, and continue my studies in theology hoping to be
ordained in several years. I share the joys and sorrows of religious life
with fellow Oblate scholastics, studying for the priesthood. For reasons
I cannot fathom Jesus has asked me to follow him in a special way: this, with
the help of his grace, I hope to do living as an Oblate of Mary Immaculate.