OLG parishioner called to explore vocation as a Franciscan
A Holy Call to the Holy Land
GREENSBORO — A holy call is leading Benjamin Rumley of Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro to the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America, located in Washington, D.C.
"I hope this special time in my life will help me to grow in love for Christ and in detachment from the distractions of the world," shared Rumley in a recent interview.
Father Christopher Davis, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church, saw Rumley's call to a religious vocation early on. He met Rumley about four years ago, when Father Davis was serving as pastor of St. Joseph Church in Asheboro.
"I think it is a good fit," Father Davis said. "His love for the poor and marginalized fits well with the charism of the Holy Land Franciscans."
Rumley is a North Carolina native and was valedictorian of his class at Eastern Randolph High School. He graduated from Washington and Lee University and has most recently worked at the Greensboro Urban Ministry. Raised a Quaker, he converted to Catholicism in 2009.
"I would say the way that I was raised had a lot to do with appreciating silence, discernment and simplicity of living," Rumley said.
"I began considering religious life once I began investigating the lives of the saints and the radical vows that religious take," he added. "It seems like the most complete and romantic way of giving oneself to God."
To get a little taste of the Holy Land, Rumley spent part of Holy Week in 2011 with the friars at the monastery in Washington, D.C., called the Monastery of Mount St. Sepulchre. The monastery replicates many of the shrines and sites from that ancient part of the world, while housing friars who have served in various ways themselves in the Holy Land.
"Our faith is incarnational," Rumley said. "So much like God changes our hearts through the physical means of the sacraments, so too did He change human history through the geography and landscape of the Holy Land – first by means of the Israelites, and then through Christ Himself," he said.
According to Father Jacob-Matthew Smith, vocations director at the monastery, the formation process lasts about two and a half years. Candidates spend eight months at the monastery before going to the Holy Land to continue their formation process. At the monastery, they learn how to lead prayer, serve at Mass and distribute Holy Communion. They also minister to the homeless in the area, and they study Scripture and the lives of Sts. Francis and Clare. They also learn Italian and how care for historic church assets, besides taking exercise classes to prepare them for all the walking they will do once in the Holy Land.
"The purpose for the formation program here is to help prepare our candidates for service in the Holy Land," Father Smith said. He noted that they are readied to serve as peacemakers in a chaotic and sometimes violent area that the world's three great religions consider holy, and where world politics have collided for generations.
"While guarding the holy sites for all of Christianity, their role is to be open to service to all who come to them needing help, whether they be Christian, Jew, Muslim or otherwise," he said.
One major aspect of the candidacy program that Rumley said he likes is that it serves as sort of a "safe zone" in which to do serious and focused discernment. "It is somewhat more open and free than a novitiate," he said.
And so he hopes and prays for God's direction during this time. "If he wants me in this order, wonderful! If he wants me somewhere else, wonderful! I just ask for the grace to follow Him one day at a time."
— Georgianna Penn, correspondent
Get a look yourself
At www.myfranciscan.org: Read more and take a virtual tour of the Monastery of Mount St. Sepulchre, a National Historic Site and pilgrimage site for thousands since 1899.
FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy