A Journey of Faith - Br Charles' Final Vows

Vocations Final Vows Br Charles

Amidst the ongoing joy of the Easter season, our diocese witnessed a beautiful and inspiring event: Brother Charles made his final vows as a member of the Community of St John. Watching this young man, his face radiant with happiness, was a moving reminder that God continues to call young people to dedicate themselves entirely to His service, even in a world that sometimes seems to forget Him.

The tradition of final vows — committing oneself to poverty, chastity and obedience — has deep roots in the history of Christianity. Early followers of Christ sought to wholeheartedly emulate His example, living simple lives in community with one another. Over time, monastic and religious orders developed, formalising these promises as a way for men and women to radically dedicate themselves to God.

While the world has changed, the heart of this commitment remains: by intentionally choosing a simple life, forgoing exclusive romantic love and surrendering complete self-determination, those who take religious vows gain a unique freedom to love and serve God and others with even greater generosity. They become living witnesses, reminding us of the higher realities that give our lives meaning.

Vocations Final Vows Br Charles 1
Vocations Final Vows Br Charles 2

The Significance of the Vows

While all Christians are called to a life of virtue, the religious vows represent a special path. The vow of poverty is a powerful choice against the world’s obsession with material possessions and status. By choosing to live without personal wealth, Br Charles frees himself from earthly concerns, trusting that his needs will be met in the community. Most importantly, this simplicity allows him to prioritise his service to others and share the love of Christ.

The vow of chastity might seem particularly challenging, but it is about more than abstaining from sexual activity. It is about redirecting one’s capacity
for love towards God and all humanity. Through chastity, Br Charles opens his heart more fully to Divine love and is better able to share that love with those he encounters. It allows him to love with the heart of a father, a brother and a true spiritual friend.

The Journey of Br Charles

Brother Charles’ journey is a remarkable testament to the universality of God’s call. Born in India, he has traveled through the Philippines and now resides here in Christchurch. “Looking back at my journey in religious life,” he reflects, “I feel very grateful for the faithfulness of God in leading me to the knowledge and love of Him. Moving towards perpetual vows, I am waiting in expectation to see the wonders of God, done in my heart and done in the hearts of people around me.”

He first entered the Community of St John in 2017, spending nine months in Pondicherry (India) and arriving in Cebu (the Philippines) in July 2018. In October 2022, he joined us here in Christchurch and soon, he will continue his journey to Rome for his studies.

The Mass for Final Vows is a ceremony rich in meaning and symbolism. We see Christ’s presence in the rituals, the music and the priest’s vestments. But for me, three moments stood out as particularly poignant.

Vocations Final Vows Br Charles 3
Vocations Final Vows Br Charles 4

As Br Charles sang, “Receive me, O Lord, according to your Word and I shall live, and do not fail me in my hope”, he stretched his arms wide, as if embracing not just Christ, but the whole world in his love. When he lay face down on the floor, it was an act of true humility, of placing himself entirely at the mercy of God. Finally, when he said the words “poverty, chastity and obedience until Death.”

Here at Holy Family, we have been so blessed to have Brother Charles with us these past two years. His work with our altar servers, his ever-present smile and his gentle spirit, have touched us all. We are a bit sad to see him go, but above all, feel excitement and hope for his future.

Let us keep Br Charles in our prayers as he continues on this remarkable journey of faith. May his final vows be a source of joy, strength and ever-deepening love for Christ and His Church.

by friend Michael Therese Scheerger, CSJ

Published in Inform Issue 141 - Winter 2024