I am one of those who probably always knew, at least from the age of ten or so. Was I inspired by a priest? Yes, one priest in particular, but for some reason I didn’t set out to become a Diocesan Priest. I joined the Redemptorists, and when I realized that I could no longer continue there, it was the memory of his example that kept the dream alive within me and at 28 I was ordained in Hawera.
Was there family influence? Yes, but not pressure. My mother was always assuring me that I was to do this only if God was calling. She was terrified I might think I had to do it to please her. I think it is from this memory I have come to realise that the Will of God is the basis of our spirituality.
Was there influence from other sources? Yes, the Sisters of St Joseph and the Marist Brothers must bear some of the blame! We’ve listened to a lot of criticism of these educators over the years but to me it’s undeserved and certainly not my experience. Who could not appreciate the encouragement and concern of those men and women? Tough people? Of course! Mad, bad or sad? You must be joking.
When I look back at how it all happened, I understand that we do influence one another. St Paul says something about it…the life and death of each of us has its influence on others. If we live, we live for the Lord…” (see Romans 14:7ff)I am truly grateful for the influences on me from people who belong to the Lord. What a world it would be if we handed it on.
Fr Alan Roberts is currently in residence at St Mary and St Joseph’s Parish, Otaki / Levin.