On the Street
Junior high students at Our Lady of Mercy School, Daly City recently went to the boards on Scripture. From left: Beth Gorman, assistant principal; Father Doming Orimaco, pastor; Carlo Bautista; Father Sebastine Bula; Jeffrey Burgos, principal; Sister R
‘Prayer is thread holding each day together,’ Brother Isaiah says
March 21st, 2017
By Tom Burke
Brother Isaiah Marie Hofmann, a graduate of Marin Catholic High School and Boston College, told me his invitation to religious life “was there all along, hidden in my every joy, hope, desire and struggle growing up.” He joined the Community of the Franciscans of the Renewal in 2008 and spoke with Catholic San Francisco via email from their friary in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It was on the New England college campus that Brother Isaiah began to discern his calling.
“I realized that this vocation was an invitation to be all his – to belong to God, to be led by him, and to let him become the source of all joy, peace, intimacy, and contentment. To my own surprise, it felt like this was what my heart had always longed for.”
Brother Isaiah said he wanted three things: “a life of deep prayer, brothers to help me in the struggle, and a life near and with the poor” and he found them and “Christ waiting for me” in the Franciscans of the Renewal.
“It is way better” than anything he anticipated, Brother Isaiah said. “I’m starting to realize that the problem isn’t that my desires are too big for God but that they’re too small. He has consistently blown my every hope and expectation out of the water and revealed himself to be the giver of ever-greater gifts, things much better than I could ever have dreamed of.”
As to his daily routine? “Prayer is the thread that holds each day together,” Brother Isaiah said. “We pray as a community five times a day with an hour of personal meditation in the morning and an hour of eucharistic adoration in the evening as a friary. We have Mass together each day. Between the formal times of prayer, we have our meals together as well as share the chores and work that keep a house together.”
The congregation’s regular work is service to the neighborhood poor. Weekends are often spent giving retreats to youth or other groups. Each year there is time set aside to visit their families.
The family reaction to Brother Isaiah’s vocation was “awesome,” he said. “It wasn’t easy and it requires a deep act of surrender and sacrificial love for any parent. Surrender doesn’t come overnight – it’s a struggle and it’s supposed to be that—but they have responded so beautifully and generously to God’s movement, and I see a real holiness in them because of this.” Vocations in the family include a great aunt who is a religious.
“Ultimately, this was a good choice for me only because it was God’s desire as well,” Brother Isaiah said. “In his designs we find our delight: Not without struggle or difficulty but with the help of grace, which leads us to places and a fullness of life much broader and deeper than we could ever hope for. If you had asked me growing up in the Bay Area in middle school where I saw myself in 20 years, this is not what I would have told you, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. For anyone out there who may be in the same boat, allow yourself to be led. I think we tend to underestimate just how great his designs could be for our ‘little’ lives.”
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From March 23, 2017 issue of Catholic San Francisco.