How I Became a Missionary
Updated: Jul 31, 2022
This newsletter features two stories from the missionaries and how they have experienced God's call in their lives as well as some ways you can pray for us and those who are growing closer to Christ through our ministry. We hope these newsletters can encourage you and our readers to grow in faith and in zeal for the work of the salvation of souls that is so needed in our church.
In this newsletter
Griffin Rain's Story & starting of the Missionaries of the Real Presence
Robert Pauly's Story
Reflection on his vocation & the starting of the Missionaries of the Real Presence from Griffin Rain
After coming back to my faith in high school and experiencing God’s love for me in the sacrament of reconciliation, I wanted to share the good news with others. Until my senior year at Marquette University I never seriously considered any vocation but marriage. I wanted to spread the gospel, but I was not ready to live the gospel fully as those in religious life do yet. At the beginning of my senior year, I first started going to St. Michael's Parish for daily Mass and one day I talked with the pastor, Fr. Rafael Rodriguez after Mass for a while about the things I was involved in at Marquette and he asked me if I could help him start a young adult group there. This was great because I was praying about how I could serve the church after I graduated since I was so involved in many different things at Marquette that I would no longer be able to be a part of. I started helping out with the young adult group as well as other things around the parish and was really enjoying it. One day Father Rafael asked if I wanted to come with him to an anointing of the sick and I came along. This moment helped me realize that God could be calling me the priesthood and would help me to become open about a possible calling. The sacraments are at such pivotal moments in people's life of faith and at points that they are most open to Christ. A good priest can really make all the difference in this moment and point someone towards heaven. All the different ministries that I was involved in were about helping people grow in their faith and that is exactly what the priest does. My view of the priest evolved from being someone who celebrates the sacraments to someone who is Christ to someone when they most need Christ. People naturally look to the priest in these moments of transition. I was discerning my call as a missionary, but realized that the priest is someone who can give more fully to the mission of the church where most others could not. I had a few objections to becoming a priest, but this experience made me realize that I would need to pray more about this calling. Soon after opening up about this possible calling, it became clear to me that God wanted me to further discern this call. I was attracted to religious life, but I was not ready to give up everything that I owned and take a vow of poverty. At this time, I discerned that going to the diocesan seminary was where God was leading me at that time. While at the seminary, I became much more detached from material things, which was keeping me from religious life at the beginning of seminary. For our Christmas break at the seminary, I did my first week-long visit with a religious order at Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery in Chicago. The visit helped me to see how community prayer at the center of one's life helps to orientate the whole day around prayer with work periods in between. Their work was not apostolic work, like I have felt called to, but it helped me to see how religious life is a life that is oriented entirely around the gospel.
Other religious communities often have some communal prayer mixed with some apostolic work. I noticed that the communities that were traditionally missionary seemed to have very little communal prayer set aside each day and often their missionary work was social work instead of the work of salvation of souls that I read about from their early years. Many communities seemed as if they had grown lukewarm. I believe that many more men are and have been called to religious life, but have not found a community that is matching the call they have received since so many communities are no longer true to their original charism. In the past, most religious communities prayed most or all of their prayers together including missionary orders. I found it discouraging how not only were the missionary orders not working primarily for the salvation of souls, but communal prayer was often neglected in favor of being able to do more apostolate work. When our prayer suffers, so does our work. We give to others the fruits of our contemplation and what has been given to us from God. If we don’t allow God to fill us, our work will not bear much or any fruit in the kingdom of God.
In my time in the city, I have seen most of the poor inner city Catholic Churches struggling and noticed that as a church we have these huge beautiful churches in the poor areas of the city, but most attendees do not live in the area and the people who live around the church are largely unchurched or fallen away from practice of any faith. Milwaukee is not alone in this as most big US cities have similar problems with Catholic Churches closing down in the poorer African American neighborhoods. There are many reasons that have caused this, but one of the major reasons is that we Catholics stopped evangelizing. Instead of working for the salvation of souls, we transitioned to focus only on the material needs for our outreach. When we do not have salvation of souls in mind, we don’t invite people into the church community or ask much about their spiritual wellbeing, they remain on the outside and are always receiving, but rarely called to share their talents with the church that needs them. We are many parts of the body of Christ, but how many members are missing because we didn’t invite them into the church.
Also during my senior year at Marquette while attending Cor Jesu, I met Joe Livaudais, a Catholic street preacher who was traveling around the country encouraging Catholics to join him for some street ministry. I joined for a day and realized while doing this that people were very open to conversations about faith and learning more about the Catholic faith. I spent the whole summer before entering the seminary doing this street ministry with Joe here in Milwaukee.
After leaving the seminary, I still feel that God could be calling me to the priesthood, but it would be as a religious priest and not a diocesan priest. Whether a priest or a brother, I am fairly certain God is calling me to religious life. The Missionaries of the Real Presence started when I felt God calling me to give up everything to follow him in religious life, but at the same time not finding a community that was doing what God has been calling me to. I know that God loves each person and wants them to be saved through his Church. I saw that most Catholics wanted nothing to do with evangelizing in the “ghetto” and that God was calling me to help seek out his lost sheep here. In my time as a missionary, I have found there are many people who will never call a priest because they aren’t Catholic. I have been able to bring the good news of Jesus to many people who were far away from the church and often have never been invited or discovered the Catholic faith. There have been many fruits both in my life and in those we have reached through this ministry with two men coming into the Catholic Church in the first year, a few others who joined RCIA but have yet to come into the church and many Catholics returned to the faith. We have seen many good signs of new life in the parishes we have served as Catholics come back, and other neighbors join the church and start to evangelize those close to them. As they see the working of God in their lives and in the church, they can bear witness to those around them.
It has been a slow process as we have been starting this group and it first started with just me praying the liturgy of the hours in the church each day, sometimes joined by the pastor of the parish and others from the neighborhood and I have been inviting other men to come and join for mission work. Now there are three of us missionaries and the structure of our way of life has been solidifying. We are currently under supervision from the archdiocese as we discern this charism for a possible new community of religious. We ask for your prayers as we discern this calling to be contemplative missionaries to our neighbors here in the city. If you have felt God tugging at your heart, we invite you to come and see what our mission is all about whether as a volunteer or becoming a missionary.
Reflection on his vocation from Robert Pauly
I felt called to be a missionary after visiting the Missionaries of the Real Presence in Milwaukee multiple times about a year ago. The Missionaries met me several times at Cor Jesu, a young adult Catholic event in Milwaukee as I continued to listen to God’s calling into his service. Each time I went to St. Rose of Lima Church, where the Missionaries began their ministry, to walk the streets, the encounters with the neighbors and bring Jesus’ presence to the people who had not heard of Him or felt His Love. My zeal from the Lord tugged at my heart to join the new missionary group in May this year.
From 2017 to 2021, I helped the Religious Education program in my hometown to understand the needs of the parish’s program and how it adapts to a growing faith community. This experience taught me how to bring people to the faith through their children, how to teach others to pray, and how God speaks to us in the Liturgy. The questions the students gave me and they showed me to listen more to God. After teaching a class with seventh and eighth graders in 2021, I felt God asking me to leave the home parish and discern the call with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee with other people in my age group.
The year before, 2020, my heart yearned to follow Christ more closely, but I had a girlfriend who understood that I had these thoughts for many years. It was a blessing to break up because the relationship held me back from my true calling. A few months later, I greeted people during Advent and Christmastime in Plymouth where I have lived since 2019. The Lord began stirring my heart to follow His Path to become a priest or religious brother now that I could focus my prayer in another direction. After living alone for a couple years, I recognized that working late shifts, then attending mass in the morning did not make time to rest and pray as much as I had wanted to bring fulfillment in my life, which felt like choosing between God and money, when giving everything to God was the best option.
A month later, the stories of Jesus calling his disciples, the priests’ homilies brought Jesus to the front of my mind because the prayer life became more fruitful and felt the time to the true vocation as a man married to the Church. I contacted my parish priest who connected me with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Vocation Office to explore these options to follow through with this new growth in my spiritual and prayer life. While visiting the John Paul II Discernment Center with other young men, the Lord drew me closer to understand a former seminarian’s calling to street ministry by walking around the poor inner city neighborhoods in Milwaukee that needed God’s Love and was not known.
In November, while meeting the pastor at St. Rose of Lima to become a missionary, my car got stolen from the street. I understood this was a possibility because it was parked on the street and it was a popular brand for hotwiring. Instead of turning away from the missionary calling, as the enemy intended, I felt further called into the vocation. After taking the incident to prayer during adoration, the Lord showed me a memory from another incident that taught me how to forgive the person who committed the crime. It also taught me poverty by donating many possessions to St. Vincent de Paul, and to rely on God for future needs.
Now that I am at the Missionaries of the Real Presence, there are more times to pray, listen to God, do his work of salvation of souls, have community, and grow in virtue and faith. Please pray for me, as I pray for you.
God is Good! All the Time!
We would encourage our readers to pray for those who we have been working with in our outreach ministry. There is much fruit happening with the missionaries and we need your prayers!
Please keep those who have expressed interest in learning more about Catholicism in prayer
Matthew, David, Jerry, Antoine, Valerie, Nicholas, Elijah, Kelly
Please keep those who have started individual catechism classes and are preparing to become Catholic in prayer
Please keep those who are fallen away Catholics that we have met and those who have expressed desire to come back to confession and church in prayer
Terri, Catherine, Mary, Jodee, Jerry, Diana, Georgia, Thorne, Mike, Johanne, Lisa, Joyce, Dawn, Wayne, Tracey, Fae, Lettie
Those who are in special need of prayer
Please pray for any men who are discerning becoming a missionary
Click Here to pray for those who we met in our first year while at St Rose of Lima Parish
About the Missionaries of the Real Presence
The Missionaries of the Real Presence are a group of lay men who live in common at the Visitation House next to St. Catherine Catholic Parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We are dedicated to prayer through daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours in the church open to the public, Evangelization to the neighborhoods surrounding our parish and running a hospitality center next to our parish.
Support the Mission, Join the Mission
If you appreciate the work we are doing, consider supporting our mission financially Here.
Volunteer with us with our street ministry and with the Visitation House Here
If reading about some of our vocation stories inspires you, come and see what life as a missionary is like and visit us for a day or longer for prayer and ministry as you discern Here.
If you liked this newsletter from the Missionaries of the Real Presence, consider subscribing and sharing with your friends.