The Society of Mary has welcomed a new young seminarian this year.
Marist Seminary rector Fr Patrick Breeze, SM, said that they have been blessed as their order can still plan for ministry in New Zealand with younger people joining them.
“Most religious orders are struggling for vocations, but we are still getting a few. And we are very grateful for that,” Fr Breeze said.
Vincent Brzozowski, 23, who is from Papatoetoe, south Auckland, said that he met the Marists while he was a student at Victoria University of Wellington, doing a Bachelor of Music with Honours in 2017. He studied classical performance on piano and trumpet.
“Fr Peter McAfee, SM, invited me to join the altar servers at the parish. I experienced more of, I guess, the light-heartedness of the priests there, and learning about the community of Marist priests in the parish,” he said.
Mr Brzozowski said he hadn’t felt the call to a vocation during his school days. He knew priests but didn’t think he would become one.
“I never thought that I would be a priest, and I didn’t even really consider it until 2020,” he said.
“I was in prayer, and I was thinking about vocation, and the idea of priesthood came across my mind. And for the first time, I saw it in a positive light.”
He decided to give it more thought, and spoke with Fr McAfee.
“[Fr McAfee] suggested that I come to the ‘Come and See’ weekend in 2021 in Hopetoun St with the Marists, which set me up with the accompaniment process which led me to applying in 2022,” he said.
He said that, so far, he’s enjoying the experience.
“I’ve learned a lot and enjoyed the community life,” he said.
Mr Brzozowski said he worked as a teacher in 2021 in two different schools, as well as privately teaching music.
He said that his parents were supportive of his decision. He is one of five children who “are all musical”.
“I am grateful to inherit the faith from both sides of the family,” he said.