18 Jul May I Always Be Worthy of His Calling
I was born in Port Au Prince, Haiti, on July 19, 1973. I was involved actively at the parish of Notre Dame du Rosaire (Our Lady of the Rosary) where I was a member of the Legion of Mary, and one of the parish choir conductors. I worked as a volunteer at the local clinic, and later one I was on the payroll as a part time worker.
In May of 1993, I came to the United States to live and to stay with my mother who was already living here in Brooklyn, NY. The summer of that year, I went to The Adult Learning Center to take ESL classes, and then at the end of the year I went to Educational Opportunity Center in Brooklyn to continue my ESL and to take other courses like Computer and Typing courses. The summer of 1994 I took the GED exam, passed it, and I applied to colleges. I went to Brooklyn College in January of 1995 and I majored in Health and Science as a pre-med student. Beside my studies, I was very active at Saint Jerome, my home parish. I was able to establish a new group with a new identity aiming at educating young people and helping them to become very active in the parish.
In 1998, I transferred to Saint John’s University to study philosophy, and lived in Douglaston at the college seminary for two years. In May of 2000, I graduated with a bachelor degree in philosophy, and in the fall of that year I started my first year of theology at the Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington. On May 14 2001, I was commissioned as an officer in the US Navy, and in June I went to Newport, RI for a 3 months training as a Navy Chaplain. I was ordained to the Priesthood of Jesus Christ for the diocese of Brooklyn by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio on June 4th 2005.
I became aware of my call to the priesthood around 6 to 7 years of age. One day, my grandmother asked me what I would want to do when I grow up. And without hesitating, I said I would love to be a priest. She was so happy, she smiled at me and she said that she would pray for me so that she and I could achieve that goal, for we used to go every Sunday to 4 AM Mass.
In 1996, the parish members, chose me to go to Paris for the 1997 World Youth Day. I had one year ahead of me to get ready. I was so happy to hear that. Before I went to Paris I made this prayer: Lord, you alone know what I need. I want to be a faithful servant and walk before you for the rest of my life. I have been always at your service. Now God, I need your help. I have no idea why I was chosen to go to Paris. You alone know why. Yet, I think it is time for me to make a decision for my life. I don’t know whether I should go for Medicine, or for your Priesthood. I know that you are calling me for something, which I believe in. I am going to Paris, please God, give me a sign, and whatever you say I will obey. I give myself entirely and totally to you.” I went to Paris on a Sunday, and one Wednesday early in the morning, a group of us went to Sacré Coeur (Sacred Heart) in Montmartre for Catechesis.
When we arrived there, it was crowded and Archbishop Justin Rigali was the main celebrant, and the topic of the catechesis was: Seeking the face of God. I was paying close attention to the archbishop for there was something interesting about the topic. Suddenly, while listening to his comments, I felt something from the tip of my toes to my head. I felt completely at peace, and suddenly the image of Jesus preaching to the people came to my mind. Immediately, I said: “Well, thank you Lord. Now I know that you are calling me to be a priest. I will do my best to preach your gospel to your people so that by my words and actions they can come closer to you and serve you as I do. But please God, don’t leave me by myself, be always beside me. Give me your strength and your courage that I may be able to fulfill what you are asking me. When I go back to New York, I will do the necessary things. Please, put words in my mouth to be able to speak your words. Thank You Lord, thank you Lord and please help me.
I never regret that I made the decision to enter the seminary for I have been running away from my vocation for a long time. My vocation to the priesthood has led me to also serve the U.S. Navy as a chaplain candidate. I find joy in serving both my parish community and the community that makes up our armed forces.
Fr. Donelson Thevenin
Fr. Donelson Thevenin ’05 is actively serving a Lieutenant in the United States Navy.