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Turn to Jesus (Article)

After a long battle
Fr Pierre Caouette, L.C. (Canada)

P. Pierre Caouette, L.C.
P. Pierre Caouette, L.C.


I come from a Catholic family that was non-practicing except for my father, who never stopped going to Sunday Mass. Like many young Quebecers, I started playing hockey when I was very young and dreamed of playing in the National League one day. I have two younger sisters who also love sports and parties.

I felt the call for the first time when I was twelve. Two diocesan seminarians came to my religion class to tell the story of how they felt the call to the priesthood and left everything to follow it. Although my friends appreciated their witness, I told myself, “I wish they’d finish this talk fast and leave me alone.” The reason for this slightly rebellious attitude was that I felt strongly that I should follow their example one day and I didn’t want to at all. I saw all my dreams of money and hockey going up in smoke.

Two years later, I had to go through a similar experience. This time, they were not seminarians, but two religious sisters. While they spoke to us about how they had felt the call, responded to it, and were happy to have done so, once again I felt strongly that God was asking me to become not a sister, of course, but a priest! I kept looking at my watch, hoping for the hands to move more quickly. What I wanted to do with my life was make a lot of money, have fun, and after all that, get married.

A few months later, when I was alone in my room, I begged God, “Lord, please tell me that I should not become a priest.” After having asked for this favor, I opened the New Testament I had received at school and happened upon a verse that said that one day I would leave everything to follow him. I instantly put the Bible on my desk and threw myself on my bed in despair. It seemed that I could never rid myself on this call.  And yet, from that moment on, God gave me a break and I did not think about it again for almost two years.

The Conversion

As a non-practicing Catholic, I went to Mass around twice a year, unless there was a baptism or a funeral. At least, that was how it was until the summer of 1996.

One evening, toward the end of June 1996, my father
P. Pierre Caouette, L.C.
came home while I was watching a movie with my friends. Once they had left, I asked him where he had gone, and he told me about a conference he had attended. In short, he had gone to listen to a grandmother who has a mission like that of St Brother André, the founder of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. God had granted many favors, including miracles, through this woman and her mission. This person seemed truly interesting to me, since my “philosophy” at that time was this: “I will not believe in God, or at least, I will not give him an important place in my life unless I see miracles.” The next day, I went to this conference and my conversion began there. During the summer of 1996, I went from two Masses a year to Mass every Sunday. God also led my parents and sisters through a similar spiritual growth, each one in her own time and way.

And the Winner is…

After my conversion, that is, when I began living my faith more intensely, the idea of the priesthood came back. Even though I was now closer to God, I still did not want to become a priest. My dreams in life were certainly more Christian, but becoming a priest was still too much for me.

In April 1997, after seven or eight months of resisting this new call from God to become a priest, I was praying the Rosary alone in my room, kneeling down in front of an image of the Blessed Virgin. While praying fervently, I thought to myself: “If God is all love, all powerful, and if he wants me to become a priest, it is probably because it is the best thing for me. In this case, I accept.” When I opened my eyes, I saw tears fall from Mary’s eyes. I immediately brought the image to my father, who was in his room, to show him. He saw the tears, touched them, and agreed with me that a special favor had been given to me. It was the first time that I accepted God’s invitation to become a priest, and he showed me his support through Mary.

During several summers, I set up a grass mowing business. I thought it was the student job par excellence, since I could make my own schedule, meet a lot of people, and earn some good money. During the summer of 1997, one of my clients wanted me to meet his youngest daughter, who was my age. I found her very beautiful and attractive, but at the same time, my heart burned even more intensely to be a priest. With this great desire to do God’s will, even if it was difficult, I refused the offer.

In December of that same year, I went to a youth activity as I now did regularly. During adoration, a strange thought came to me: I really wanted to be a priest, but I thought that God had changed his mind and that he didn’t want it anymore. Having accepted the call after having resisted it for so many years, could it be possible that God no longer wanted it? In the midst of this interior confusion, I told God: “If you still want me to be a priest, give me a sign.” A few minutes later, the sister leading the activity told us, “Each one of us, in turn, pull from the little basket a small paper on which an intention is written; then you have to pray for during Christmastime.” Each of us went to the foot of the Blessed Sacrament exposed, took a paper from the little basket, unfolded it, and read the intention out loud. When I drew mine, after having unfolded it, I read out loud: “Priests!” God still wanted me to become a priest!

Lightning strike!

I met the Legionaries of Christ for the first time on June 22, 1998. One of my very good friends, who had helped me on my path to conversion, had given me great esteem for them and introduced me to them. While they spoke to me about the congregation, about their different pastoral works, including youth and family ministry, it was clear to me that I need look no further. I knew now that God wanted me to become a Legionary of Christ priest, and now.

When I got up after a long night—I could not sleep, looking for a way to go to the vocational discernment program in spite of my summer job—I told my parents that I had to spend the summer at the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ to see if this vocation was for me. This was big news to them, since I had never said anything about all that to them. In spite of everything, having received the gift of the faith and being generous with God, they supported me.

Three days later, I called one of my aunts, a very fervent Catholic, to ask for prayers. After having told her that I wanted to spend the summer at the discernment program, she immediately responded, “Ah, now I understand.” “You understand what?” I asked.

She answered, “Since the night of the 22nd, at different times during the day and night, I had the intuition that you needed prayers; so I go to Mass and pray for you; I pray my Rosary and offer it for you; I wake up during the night and offer it for you.” I certainly needed these prayers to have the strength to leave everything and follow Christ.

On July 1, a week after this meeting, my family brought me to the seminary of the Legionaries of Christ to discern if God still wanted me to become a priest. The answer is “yes.”

Father Pierre Caouette was born on October 4, 1979 in Chicoutimi, in the province of Québec, in Canada. After high school, he studied pure and applied sciences at the Cégeb Champlain St-Lawrence in Quebec. In September 1998, he entered the novitiate in Cornwall, Ontario, in Canada. After his first year of philosophy in Thornwood, New York, he became a member of the team of formators in the Cornwall novitiate for three years. He studied his second year of philosophy in New York and then studied theology at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. He is currently working on a master’s degree in theology at the Regina Apostolorum.

The vocation stories of the Legionaries of Christ who were ordained in 2010 have been published in the book "From the Heart of Christ."



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