As the Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week (November 5-11, 2017), we wanted to talk about fidelity. As Christians, we are all called to the universal vocation of holiness, though we live out this common vocation in different ways. Yet whatever our vocation, discernment is only the first, though often very exciting, step. Living out that vocation for the rest of our lives requires courage, commitment and perseverance.
As Pope Francis noted at the beginning of this year when speaking to the Plenary Session of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, faithfully living out one’s vocation to consecrated life can be difficult in our “provisional” culture, which “induces the need to always have ‘side doors’ open to other possibilities.” Yet Consecrated Life is “a school of faithfulness,” and as such, it must “show the beauty of following Christ and radiate hope and joy.”
Given these challenges, it is all the more important to celebrate those who have persevered in this “school of faithfulness” and who continue to witness with their lives the “beauty of following Christ.” To that end, we present this two-part series, highlighting the courage and commitment of Br. Warren Perrotto, MSC and Fr. David Foxen, MSC, two of our members who celebrated 50th anniversaries this year. Since the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart is blessed to count a good number religious brothers among our members, and mindful of the damaging effects of clericalism, which Pope Francis recently reminded us can even still be a temptation, we will begin this series by focusing on the vocation of Br. Warren Perrotto, MSC.
Interview with Br. Warren Perrotto, MSC
Responses have been edited for length and clarity.
1. What have been some of the blessings that have come with living out your vocation? What has been the best part of living and working as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart (MSC) Brother?
God has given me ability to relate well with young people. With His grace, I became a good teacher. Through this wonderful ministry, I can give a positive influence to the students both through teaching and when they encounter difficulties and questions about life. I also am able to bring about and share joyful experiences with them.
I am very grateful for those many notes given to me and written in my yearbooks, as well as some gifts. I have warm memories. One in particular is when I asked at the end of each school for the students to never lose the little child within their hearts; otherwise they will become very bitter and angry towards youth, and have a dislike for their presence among them. I told them that I am still fascinated with certain games of children. The following Monday my students brought in for me several of those games. I also enjoyed being part of the faculty’s Student Intervention Team, Peer Counseling Moderator, Disciplinarian, etc. They were joyful moments to also play in student-faculty games in the gym and going to the school’s sport events.
I also did well in Colombia and Fiji teaching seminarians and novices. In Fiji, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart run a trade school for disadvantaged persons. I also enjoy my Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) ministry and writing articles as well as working with our lay members.
As an MSC Brother, I am called to be the Heart of Jesus for the world. I am called to teach and live by example the Gospel message. It is not exclusively the ministry of the ordained, but it is a service for all the baptized.
2. What are some of the challenges that you have faced in living out your vocation? Were there any hardships about life as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart Brother that you didn’t foresee?
The greatest challenge I see today is that many priests and laity still see the priesthood as a more important and higher vocation than the brotherhood. This, of course, was not in the mind of our Founder, Fr. Jules Chevalier. The late Bishop Cuskelly, MSC mentioned to me that our Founder was ahead of his times for our Brothers. Yet Brothers had to wait until 1969 to experience change. It is interesting if you look at our 1940-50 magazine of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, the priest vocation got a full page, MSC Sisters 1/2, and the Brothers only 1/4–case closed!!
Surely we need priests, but we cannot discount the role of the laity and their sincere leadership.Editors’ Note: In December 2015, as part of the Year of Consecrated Life, The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life released a document on the Religious Brotherhood, “The Identity and Mission of the Brother in the Church.” The document reminds us that in the beginning, Consecrated life was mostly lay. Consecrated life has the fundamental objective of cultivating “the collective Christian treasure, which is contained and given to all the faithful in the sacraments of initiation” and those who take religious vows seek to accomplish this goal in a special way, by imitating “Christ in his way of living: chaste, poor and obedient.”
3. You’ve traveled to several places in the last fifty years, including this year, when you spent your 50th anniversary of vows with the MSC Community in Wainadoi, Fiji. What are some of the other places to which your vocation has taken you?
I was at the 1999 General Chapter in Issoudun, France, where I was asked to give a talk on the formation of the Brotherhood and all MSC. The Superior General at that time gave me full freedom to write what I had wanted to propose. It was a great experience of our unity as MSC. I also got permission to see Rome before going to the Chapter.
I have also been able to go to Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador to continue my studies in Spanish. God willing, I will be returning to Fiji for six more months. I was asked to return to continue my service and I look forward to returning.
Editors’ note: Br. Warren was able to return to Fiji in October 2017!
If you think the Lord might be calling you to the consecrated life as a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, please contact our Vocation Director, Fr. Joseph Kanimea, M.S.C. at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, we ask for your prayers both for those discerning whether God is calling them to be a Missionary of the Sacred Heart, and for each brother and priest of our Congregation, that they may feel supported in their vocation to the Consecrated Life.