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St Raphael Kalinowski O.C.D.
priest (entered heaven this day in 1907)
It’s never too late to follow God’s call. I know that you are well advanced in your Ph.D. studies, and having invested so much of your life in mastering chemical engineering seems to “oblige a responsible course of living” as you so eloquently put it (you should have been an English major). But from the objective perspective of this uncle of yours, who has been a faithful correspondent with you for nigh on seven years, I can tell you for sure that your ever-intensifying inklings to the priesthood and religious life are not mere inventions. You are psychologically healthy, hard-working, with good prospects in life, so it’s not a case of escapism. It’s God calling you (as in your heart you know, I think). Do not fear his love. Look at today’s saint for example.
Like you, he was a brilliant academic and scientist. He achieved top marks at Vilna’s (that’s in Lithuania) Institute for Nobles. Even then he felt drawn to the religious life, but he decided to do advanced studies, which he completed with honors at the renowned School of Agriculture at Hory-Horky and the Academy of Military Engineering at St Petersburg. He graduated, was named Lieutenant, and received an appointment as lecturer in Mathematics at the same university. He was instrumental in the designing of the big railways that Russia was constructing in that epoch. And when the Polish insurrection broke out, he opted to stick with his native countrymen and fight for independence, so he resigned from the Russian army and accepted the post of Minister of War in the region of Vilna. He had some success, but as the insurrection was put down, he was arrested and condemned to death. He was so popular a war hero, however (he had never executed a prisoner or handed out a death sentence), the authorities feared they would be creating a political martyr, so they sent him to ten years hard labor in Siberia instead. Even there he proved to be a leader of his fellow prisoners and kept hope alive for many of them. Returning home, he accepted the post of tutoring the young Polish prince, Blessed Augusto Czartoryski, whom he helped discover a vocation to the Salesians.
Finally, after all that, he decided to answer the call God had given him, and he joined the Discalced Carmelites, serving as a revered parish priest (hours and hours spent in the confessional) near Krakow, and tirelessly taking on new apostolic initiatives (he founded a monastery in Wadowice; he took up efforts for reunification of Catholic and Orthodox Christians…) until his death in 1906. After that, the miracles just started pouring in.
Sorry, I was so long-winded, but I wanted to make sure you got the picture. Does St Raphael or does he not prove my point? It’s never too late to say “yes” to God – though I daresay it’s always better to do so right away, after all, he is God.
Your devoted uncle, Eddy