It is hard to believe it has already been over a year and a half since I began working with all of you. I hope you all are well. I would like to share a brief update with you:
I entered the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great last summer as a novice in Denver. My time there was, in short, incredible. Truly, there is nowhere else I would rather be and nothing else I would rather be doing. On August 7th, I professed my simple (first) vows for two years; thanks be to God. Recently, I have moved to our house of studies in St. Louis, MO and I am now preparing for my first semester of study. I am very excited and ready to continue my spiritual growth here with my brothers in St. Louis.
There have been many fruits of Labouré during my time with the Dominicans thus far. Primarily, the community we share has been a beautiful gift to carry with me throughout formation. Hearing from many of you and praying for all of you is consoling, and it serves as a tangible reminder for me that we are all preaching the same Gospel in complementing ways. In other words, you are a great motivation for me to continue persevering in my formation for priesthood and religious life! So, keep doing your important work with Labouré, and I’ll try my best with the Dominicans, and together we will spread the same Good News of Jesus Christ!
I was a little suspicious when I was first told “fundraising is a ministry,” but now, I completely understand. You all are so wise! Maintaining relationships with our benefactors has brought me much joy, especially when they seek the counsel of a brother or reach out for prayer intentions. Who would have thought that asking strangers for money would evolve into such beautiful and lasting relationships? Certainly not me!
Finally, I’ve come to realize that my formation in religious life did not begin last summer when I joined the Dominicans. Rather, I think it began when I called to inquire about Labouré. From that conversation until my entrance date (and even until now), I learned a great deal from all of you regarding relationships, discipline, prayer, and self knowledge. All of these, and more, help me today to be a better brother.
I am overly grateful for all of you. Without your help in getting me here, all those souls I met this past year might not have been reached. We truly are doing this ministry together.
Above is a photo of myself and four brothers after our profession. The youthful man in the center served as my Novice Master and is now a great role model and Father for me (Rev. David Wright, OP).
Your Dominican brothers are praying for you!
Br. Joseph Cullen Hilliker, OP
Province of Saint Albert the Great – Central Dominican Province