My name is Bryan Sabourin. I am the oldest of three boys. Growing up, I always attended Mass with my family, but it was something we did simply as tradition. As a family, we began to attend St. Mary’s parish, pastored by the Companions of the Cross, my parents having previously had a re-awakening of their faith. A series of conferences and events I participated in led up to a Life in the Spirit seminar wherein my heart was changed and I desired only what God wanted in my life, a response to His love that I had experienced. I gave over to Him the idea that I might be called to the priesthood, as I had previously told Him that I would never be a priest.
When I opened my heart in that way, a peace and joy began to well up inside of me along with a sense that God was indeed calling me to the priesthood. Having a desire for community life, utilizing the gifts of the Holy Spirit in ministry, and working in the New Evangelization, I began to look at the Companions of the Cross, and joined in September of 2005. Please pray for me as I enter my last few years before ordination to the priesthood.
I am currently serving as the Associate Pastor at St. Mary's Parish in Ottawa, Ontario.
Confirming a Call
Testimony published in the Spring 2012 CC Newsletter
It’s hard to believe that I’ve been a seminarian for six and a half years! In some respects it does feel like it’s been that long. In other ways, it seems like the time has just flown by. It’s been an interesting journey, complete with hills and valleys, sorrows and joys. Someone asked me recently if I could describe my seminary journey using a single word. My response? Blessed. Here’s why: I’ve learned a lot of different things over the years, both in head knowledge and heart knowledge. The most important thing I’ve learned is that God is faithful. He knows the desires of our hearts, and he doesn’t place a call there and then just leave us to our own devices. If we are earnestly seeking him out every day, he’s going to give us the grace and strength, and even the direction to grow in that call and live it out. It’s been a blessing to both learn and experience that. Looking at struggles for just a moment, mine has been in trying to see my life beyond the classroom. After spending a year at Assumption Farm, I completed a three year degree in philosophy, followed by two years of theology. I found myself asking, why am I doing this again? I needed to refocus.
As Companions of the Cross we believe that our ministry flows from our life together. Having lived in a variety of households in different foundations, I’ve been able to learn from and be mentored by many brothers in how to “share life, not just a roof,” as Fr. Bob would often say. I kept asking myself though, where and what does this ministry flowing from our common life look like in my own case?
I did have various opportunities for ministry, but they often lacked consistency, which is to be expected in my role as a student. Additionally, much of what I did was not where I felt drawn. In fact, quite the opposite; I would often feel drained after returning from some of these engagements. Why was that? A new look at my charisms and remembering what I had always felt drawn to: preaching, teaching, and spiritual direction, fostered new hope and with it, new life. There was something in me that had always felt called to priestly ministry exercised within the confines of a parish. Something within me wanted to spend time with people, really get to know them, and see them grow in their faith. But this was something of which I had little or no experience.
This past summer I spent two months at St. Maurice parish in Ottawa. I was able to gain insight from Deacon Lawrence Hyginus who was just finishing up his pastoral year. I was able to see the love that the people had for Fr. Simon and Fr. Galen, and catch a glimpse of how they had given of themselves so deeply over the last number of years, just before they would leave to take up new assignments. It was a unique opportunity to see a parish in transition. I spent some time with Fr. Jim MacGillivray and Fr. Tim in their first month as the new pastors, seeing what it’s like to walk into a brand new situation and begin to learn how the parish operates.
This year I was assigned to the Holy Trinity Pastoral Unit in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia (HTPU). It consists of three churches that make up one parish family. Under the direction of Fr. Rob Arsenault and Fr. Jamie Utronkie, I’ve been able to get a real taste for parish life here, with a nice Maritime flavour. It’s been a real joy getting to know people, what makes people tick, and even sometimes what ticks them off! Everyone has a story, that’s definitely worth hearing. Journeying with the RCIA candidates through the Alpha program and Catholicism 201 has been a great experience. We have a group of teens that meet every week to do lectio divina, praise and worship, and take in some of the parish Adoration time. Deacon Lawrence, in typical humour, calls this my time of youth ministering to youth. We have a monthly Adoration night with praise and worship, witness talks, and some fellowship afterwards. The turnout has been excellent, people are encountering the Lord, some for the first time, and it’s encouraging a greater sense of community in the parish.
For me, it’s as if I’ve found a home. I know that my time in Lower Sackville has an end date on it, and I have to return to school for two more years. I know that breaking away won’t be easy, but that’s okay. I will treasure the many great moments from my time here. The greater sense of home also comes with my experience of parish life in general. I was already feeling it at St. Maurice, and now my time at the HTPU has confirmed it. Parish life just fits for me. Yes, there are difficult days in parish ministry, but there are a great many joys as well. Personally, an excitement has returned that has been dormant for too long, complemented by a real peace. With the help of God’s grace, and the support of my brothers, this is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing: serving God’s people... introducing them to Jesus, watching and helping them grow in their faith in the ordinary, and sometimes extraordinary, rhythm of parish life.
What kind of ministry are you doing now?
I currently serve as the associate pastor at St. Mary's Church in Ottawa, Ontario.