Br. Efrain / Holy Cross Monastery in Virginia

When I was asked to write this reflection on my vocational journey I hesitated because I thought my story would be boring. But encounters with the Lord make the journey interesting to relate. Sometimes it takes us a long time to realize a friend God really is and how much there is to tell about HIM!

I have been close to the Lord since I was quite young. My Mom taught me and my sister about the Lord and His Mother and THEY became part of my life. This vocational seed was planted and lay quietly for a long time.

My life took many twists and turns in the seventies, I didn't always think of a religious life, in fact I didn't think much of the institutional church, but God was always in the far background. My dream was to live my life quietly and at peace with money in the bank and a beautiful family in a house in the suburbs. That was my idea of successful living. There is an old adage in my Latino culture that says,"If you want to make God laugh, just tell him what you want." Well, I think Our Lord had himself a good laugh!

By the early eighties I was finally settled in a position that I thought would develop into a lucrative and long-lasting career, but it turned out to be quite the opposite. A friend owned a funeral home and I went to work for his company as a part-time employee. I enjoyed the ins and outs of the funeral business so much that I decided to go to school and apply for a Funeral Director's license. I was in the funeral industry for a number of years when things started changing in my life. There came the feeling that things were not quite right and that something was missing, and I couldn't for the life of me discern what that was. A year later I felt the situation was getting worse, my life was empty, I had recently gone through an abrupt breakup with someone and I felt very much alone.

One afternoon I left work early and went walking to midtown Manhattan and found myself on thirty-second street and seventh avenue by Madison Square Garden. Across the street is St. John's Church, staffed by the Capuchin Franciscan Friars. I was feeling upset, lonely and very frustrated with life. So I decided to go in to church to talk to God. It had been a long time since I went to a church specifically to pray. As a Funeral Director I was in and out of churches all the time. Why would I want to go to another church? That was my attitude in those days! So I went and afterwards I went into the church office and asked if I could speak to a priest. Down came a short, energetic, fast talking friar who literally softened my hardened heart. I spoke to the friar and he recommended I start spiritual direction with him immediately. I listened; I was faithful to whatever he told me to do, we met every week, then bi-monthly, then monthly. This went on for a year and I can honestly say life was injected into me. My spiritual eyes were opened and I soon discovered how good God really is. I entertained thoughts of becoming a religious but I wanted to wait because I needed to sort things out in my head with this new found way of life. And I needed to find out more about religious orders. I knew the Trappists monks because of retreats I had made in the early seventies, but entering a cloistered community didn't seem prudent. My thoughts eventually turned to the Capuchins and I pursued a vocation with them. I entered the Province of New Jersey, went through the formation program and seven years later I was professed perpetually on September 8, 1990. My life as a friar took me to different types of ministries, from working with the homeless, to parish work, being infirmarian of the province's infirmary to being a missionary in Mexico and helping implant the order in Northern Mexico. My life was full of excitement and lots of work. But I always felt God wanted something else from me and this produced a sense of incompleteness.

As time went on I realized my vocation was to the contemplative life and I needed to do something about it. In 2004 I made a retreat at Holy Cross Abbey in Virginia, when I completed my retreat I spoke to the abbot of my attraction to monastic life. I asked how he felt about my applying to the monastery for entrance, he was very much in favor of this, but warned me that my superiors would give me a hard time. When I met with my provincial he definitely was not happy with my decision and simply said he preferred I wait a year. I obeyed because if this was of God (and I truly believed it was) a year would fly by and life would continue. A year later I was given the permission to enter Holy Cross Abbey in August 2005 for the three-month observership, and returned to stay in December 2005, becoming a postulant. I completed the monastic formation program and on a beautiful autumn day the 7th of October, 2010, Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary I professed my solemn vows thus becoming Br. Efrain Sosa, OCSO.

To those who read this reflection on my journey I want you to know that I am a very happy person. The monastic life has given me a new life full of happiness and a deep sense of peace. I waited a long time to become a monk but the wait was worth it! God Bless You!

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