My Vocation Story

I was born on April 8th, 1964 in Gary, Indiana. I was baptized on June 21st of that same year at the local Evangelical United Brethren Church. As a child I only remember attending the United Methodist Church. Initially my family attended church together, but as I grew older they would just drop me off for Sunday School and the church service.


As a child I had a very primitive view of God. I saw God as an old man on a throne in heaven who watched over everyone. And I believed that I had to be saved or I would go to Hell.


As a teenager I was confirmed in the United Methodist Church. But in High School I began drifting away from the church. I wasn’t getting anything out of the church services and I was dissatisfied that there was Communion only two Sundays of the year. I left home for the first time at the age of 19, and I fell away from the church. I hung around with my friends, partied, and had a good time.


At that point in my life I was living in Crown Point, Indiana. I worked in my Grandfather’s bakery. In the morning we made donuts and in the afternoon, I delivered them. My Grandfather was very hard to work for, so after a year I found a job in a restaurant as a cook. Then I went to Buffalo Grove, Illinois and worked for Burger King. In 1990 I moved to Chicago.


Internally, I felt God was nudging me to go back to church. I was very attracted to Catholicism as I felt it was more God-centered than the United Methodist Church, and it seemed to me that the preaching in the Catholic Church was really based on the Gospel message of Jesus.


I was really going through a conversion process at this time in my life. Some of the folks I worked with at National Louis University attended the Episcopal Church of the Atonement and told me about their parish. So, I invited myself to try Atonement. By the end of the first liturgy, I knew I was home. I felt I was being redeemed and I asked forgiveness for all the things I had done wrong.


I should point out that back when I was in the United Methodist Church, that they saw being gay as an abomination. I remember asking God for forgiveness for my being homosexual. It wasn’t until I came to Atonement that I stopped seeing being gay as dirty or as something I needed to ask God to forgive. I was now able to see that being gay is how I was born, and that Jesus loves me as a gay man.


My time at Atonement and in Chicago was interrupted when I moved to San Francisco. There I worshipped at Church of the Advent of Christ the King Episcopal Church. Connected to this parish was an Episcopal Community of Franciscans. I found myself drawn to their way of life, and I sought to join them. I became an Inquirer.

While I was with them I worked in soup kitchen. In doing that ministry I knew I was doing God’s work. Deep down inside me I knew I needed to help and take care of others. Working in the soup kitchen helped me to do that. However, I was only with the Franciscans for six months.


When I was invited to test my vocation as an Aspirant, I felt a tug in a different direction. I was a friend with Br. Thomas who was a member of the Companions of St. Luke. I visited their abbey in Iowa, and I felt an attraction to the Benedictine way of life. So I did not become a Franciscan. I wanted to join the Companions of St. Luke, and I spoke with their abbot. I returned to Chicago and to Atonement to discern my call as an Benedictine.


During my discernment, I realized I made a mistake in not accepting my invitation to test my vocation as an Franciscan and have regretted this mistake for the past 11 years. I never forgot about Franciscan Life. God continued to call me to the Franciscans.


At Atonement I was always aware of the Brotherhood of St. Gregory but there was a new religious community forming at Atonement, called the Community of the Mother of Jesus. Although I still felt the tug of a religious vocation to the Franciscans, I pursued a calling to join the Community of the Mother of Jesus. I had felt for a long time that the Blessed Mother was helping me to be more devout, and to know a real peacefulness in my heart. So I asked Br. Stephen if I could join. I went through the application process and was named a postulant. Br. Jonathan and I entered the novitiate together. We were the first “class’ of novices to become noviced together.


I find that my life as a CMJ was one of peace. It helped me to be more patient with myself, the policies, and people, at my place of work.


I wanted to grow in my vocation to be a good monk. I prayed the office, although sometimes it was a real struggle to find time to pray. Sometimes to make time, I would ride the bus past my bus stop and go all the way to the end of the line, just so I would have extra time to finish my prayers. I especially enjoyed the CMJ Daily Office. It helped me to stay alert as I prayed, since I have to make choices about which texts I wanted to pray.


I suspect that many gay men find themselves attracted to a religious vocation because they can experience a real sense of community, and not feel so isolated. I know it does that for me. It gives me a purpose in life, and structure. It gets me praying right away in the morning and keeps me praying during the day. I find I am better able to do God’s work because I am not hiding who I am: I can be openly gay, and be very involved in the life of the church and the religious life.


As a novice in the CMJ, I found out that people were curious about this “monk thing” that I did. People at work asked me questions about my vocation, and about when I would take vows. Having their affirmation also helped me to live my vocation, as well as to be more patient with others in my workplace. I thank God I was called to a vocation in that Community and that now I find myself called back to walk in the way of St. Francis. With the Franciscans, I feel a deep-seated need to live in community with a structured prayer life, and to live a life of service to those on the margins of our society.


I want to bring to the community a strong faith in God and a need to help others in need.


I realize I have much to learn about living the Franciscan lifestyle. I entered into this community with an open mind and willingness to be formed in the way of St. Francis.


I am prepared to give my life over God as his servant.


Robert Gee will be noviced on Saturday, September 14, 2019 and will take the name Brother Gregory, SSF.

63 views
OUR PRAYER

+ May our holy father Francis pray to the Lord that we may have the grace to observe the Gospel with greater devotion.  Amen.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
GIVE NOW

Or mail donation, payable to:

Society of St. Francis

573 Dolores St.

San Francisco, CA  94110

STAY IN TOUCH

Subscribe here for e-mail and/or postal updates, inspiration, and opportunities.

Click here for more contact information.

© 2019 Society of St. Francis American Province, Inc.  Proudly created with Wix.com