Brother Richie Mercado, OSA professed his solemn (perpetual) vows in the Augustinian Order on August 27, 2015 at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago. In anticipation of this joyous moment, he offered the following reflection.
First and foremost, I would like to thank God for my Augustinian vocation, this gift of Augustinian vocation, this calling to the Augustinian way of life.
In this Year of Consecrated Life, Pope Francis invites us to look to the past with gratitude, live the present with passion, and embrace the future with hope. This three-fold invitation finds its source and meaning at the very heart of our community life, the Augustinian way of life. Now, in my journey as a consecrated religious, without a doubt, I am living the present with passion that's why I am here in front of you as a living witness to the dedication and commitment we have as a religious community to our own ministries and to the Church.
For sure, I truly embrace the future with hope and that's why all of you will be my witnesses later on as I profess my Solemn Vows to the Augustinian Order, my lifetime commitment and dedication to the Augustinian way of life. But who should I be thankful for as I look back in this journey of mine? Who should we be thankful for as a community? I've been often asked by vocation discerners as to why I am happy with my vocation as an Augustinian, and my response has always been the same. Because my parents are very happy with their vocation as my parents, I became very happy with my vocation as a religious. And so, if you wish to congratulate me for this God-given grace of Solemn Profession, I encourage all of you to congratulate my parents. If you wish to thank me for answering this call to religious life for the rest of my life, thank my parents instead.
Now, the same thing goes with my bigger family: the Augustinian friars. They are the reason why I am formed as a leader and a member, a mentor and a student, a man with a balanced mind and heart, ready to serve for the ministries of the Order and the good of the Church. And so, please congratulate them and thank them for all they have done to the Church and to our own respective ministries—parishes, schools, missions, and special ministries.
And most of all, to each and every one of you present here at this Jubilee Celebration of the province. You are here because, in one way or another, you are part of the Augustinian family around the world through your own respective connection to the Augustinian friars. Without you, we would not be here. Without you, we would not be good Augustinians. Without you, we would not be worthy ministers in the church. Without you, we would not be as authentic as we could be, being friends with Christ and friends in Christ. And so, I would like to thank all of you for being part of our journey as Augustinians. In this Year of Consecrated Life, it is not just about us, religious who profess our vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience; but, rather, it is about all of us (that includes you and me) journeying together in one mind and one heart on the way to God. And so, let us continue moving forward in our journey together as friends in Christ, building communities oflove and friendship, as a way of responding to this restlessness deep inside our hearts, the restlessness for God.
Brother Richie Mercado, OSA now continues his Augustinian formation by anticipating to be ordained a deacon on January 2, 2016. He is being ordained a "temporary" deacon in the Church to help him prepare for his anticipated ordination as a priest in June, 2016.