Blind priest shares testimony of healing in parents' marriage

October 26, 2015
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

After Father Tim Devine realized his blindness might not be an obstacle to the priesthood, he faced three major challenges before entering seminary with the Companions of the Cross.

One challenge concerned the sudden departure of his father during a midlife crisis, after a celebrated marriage. Devine wondered whether he should enter seminary and leave his mother alone to manage the grief of abandonment.

Speaking at the close of the Sanctifying Families conference recently in Ottawa, Devine spoke of growing up Catholic in Kitchener and how becoming a priest was always in his top three future occupations. Those other professions included being a fireman or a baker, since the Baker Smurf was his favorite character.

"Obviously, there are things I can't do," he said. "It wouldn't be smart for me to aspire to be a brain surgeon or a taxi driver."

For a while, he had the same idea of the priesthood, but during university the "call took a deeper shape," as he realized his psychology major was not as exciting to him as talking with people "about their faith journey."

PURSUE HOLINESS

As Devine pursued university studies, he realized maybe with his limitations he could study for the priesthood. "Wouldn't being a priest be a great way to deepen the pursuit of holiness?"

"I needed to go for broke in my spiritual life and I knew if I never went [to seminary] I would always wonder," he said. He came across a pamphlet about the Companions of the Cross, contacted the Ottawa-based order and was invited to enter into seminary for a period of discernment that fall. He is marking his 13th year as a priest.

But that July, the challenges began. First, he met "this really amazing girl named Melodie," who made him wonder, "Maybe I am called to marriage?"

Then, the band he played piano in with his brother was offered a record deal and a chance to tour Canada. If he went to seminary, not only would he greatly disappoint his brother, but also he would miss a wonderful and rare opportunity.

And, his father left, forcing his mother to sell their house. "If I left, I would be leaving Mom high and dry at this emotional time. Am I even ready to go to seminary?"

But Devine remember the example of Peter, who left his nets, left everything behind to follow Jesus. So he prayed a novena to St. Peter. Afterwards, he was able to share with Melodie and his brother his call to enter seminary. She understood and gave him her blessing, he said, and his brother, while disappointed, said he "saw it coming."

His mother told him it was better he went to seminary and "really prayed" for his parents, he said.

Melodie, a Mennonite, eventually married a Catholic and now has several children. Devine got to play in a worship band before Saint Pope John Paul II during World Youth Day Toronto in 2002 and has had many more musical opportunities, beyond what he had ever dreamed of before becoming a priest.

And "three years after Dad left, he experienced a major conversion and he came back," Devine said.

GOD CARES

Whether in a vocation to the priesthood or to marriage, "God will take care of whatever obstacles and difficulties in your life," he said.

Devine spoke of three M's for marriage: miracle, mystery and mission.

"Every marriage is a miracle," because in marriage, the "two become one," he said. "It is a miracle that cannot be broken, just as the Eucharist cannot turn back into bread, and God will not revoke your baptism."

It's a mystery, because marriage is a participation in "higher things," in the mystery and love of the Holy Trinity, he said. It's a reflection of the nuptial mystery of Jesus with the Church. "We are the bride and Christ is our groom."