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Opus Dei Vicar ‘Zapped’ by God

Canada’s Opus Dei Vicar Msgr. Fred Dolan shares his vocation story with Canadian Catholic News:

On Dec. 5, 1975, Dolan had what he calls his “Road to Damascus” experience. Working on a paper on Gulliver’s Travels, he decided to take a study break. He went over to the center’s book shelf and took down C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. A friend had told him about scene depicting a lizard on a man’s shoulder arguing with his guardian angel on the other. He found it immediately.

“The Holy Spirit used the pages of C.S. Lewis to zap me,” Msgr. Dolan said. Instantly he saw two paths open up before him.

The path of a “numerary,” Opus Dei’s term for members committed to lifelong celibacy, promised “enormous happiness and fruitfulness.”

The other path – that of marriage and a family – also opened up and he saw he could choose it with no problem. He realized instantly, however, the celibate path “was what God wanted” for him…

He’s never experienced any doubt that he made the right decision and remains “grateful” for a “powerful sense I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

“If you give the Holy Spirit ‘carte blanche,’ you just fasten your seat belt and hold on for the ride,” he said. “It’s always pretty good.”

He also said Opus Dei’s support through excellent spiritual direction and the stress on the Sacrament of Penance helps keep any attacks of doubt or conflict at bay. “Nothing gets beyond the level of a brief skirmish,” he said.

Born in 1952, Dolan grew up in Bethesda, Md., as the oldest of six children in a family that took the Catholic faith seriously. His father attended mass daily and his mother converted as a teenager. Dolan said at age 16 he “met Opus Dei just at the right time” through his best friend…

Opus Dei gave him input on how to make his life complete, he said. It helped him develop a disciplined prayer life, take a professional attitude towards his studies, and “aim high in everything I do.”

Pope John Paul II ordained Dolan in 1983 at St. Peter’s in Rome…

Opus Dei celebrates its 50th anniversary of coming to Canada this June, and next year, Msgr. Dolan will celebrate his 10th anniversary here.

I love this part of the article. It’s very typical of an Opus Dei priest:

Msgr. Dolan always wears his clerical collar. In fact, when he was interviewed by CBC Television’s Evan Solomon last year during the height of “The Da Vinci Code” movie controversy, he showed his empty closet, bare except for a few black shirts and slacks off the sparely furnished bedroom bed at his residence in Montreal.

He said the clerical garb signals to others, “I exist for you. How can I serve you?”

“It pays to advertise,” he said, smiling. He often has people coming up to him, asking for prayer. He now makes a practice of going to the train station or the airport at least an hour early so people can approach them. “If priests are invisible, that shuts down,” he said.

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