Father Paul Vieson, S.M. ’62, director of the Marianist Archives, brings to his answers the learning of a centuries-old heritage and the experience of half a century as a Marianist.
Why did you choose to become a Marianist? —Teri Dickison, Pleasant Hill, Ohio
Before I discovered girls, I found the Dominicans to be an interesting religious order; I liked their habits. Then, I went to Purcell Marian High School in Cincinnati and met the Marianists, who took a personal interest in the skinny kid with the big glasses who was hopeless in gym class but liked the library. My Marianist teachers were dynamic classroom presences, cultured and devoted. The Dominicans never had a chance after that.
Over the years, what moments have you encountered that confirmed your calling? —Susan Terbay, Dayton
When we are at peace with what we are and do, even if it is not spectacular, we know we are in the right place and engaged in the right life. I think that growing sense of peace confirmed me again and again over the years even when I had some second thoughts. There were few special graced moments and certainly no apparitions that said, “This is it!”
Who first introduced you to libraries and how? —Jane Dunwoodie, Dayton
My father took me to the public library in Cincinnati where I grew up. Dad allowed me to select books from the “grown-up” section where I usually chose histories and biographies. My family encouraged me to read. “Give Paul a book and that’s the last you will hear of him all day,” was a favorite family saying.
What instruction from the Marianist founders do you think is especially relevant for lay people today? —Fran Rice ’76, West Milton, Ohio
The necessity of building Catholic community that embraces many vocations: marriage; single state; consecrated religious; priests — each vocation bound to the others in a common Marian consecration as “a union without confusion” and an example to the church as a whole. When the Marianist family does that, we will, by God’s good grace, convert the world.
Is there a particular writer that you would recommend that others read for spiritual formation? —Carole Wiltsee, Kettering, Ohio
The late Father Emil Neubert, S.M., writings on Mary; any of the publications of the North American Center for Marianist Studies are good introductions to Marianist spirituality and heritage and always enriching.
UD is welcoming to persons of all faiths. What Marianist traditions most resonate with non-Catholics? —Elizabeth Moore Jacobs, Tipp City, Ohio
The most impressive Marianist and UD characteristic I hear repeated over and over is how welcoming we are. Parents have observed that the campus is so very friendly. Alumni remember the close friendships and community they developed during their UD career and that still endure. Hospitality is a very Marian virtue; and Marianist communities, both religious and lay, cultivate that virtue.
Did you ever think about leaving the Society of Mary? —Terri Lauer, Clayton, Ohio
Commitment is made stronger when it is challenged. I have been challenged several times in 53 years as a Marianist: by occasional difficult community assignments; attractions to the joys of marriage; and even the moment of doubt that it was all worth it. But, fraternal support and prayer and a determination to be faithful, to persevere and not walk away from a challenge, brought me through. If I had to do it all over again, I would.
How has your devotion to Mary impacted your ministry both as a priest and an archivist? What is your favorite prayer? —Susan Terbay, Dayton
Many Marian virtues have helped to shape my life as a Marianist religious and a Marianist priest. Faith, prayer, openness to others may well be stronger in my life because of my consecration to Mary — not my doing but the work of grace. Mary’s son and His mother do surprise us with what they can make of poor material. Apart from the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary, I have a fondness for this one, especially when I am anxious:
Mary, dearest Mother,
You can’t say you can’t.
You won’t say you won’t.
So, you will, won’t you,
For our next issue, ask your question of Brother Bernard Ploeger, S.M. ’71, president of Chaminade University. Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.