"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord"
Joy. Blessed. Excitement. These three words describe how I am feeling as I approach Final Vows.
Joy. As I approach my final profession, I can exclaim with joy that I have discerned that God is calling me to this moment. God has called me to religious life as a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Throughout the course of my initial formation, I have come to know who I am as God sees me and how I continue to grow into that person. It has been through continual reflection on each of the vows, poverty, chastity and obedience that has enabled me to serve Jesus with a renewed sense of spirit, freedom and peace. At this point in my life, I cannot imagine what my life would be like without Holy Cross. The road to final profession has been one filled with many blessings and challenges that have helped me to discern my vocation and I look forward to the future in how my life will potentially lead others to discern their own vocation and encounter Jesus Christ.
Blessed. I am truly blessed to be able to profess the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience forever. It is a privilege to be able to call myself a Holy Cross religious and to follow in the footsteps of a great band of men, many who have gone before me and many more who I have had the opportunity to call my brothers.
I am blessed to be able to live and work at St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church in Austin, TX. St. Ignatius parish is a vibrant parish community united in Christ to be His Bread for the world. This mission speaks to the depth of the faith of those who call St. Ignatius home. The parishioners love their parish and their community and to be able to share in this love is truly an honor and a blessing. I live with two wonderful priests, Fr. Bill Wack, C.S.C., and Fr. Paul Ybarra, C.S.C. Fr. Paul and I were in formation at the same time when I was a postulant and he was a temporarily professed seminarian. Being able to observe these two men in their religious life inspires me to continue to grow in my own.
Excitement. I am excited to profess Final Vows in Holy Cross. This excitement is elevated especially because I will be able to celebrate with my family and friends who have been so influential and who have supported me throughout this journey. Further elevating this excitement for final profession is that the people of St. Ignatius parish have been praying and walking with me over the course of the last two months. Whether it is after Mass on Sundays or when I am visiting classrooms at the school, everyone is constantly asking me when is final profession and when can they start calling me Deacon Dan. The knowledge that so many people are praying for me as well as my classmates as we get closer to final profession provides me with the feeling that I have a whole community behind me as I make this next step in my life.
Earlier today I was reviewing Holy Cross' new Vocations Curriculum for Catholic primary schools and as I was reading the material, I couldn't help but think about my own calling to the vocation of religious life and priesthood. It was in reading the curriculum for younger children aged Kindergarten through Second Grade that I began to think about the language used to describe one's vocation as 'God's dream for one's life' and that God's dream is in fact my deepest dream for my life. It's simple when it comes down to it.
What is God's dream for my life? Discernment has led me to believe that I am being called by God to profess Final Vows with the Congregation of Holy Cross. This calling is an invitation to join a band of men who are joined together in a brotherhood that supports, challenges and prays for each other. Holy Cross enables me to my best self my truest self. I am truly blessed to be able to enter into final profession with a great sense of joy, peace and excitement for the journey that lies ahead.
Mr. Dan Ponisciak, C.S.C. is preparing to profess his Final Vows on September, 13, 2014. He will be ordained a transitional deacon the following day, and will be ordained a priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in the spring of 2015. He has been assigned to serve at St. Ignatius Martyr Parish in Austin, Texas during his diaconate year.