My name is Brother Kevin O’Byrne a religious brother with the Legionaries of Christ. I am from Regina, Saskatchewan where I grew up on a farm just south of the city with my parents and my older sister. I grew up Catholic but was not practicing and hardly knew anything about the faith. I went through all the sacraments, but after my confirmation, I felt as though I had “graduated” from Church and did not have to come back unless there was some important event like a marriage or a funeral.
All this changed, however, when I was 15 years old when a good friend of mine invited me to come to a Conquest boys retreat at the church which was being directed by two Legionary of Christ brothers. At this time, I was in high school and was trying to figure out what I wanted out of life and what was the point of it all. The retreat was the first time in my life that I felt challenged to live a virtuous, honest life, to be a good person, against the selfishness taught by the rest of society. It was also the first time in my life that I experienced the depth of the love of Christ for me. Before this, my knowledge of the love of God was very childlike from what we had learned in children’s liturgy and in our religion classes at school. But it had never matured into a real encounter with Jesus who loved me so much that he went to the cross in order to save me. Christ was willing to die so that I may be free from sin and have eternal life. The challenge posed to me then was: “What are you willing to do to love Him in return?”
This was the question that gave meaning to my life throughout my high school and my engineering studies at the University of Regina. I could live my life out of love for God. Little by little I learned who God was. For the first time, I opened a bible to read and pray. I read parts of the catechism and learned how to pray the rosary. I began to find other Catholic young people and I continued to be involved in the Conquest Club and Regnum Christi. All this time I was growing in my relationship with God, trying to overcome the sinful habits that I had developed, spending time in adoration, mass, and confession, with the desire to let myself be formed into an apostle and saint for God. I spent the summer before my last year of university as a missionary with Catholic Christian Outreach where I was surrounded by other young people who wanted to share the love of Christ. This lit a missionary spark in my heart and gave me confidence that I could be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. So, after my graduation, I took a year off to be a full-time missionary with Regnum Christi Mission Corps where I helped evangelize high school and university students around Toronto and also in New York.
During this year I was really questioning whether God wanted me to be a priest or not. I loved what I was doing as a missionary and felt as though I would be happy doing it my whole life. So I went to the formation center of the Legionaries in Cheshire, CT for a vocational retreat. Immediately I felt at peace, as though this was where I belonged, as though God wanted me there. After many days of prayer and discernment, I decided to enter the novitiate in Cornwall, Ontario with the Legionaries in 2011. It was difficult since, around this time, the Legion was going through a great crisis because of the actions of its founder which caused much suffering for many priests and laypeople. But despite this, I could not ignore the call that God wanted me to be there. Throughout my time in Cornwall and later in my further studies in Cheshire and Rome I have experienced firsthand the renewal of the Legion with its desire to remain faithful to Christ and His Church through personal conversion, authentic humility, discernment, and prayer. As I grew in my vocation, I realized that a call to follow Christ does not come from our own decision and actions. It is not me who chose Him, but Him who chose me. A vocation is a gift of grace that can be accepted or not. It is the way in which God wants us to love Him and others in the best way possible and is our own personal path to holiness. God willing, this July 29th I will be ordained a deacon in Regina, and on April 27th a priest in Rome. My first years of ministry will take place in Dallas, TX where I hope to share the love of Christ in the same way that he was shared with me. Please keep me in your prayers.
Br. Kevin O’Byrne’s, LC, diaconate ordination will be July 29th, 2023 at 12:30 pm EST at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Regina, SK, Canada, presided by His Excellency Bishop Stephen Hero.