Catholic Vancouver April 15, 2018

Brother Frank takes first step of a ‘great adventure’

By Agnieszka Ruck

Brother Frank Sharma smiles after making his first profession of vows at St. Edmund’s Parish April 7. (Photos by Agnieszka Krawczynski / The B.C. Catholic)

NORTH VANCOUVER—He doesn’t have a map, suitcase, or airplane tickets, but Brother Frank Sharma said he’s just embarked on a “great adventure.”

Brother Sharma made his first profession of vows as a Carmelite in North Vancouver April 7.

“We were wearing these way before Star Wars,” joked Brother Sharma, pointing at his robes after making vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience at St. Edmund’s Parish.

“I thank the Almighty God for giving me the blessed grace to profess my vows today, to be with my family, and to be a member of the religious order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.”

One could say Brother Sharma’s journey to becoming a Carmelite has been a long time coming; he was baptized at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Sri Lanka.

As Sharma grew up, his parents encouraged him to seek out God’s plans. “They never forced us to do anything. It was always: ‘if it is the will of God, go ahead.’”

Brother Sharma first met a Carmelite priest at Camp Latona on B.C.’s Gambier Island, Father Jerald D’Souza, OCD.

“I was so excited,” said Sharma, who has a deep devotion to Our Lady and has actively promoted Marian devotions at various parishes and the now-closed Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre.

“Father Jerry was faithful at being in touch with me. He encouraged without pushing,” said Brother Sharma. “When I was not feeling very good about joining religious life, worried I would be crippled and lose freedom, he always encouraged and supported me.”

Brother Sharma’s parents watch from the first pew as he makes his vows.

Brother Sharma left his Surrey home to enter the novitiate with a Carmelite community in San Jose, Calif., in October 2016. He returned to the Lower Mainland to make his first profession of vows here.

In an email to friends and family, he called it a “baby step” to becoming a full member of the Discalced Carmelites. He is required to live under temporary vows for at least three years before he can profess perpetual vows.

In the meantime, he will begin theological studies with the intention of becoming a priest.

Fellow Carmelites, friends, and family members, came from as far as Prince George and San Jose to see him make his first vows.

“This is a wonderful moment for us,” said Father Rudolf D’Souza, OCD, the Carmelite pastor of Guardian Angels Parish.

“Most of you may not have noticed what happened in the foyer just before the holy Eucharistic celebration. Frank Sharma fell at the feet of his father and mother to get their blessing,” he told the large crowd. “I was really touched.”

In his homily, Father D’Souza said all are called to make sacrifices out of love for God.

“St. Paul instructing us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, holy and acceptable. What is sacrifice? I’m pretty sure Sharma knows what is sacrifice. I’m sure Sharma’s parents know what is sacrifice,” he said.

“This is the spiritual worship all of us can offer to God, through our meditation, through the vows you are making today. This is the living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord. This is what we are called to, all of us.”

The new Carmelite’s mentor, Father Jerald D’Souza, also took the microphone to thank Brother Sharma’s supporters in his new journey.

“Encouragement is an important aspect of our lives,” he told them. “If people don’t encourage us, we cannot go forward. It gives us inspiration to take the first step.”

Brother Sharma will continue living the Discalced Carmelite way of life in the Vancouver area as he pursues the priesthood.

Another man in the novitiate with him, Brother Dustin Vu, made his vows in San Jose March 19. The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is April 22.