Deacon Cole Powers

"I feel like someone who has stumbled on an immense treasure"

Ten years ago Cole Powers met Christ through the friendship of the CLU and the Carthusian nuns of Chertsey. On May 13th, he will be ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Toronto. He recounts here his beautiful journey of faith.
Cole Powers

I come from Toronto, and I’m the oldest of three boys. Growing up, my parents always encouraged my curiosity and all of the passing obsessions that little boys tend to fall into. I would get obsessed with different subjects every couple of weeks: one week it would be geology, one week it would be scuba diving, another week it would be psychology. And for a couple of weeks I would be absolutely convinced that when I grew up, I would do that thing. But after I became a little more familiar with whatever I was passionate about that week, the shine would kind of wear off. So I grew up not really knowing what I wanted to do, because everything seemed like it would eventually disappoint me. As a result, I taught myself not to put all of my energy into anything I did, not to really give things my ‘all’, and to just kind of live life on the sidelines, instead of joining the match.

One day, at the end of high school, my favourite teacher, who taught me to love literature, turned to me and said: “you haven’t really done any work at all during these past four years, have you?” That moment first of all made me feel extremely embarrassed and ashamed. But the more that I reflected on it, the more I realized that it was exactly what I needed to hear. Actually, it’s been one of the most useful things anyone has ever told me. It kindled a fire in my heart to find something worth devoting myself to, to find something really worth working for, worth living for!

I graduated from public high school and went to university in Montreal to study philosophy and English literature when I was 18. This made me even more confused. It wasn’t until a chance encounter with a co-worker during the summer of my first year of university that things became more clear. We were guiding a small Jewish day school from Toronto on a tour of St joseph’s Oratory when I saw my co-worker genuflect in the Church. I had actually never seen someone genuflecting before, because I was not raised Catholic. I had been inside of a Church maybe three or four times prior to that in my life, so it was a shock to the system to observe a gesture that seemed straight out of the middle ages before my eyes. When I asked her about it later, she explained that she was Catholic, and she offered to introduce me to some friends of hers on campus.

My idea of Catholic people growing up was that they were a little bit unfortunate. My idea came from movies and TV: Catholics were usually old, kind of glum, very uptight, they didn’t like it when other people were enjoying life in any way or having any kind of fun, and they weren’t warm or affectionate.

I was really surprised, then, to encounter the friends my co-worker had spoken about. These people were full of joy, enthusiastic about faith and about life. It was a reality that I literally was incapable of imagining for myself. At some point, after hanging around with them more and more, they invited me to come to a weekend away at the monastery in Chertsey where there are contemplative Carthusian nuns. This was the ultimate hurdle for someone who had not grown up in the Church. I thought that these sisters must be a little bit demented to live secluded lives as they did. When I met them, again, my expectations were overturned. They were simply the happiest people I had ever met in my life. I said to myself in my heart at that moment: whatever they have, I want it.

That began my journey towards baptism, and I am close to celebrating 10 years as a Catholic. When I met those sisters and started walking towards Christ within the Church, it felt like a leaky bucket I had been trying desperately to fill my whole life was all of a sudden overflowing without my having to do anything. There was someone else who was starting to draw me more and more to himself. I started to visit a monastery dedicated to the blessed Sacrament where they had 24h adoration, and that convinced me, slowly, of a call to consecrate myself totally to the Lord.

When I later returned to Toronto for graduate studies in philosophy, it was with Fr Chris Lemieux’s help and guidance that I was able to visit the seminary and hear the Lord saying in my heart that his grace was enough for me. I often think of that moment as the true origin of my vocation to the priesthood, and it was then that I committed myself to see if this was what the Lord was calling me to.

I quite simply could not have imagined becoming a priest when I was younger. I had never even seen one up close before. But now I feel like someone who has stumbled on an immense treasure. I am so glad to become a priest, and I hope that I can offer to others the service they need to experience what I have experienced in the Church.