Life during the COVID-19 pandemic has changed in many ways, but we thank God for His abundant goodness and our being able to celebrate another August profession ceremony. On Aug. 1, five young men who are in formation for the priesthood professed the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Today, we want you to meet Ryan Agbim SVD.
Name: Ryan Agbim SVD
Hometown: Florham Park, N.J.
Ministry during novitiate: Life Learning Center in Wheeling, Ill.
Favorite book: Too hard to choose. Currently, I’m reading Carl Jung and Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.
Tell me about a time when you felt God’s presence: At times when I pray the Rosary, I feel a great sense of peace in my heart, as if everything is going to be okay in the end. Any and all worries evaporate into thin air, and all I’m left with is the assurance that God’s providence is real. This is even more amplified in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
When did you first feel the call to be a missionary?
I began thinking about the call to be a missionary when I spoke with the vocation director for my diocese in New Jersey. This was during my junior year of college at Rutgers. I wanted to respond to the call of the priesthood, so I naturally went to the diocese first. However, I didn’t feel as though being a diocesan priest was the kind of vocation with which I felt comfortable. I enjoy international travel too much. In fact, I originally wanted to be a part of Doctors Without Borders prior to my call. I was overjoyed when Father Adam MacDonald called me to discuss the Divine Word Missionaries. I felt as though God was saying, “Here, this is what you are looking for, right?” Ever since that conversation, I never looked back; the Divine Word mission is what I want to pursue.
How has living with the Divine Word brothers and priests at Techny inspired you?
Living with the more experienced members of the Society of the Divine Word was a great blessing. Hearing stories about all the experiences in places like Ghana, Papua New Guinea and so many other places across the globe inspired me to have my own missionary endeavor. They really set a good example for us.
What was the biggest challenge during this past year?
The biggest challenge of course was getting to know myself. Carl Jung has a brilliant idea of the “shadow.” This is basically the “dark side” of the psyche that is within every person. This year was a time for me to face my “shadow.” I spent a lot of time in self-contemplation. Learning about my Enneagram number (I’m a 7) brought me face to face with my main weakness. Acknowledging these weaknesses was a difficult process; however, life would be even more arduous if I had chosen to stay ignorant. The result of this shadow contemplation was an even deeper understanding of not only myself but of God and humanity itself. The graces this experience brought was tremendous.
How did the early experience of novitiate change after the COVID-19 pandemic began?
The pandemic changed our novitiate experience dramatically. All our ministries were effectively cancelled. We could not leave the property for months. During this time, we assisted the kitchen, nursing and housekeeping staff in their duties since they could not work in the same capacity as before. As rewarding as this was for us, we did miss our initial forms of ministry (taking Communion to the sick and home bound and tutoring after-school students). The pandemic has certainly made our novitiate an unforgettable one. Let’s continue praying for those who are suffering!
What are your hopes for the coming year?
My hope this coming year is to finally begin my theological studies. I’m excited for how it will challenge me, and I fully expect to mature even more as a person and hopeful priest.