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Sailing Away to A Missionary Life

 Alejandro Calderon
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For six years Bro. Daniel Bourg, O.M.I. was a member of the U.S. Navy. He spent much of that time aboard the USS Enterprise, working as a steam/propulsion mechanical operator. It was his job to help make the ship go.

Today, Bro. Daniel is an Oblate seminarian whose path to the priesthood is propelling rapidly. He is ready to go into a missionary life of service to the poor and needy.

“When you work deep in the belly of the ship, you don’t get the attention like the people up on deck,” said Bro. Daniel. “But without the people down below, nothing gets done. I see the Oblates as those people, they don’t get the glory, they just make things go.”

Brother Daniel has been going towards life as a Missionary Oblate since childhood, with a few detours along the way. He was an only child in a family that moved around a lot until settling in rural Minnesota. At the age of 17, he moved to San Antonio, Texas and began attending St. Anthony High School, which had formerly been an Oblate junior seminary.

“At that time I had a feeling God might be calling me to the priesthood, but it wasn’t the right time yet,” said Bro. Daniel.

So Bro. Daniel enlisted in the Navy and served for six years, including a deployment to the Persian Gulf. Brother Daniel said working on the ship showed him the importance of community life and working together as a team, two characteristics that are also important of a missionary priest.

After his time in the Navy, Bro. Daniel thought he would study theology as a layman. He returned to San Antonio and inquired about classes at Oblate School of Theology. He felt a connection to the Oblates. Not only had he attended high school at their former seminary, his dad was working as a nurse at the Oblate Madonna House, caring for retired Oblates. During a meeting with the local Vocation Director, Fr. Charlie Banks, O.M.I. Bro. Daniel accepted an invitation to take part in a Come and See vocation retreat.

“At the Come and See I decided that this was something I could do, live and pray at the Oblate pre-novitiate while going to college to study philosophy,” said Bro. Daniel.

After graduating from D’Youville College with a B.A. in Philosophy, Bro. Daniel spent a year discerning his calling further at the Oblate novitiate in Godfrey, Illinois. He then returned to San Antonio to continue his studies for the priesthood at Oblate School of Theology.

Currently, Bro. Daniel is doing a pastoral internship with the Oblates on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. It is one of the Oblates’ most isolated missions in the United States. Brother Daniel, who had spent years aboard a ship, said he had no hesitation about going so far away.

“When they asked me where I wanted to do my internship I asked where was the farthest mission I could go,” said Bro. Daniel. They said Alaska so that’s what I chose.”

Another step in the missionary journey to the priesthood for Bro. Daniel.