Frater Caesarius Marple (right) made his perpetual vows at Westminster Abbey in Mission B.C., Sept. 4, along with Brother Maximus (Jerome) Spoeth of St. Paul.
MISSION, B.C. — John Marple always knew he wanted to serve God in some way. But when the idea that he could become a monk floated his way, he totally rejected it.
"It was the last thing I wanted."
Ironically, Marple, 24, is now officially a Benedictine monk, having made his perpetual vows at Westminster Abbey Sept. 4. His religious name is Frater Caesarius Marple.
"My call started from not wanting to listen to what God wanted me to do," he says. "Now I'm perpetually professed forever and I've never been happier."
Marple, currently in his second year of theology at Seminary of Christ the King, expects to be ordained to the priesthood in about three years. He may end up teaching in the high school or seminary following ordination.
Born and raised in Edmonton, John Marple is the fourth of eight children in the family of Chuck and Jeri Marple, a well-known Catholic couple.
When John was in Grade 2, the Marples pulled their five oldest children out of school and Jeri started homeschooling.
"They pulled us out of school because they wanted to bring us up in our faith," said Marple. "They taught us solid doctrine."
The family went to Mass every morning. "We actually went to the Pastoral Centre at the 8 o'clock Mass for quite a number of years." During weekends the family attended Mass at Assumption Church, their base parish.
Marple was homeschooled till Grade 9 and completed high school at Austin O'Brien Catholic School.
There he began to question his faith. "I was wondering, is this something that my parents believe and they just taught me and it's just with them or is this something that is really true?"
Fortunately, his parents had taught him solid values.
"My parents always told us if you do God's will you'll be happy and that always stuck with me. And my dad always told us, 'Boy, it never hurts to give God the first option. And if you give God the first option, he'll let you know if he is calling you or not.'"
At the end of Grade 12, Marple was trying to discern what God wanted him to do "and I had no idea."
His three older siblings had already decided. One brother became an economist, another a mechanical engineer and his sister a nurse.
By then Marple was familiar with the Seminary of Christ the King, having met some of the boys who attended high school there and the seminary rector, who once gave several talks at the Family Life Conference at Lac Ste. Anne.
"And so I said maybe I will give the seminary a try. I'll give God the first option, see what he wants me to do."
Once while he and his dad went to St. Andrew's Chapel for adoration, Marple told his dad of his intentions.
"My dad was quite surprised because out of all the kids, I was the most homebody person; I just liked spending time at home and he thought I would get married and have lots of kids."
But his dad was supportive and drove John to Mission in September 2005. For the first two weeks Marple cried and ended up going home sick. He had never been away from home for so long.
"Then when I was in the seminary I started hearing God calling me to join the monastery."
"I was thinking, that's the last thing I want to do. I simply can't join the monastery and become a monk. Am I going to leave my family forever? No, there is no way God would want me to do that."
He kept fighting God's call until he reached a point of total frustration. "I thought, 'God, you've got to do something. I can't live like this.'"
He then knelt before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and said, "Lord, you have to do something. I'll pray the chaplets of Divine Mercy everyday and you just have to do something."
Three weeks later, as he finished saying the chaplet, "All of a sudden God gave me the grace to accept what he wanted me to do. I was finally at peace. I knew then this must be from God."
Then in November 2006, during his second year in the seminary, Marple booked an appointment with Abbot John Brangaza, who accepted his application to become a monk.
What does a life of contemplation have to offer the world?
"Can we live without God? That's the ultimate question," Marple quickly replied. "The whole meaning of our life is from God. I look at it this way: each of us has a vocation and is unique and each one has to find God's plan for our life.
"God's called me to be a monk but he is not only calling me to be a monk on earth; God is calling me to be a monk ultimately in heaven."
The Benedictines are a semi-contemplative order that runs Seminary of Christ the King and a high school. There are 37 high school students and 25 in the college, all discerning their vocations.