Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers
I was born in Barbados and immigrated to the United States when I was two and a half years old.
My wife Colleen and I have been married for 18 years and we have four beautiful children: Claire (14), Angela (12), and Benjamin and Sophia (9).
Having kids has brought me closer to God by allowing me to exercise patience and heroic virtue.
I am the President and CEO of Servant Enterprises, Inc., a non-profit organisation that also hosts an international institute for Catholic male spirituality, coordinates speaking tours and retreats, and develops products and services that support family life.
I am also the Director and Managing Partner of The Greatest Commandments, LLC.
So far, we have produced The Greatest Commandments: A 40-Week Spiritual Journey for Married Couples, a marriage enrichment program rooted in Biblical values designed to help husbands and wives know, trust and love God throughout their marriage.
I hold a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Business Administration from the University of Notre Dame, and a Master’s degree in Theological Studies from the University of Dallas.
I hope to start doctoral studies within the next two years or so. I am a Benedictine Oblate of Mt Angel Abbey, an associate member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, and a member of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy.
I give lectures, retreats, and seminars in parishes, workshops, and at numerous conferences across the nation and around the world.
I have appeared in Envoy Magazine, The Catholic World Report and The National Catholic Register, and on many national and international radio programs, including Catholic Answers Live, Catholic Connection, and Kresta in the Afternoon. My first book, The Mass in Sacred Scripture, was recently released and I am a frequent Eternal Word Television Network contributor.
When I’m home, my office serves as my “chapel.” I travel over 160,000 kilometres a year for my work so I often pray in airports or on planes.
I pray the full Liturgy of the Hours everyday (Vigils and Lauds in the morning, None in the afternoon, and Vespers and Compline in the evening) I also recite a prayer throughout the day: “Jesus I love you, Jesus I trust you, Jesus I give my life to you.”
This helps me to keep things in perspective in the midst of a very busy life.
Prayer is a conversation with God. You really can’t get to know someone well without speaking with him or her personally.
I love formal, structured prayer that moves the mind and the heart.
I’ve loved the Divine Office long before I was “required” to pray it as an ordained minister.
Every life situation imaginable is in the Psalms and I often lose myself in them.
My breviary is stuffed with prayer cards which I utilise often while travelling.
I also enjoy praying the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and the Prayer to St Michael the Archangel.
I like praying by myself and with monks. When I’m alone, I can savour each moment of intimacy with God in prayer, often using Latin.
I am a huge fan of Eucharistic Adoration. With the monks, I enjoy the harmony and rhythm of chanting the Office, where disparate voices come together as one, which reminds me of Saint Paul’s analogy of the Body of Christ: “Though many parts, we are all one body in Christ.” (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
The strongest influence on my prayer life would be my mother.
My dad was pagan and my mum was a convert. She sent my siblings and me to Catholic school and made sure we went to Mass every week.
Anytime I showed an interest in a faith-based activity, she always supported and encouraged me – like altar serving.
I also saw the great sacrifices she made so that we could be successful and that made a huge impact.
Another influence on the way I pray would be the Benedictine monks of Newark Abbey who ran my high school, St Benedict’s Prep.
I spent a lot of time with them during high school and during the summers when I was home from college.
It was through them that I learned to love the Liturgy of the Hours and Latin.
The Benedictines truly nurtured my ever-deepening desire for union with God and His holy will in my life.
There are lots of different faiths but it was the Catholic Church that was founded by Jesus Christ (Matthew 16:18, 18:18; John 20: 19-23).
In college, I struggled with long held Catholic beliefs (although I never left the Church) and, for a while, fell under the spell of self-aggrandised professors who thought they knew better than the Church.
It wasn’t long before I realised how unhappy and unfulfilled I was living according to “my” truth.
Reading Blessed John Paul II changed my life. He gave me the “why” behind the “what” of Church teaching.
He gave me reasons to believe that made complete and perfect sense, reasons that went to the very core of who I am.
Through John Paul II, I found myself and I’ve never looked back.
The reason I remain Catholic is that what the Church teaches is true, good and beautiful. Centred in objective truth, the Magisterium (or “teaching authority”) of the Church protects and defends those truths, known collectively as the Deposit of Faith, i.e., Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition.
I love and trust the Church as my spiritual mother, just as I loved and trusted my earthly mother.
My father becoming a Christian who is on fire for Christ was amazing and totally unexpected.
He destroyed our family and my parent’s marriage through multiple affairs and drinking.
If a man like that could come to know the loving and life-giving power of Jesus Christ, than there is hope for anyone.
I didn’t have to deal with my feelings about my parent’s divorce until I entered the monastery after college.
My dad wanted me to make a lot of money so he could be proud and brag to his friends, but I wanted to follow God. We basically stopped speaking after that until about three years ago.
In a very real sense, God the Father would become my new father and the Abbot of the monastery my spiritual father.
I left the monastery after my mum became ill and nearly died.
It was supposed to be a temporary leave but, at a wedding, I met the woman who would eventually become my wife.
As our relationship progressed, I became increasingly afraid of getting married.
I spent six months discerning whether I should get married or go back to the monastery.
I wanted to make sure my thinking of returning to the monastery wasn’t because I was afraid my marriage would turn out like my parents.
This was a very intense time of prayer and complete submission to the will of God.
I discerned a call to marriage and the rest, as they say, is history.
Without my faith I guess I would be a moral relativist like almost everyone else instead of being “in the world but not of the world” as Christ commands (see John 17:16).
How boring would that be?