Brother Michael Angelus Perez SSS really needs no introduction to the many who have benefitted from his ministry and presence. He bears witness to the Eucharistic love of Christ through his gift of self. Brother Michael has preached novenas, spoken lovingly about our Blessed Sacrament missions in foreign lands, and been involved in formation ministry for much of his religious life. He did all of this along with serving the local communities as receptionist, infirmarian, person-in-charge, and other house duties.
“As I understand my vocation story, after 50 years of entering (1963-2013), when l was a boy between the ages of 6 and 8, every night my Mother would read me a page from the life of St. Martin de Porres, a lay-brother who belonged to the Order of Friars Preachers [i.e., the Dominicans] in Lima, Peru, in period of time of 1500-1600. God graced him with the gifts of miracles. His love of peoples and animals, healing the sick, bi-locating (i.e., being in two places at the same time) fascinated me. Without ever having seen a religious Brother I wanted to be one from that moment on.”
In his own words, Brother Michael defines for us what a religious brother is: “A religious brother is a layman, called by Christ into deeper relationship with Him, by living more intently his own baptismal consecration in community with his brothers as expressed by the profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.” The Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament is blessed to have both priests and “lay-brothers,” or more simply put “brothers.” Both vocations (priesthood or brotherhood) are equally called to a life of Eucharistic service in the Congregation.
In recalling his vocation story, Brother Michael notes that he first encountered religious brothers while he was in high school. “I was taught by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Irish Christian Brothers, the Marist Brothers of the Schools (they invited me to join them when I was fifteen!) and the Xaverian Brothers.”
So, how did Brother Michael get to know and join the Blessed Sacrament Fathers and Brothers?
“When I was about 17 years old, I helped an Assumptionist lay-brother give Catechism classes to street children on Saturday afternoons. He also invited me to join their community. The true invitation came on June 30, 1963, when I entered the Church of Saint Jean Baptiste in New York City and saw the Blessed Sacrament exposed and the two Religious kneeling on the prie-dieux.”
“At that moment I said: ‘I want to live a contemplative life, in a congregation of priests, working side by side as a Catechist with them, adoring the Blessed Sacrament’.”
Indeed, Brother Michael has gone to make history himself just by faithfully and lovingly serving the Church as a Blessed Sacrament Brother, for which we are grateful.