Congratulations, Shane Dunlevy!

On Saturday, the Eastern Province Dominicans announced their 2013 Novitiate Class, including my good friend Shane Dunlevy. Here is Shane’s vocation story:

Shane Dunlevy
I was born in Columbus, Ohio and raised 30 minutes south east of the city on 2-1/2 acres surrounded by cornfields and forests. As the youngest, I would often adventure off with my 2 older brothers, while my sister, the oldest, did more civilized things. My parents taught elementary in the public school system, and chose to send us to public schools and CCD. As a family, we attended Mass weekly, and our mother would pray with us before we went to sleep. Our parents loved us, and gave themselves to us financially and emotionally, always emphasizing academics, athletics, work ethic and faith.

Though I was raised Catholic from my youth, it wasn’t until my later years of high school that I discovered the Catechism. Learning the teachings of the Catholic Church and her intelligence moved me to live the Faith more fully. The summer of 2004 I volunteered as a counselor at the Diocese of Columbus’s Catholic Youth Summer Camp. During confession on the last night of camp, I could hear God calling me to be His priest. This happened two weeks before the start of my freshman year at Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture + Design; I went to school, delaying my discernment.

After completing my Bachelor and Master of Architecture at Virginia Tech, I designed churches for two years at an architecture firm in Arlington, Virginia. While working for a few years, I was also in a relationship with a fantastic woman. When we began to consider marriage, we could see God was leading me to a different vocation. Though it took several years and countless reasons, I’m pursuing the call thanks to the writing of Dante and St. Augustine, the preaching of Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen and Fr. Robert Barron, and the generosity and love of my brother Joseph and Fr. Michael Kelly, priest for the Arlington Diocese.

I discovered the Dominicans during Tenebrae of 2012, and I considered the life after meeting with the vocation directors of Arlington and Columbus. Living near the Dominican House of Studies has afforded me the chance to pray, eat and converse with the brothers. I find the balance of contemplative and apostolic life, the charism of study, the reverence of the liturgy and the fraternal community all things that could lead to a happy life fulfilled by giving people knowledge of salvation.

A spiritual family tree (from L-R): Fr. Michael Kelly, Shane Dunlevy,
and Brother Ignatius (who helped Fr. Kelly discern his vocation).

One of the reasons that I’m thrilled that Shane has been accepted is that our vocational paths are intertwined. We were in a men’s group together at St. Mary’s in Alexandria, Virginia. In 2010, a brand-new priest, Fr. Michael Kelly, took over from Fr. John De Celles as the head of our men’s group (here’s my reaction to our first meeting with him). He encouraged both Shane and I to take our vocational discernment seriously, and to get to know each another better. That advice led each of us to the seminary, and caused us to form a close and spiritually edifying friendship.

So as always, pray for vocations! And if you see someone you think might be called to be a priest, or a religious brother or sister, let them know. It could make a world of difference.

Earlier this year, I had the joy of celebrating the Feast of St. Basil the Great with Shane. Here’s how St. Gregory Nazianzen described by his friendship with Basil:

I was not alone at that time in my regard for my friend, the great Basil. I knew his irreproachable conduct, and the maturity and wisdom of his conversation. I sought to persuade others, to whom he was less well known, to have the same regard for him. Many fell immediately under his spell, for they had already heard of him by reputation and hearsay. […] 
Our single object and ambition was virtue, and a life of hope in the blessings that are to come; we wanted to withdraw from this world before we departed from it. With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions. We followed the guidance of God’s law and spurred each other on to virtue. If it is not too boastful to say, we found in each other a standard and rule for discerning right from wrong.

I couldn’t possibly say it any better. Oh, and for the record: we almost went to the Franciscan monastery for Tenebrae in 2012.

Edit: From Benedict Croell, O.P., here are the men who will be Shane’s classmates. Congratulations to them all!


  1. Thank you, Joe, it’s been a joy to have you as a friend. I look forward to the day we can call each other brother priest. God’s hand has truly blessed the Arlington Diocese with priests like Fr. DeCelles and Fr. Kelly, as well as with all the faithful laity who strive for holiness. The vocations continue to come, as there are two solid men discerning the call; please pray for them.

    St. Gregory’s words are full of love and power. I can’t help but contemplate on one of his sentences, “With this end in view we ordered our lives and all our actions.” It brings to mind St. Augustine’s famous saying, that we are restless until we rest in Him. Also, St. Paul in 1 Cor 9: 24 … “run as to win.” Yet even more so, St. Gregory’s word embody the Christian Ethic as stated by St. Thomas Aquinas, recta ratio agibilium, right reason in action, or prudence.

    When our lives become ordered to their end, God’s Will, we are able to be fulfilled and at peace. It seems like foolishness to the world to submit yourself to the will of another, but with Wisdom, resisting His Will is seen as self destructive. That is why the priests wear the Roman Collar, a sign of their enslavement to Christ.

  2. Congratulations Shane! I am really happy to hear this truly great news! The Dominicans have played such a large role in our short life as a family that I am truly delighted to know that you will increase their numbers. We were married by a Dominican priest in a Dominican parish, in Seattle, WA, and our little son bears the name of your founder. I also put him under the protection of St. Dominic and all of the Dominicans in heaven when he was in NICU and he is now a healthy, happy, baby boy.

    I am really, truly very happy for you and for our Mother the Church. I hope to see you soon and you can expect a big hug from me when I see you.

    All the best,

    Carlos Olea

    1. Carlos,

      Thank you so much, and I hopeful that your family’s relationship with the OP continues to deepen. I wasn’t aware of Dominic’s condition after birth, but it sounds like he’s in good hands. I hope to meet him soon, right after that big hug of course.

      God Bless,

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