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“I left my house and my dog ​​and now anywhere is my home”: the story of the businessman who gave up his wealth to become a priest

“I left my house and my dog ​​and now anywhere is my home”: the story of the businessman who gave up his wealth to become a priest

“I left my house and my dog ​​and now anywhere is my home”: the story of the businessman who gave up his wealth to become a priest

“Good teacher, what do I have to do to get eternal life?”a man asked Jesus and he replied: “go, sell everything you have and distribute the money among the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.”

Since the origins of Christianity, this passage from the Gospels of Saint Mark, Saint Matthew and Saint Luke has been a difficult challenge for most believers.

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However, there are still those who want to refute that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”.

Belgian Patrick van der Vorst is one of them.

The BBC spoke with him to find out what moved him to give up a life of luxury and comfort and spend the last five years preparing to become a priest.

“It was always in my head”

Van der Vorst developed a brilliant career as art dealer at the prestigious London auction house Sotheby’s, where he came to hold the position of director for Europe.

But it was in 2018 when luck finished smiling at him; the achievement make a fortune selling a website he created just a couple of years earlier (valuemystuff.com), through which he offered art and antique owners professional appraisals of their pieces.

Despite the fact that professional and economic success smiled on him, the now religious recognized the program heart and soul from the BBC who was not satisfied.

“I was always happy, but I also had a certain feeling of sadness that grew over time,” he said.

The former art dealer and technology entrepreneur admits that since he was a child he had a great religious curiosity, which increased over time. (GETTY IMAGES)

“The idea of ​​joining the Church and studying to be a priest has always been in my head,” he added.

But why? For his family? Because of his education?

“With my parents we went to mass every Sunday, but I can’t say that my family was particularly religiousthat we pray before each meal, for example,” he said.

However, he admitted that a gift he received in his childhood marked him.

“When I was 8 or 9 years old I received three books on the life of Jesus. It was a biography told through illustrations and drawings. I was fascinated and always had them on my nightstand,” he said.

convergence of passions

Religious curiosity was not the only thing that aroused him from an early age, but also his passion for art.

“My parents used to go to auctions on the weekends. A typical Sunday was to get up, have breakfast, go to mass and then tour the various auction houses and antique markets in Bruges, Ghent and other cities. It was there that my eyes were opened to art“, he commented.

From a young age, Van der Vorst felt a great interest in art, especially antiques, something he attributes to his parents.  (GETTY IMAGES)

From a young age, Van der Vorst felt a great interest in art, especially antiques, something he attributes to his parents. (GETTY IMAGES)

“It’s wonderful to go to an auction, because you can touch the objects, you can open the furniture drawers and smell things. I was fascinated,” he added.

After studying law and art history, Van der Vorst moved to London at the age of 24, where he got a job at the renowned Sotheby’s auction house.

The dynamics in this type of company is wonderful, one week you work with Chinese pieces, the next week with musical instruments and the next with Impressionist paintings. You get to see a lot of art and always the best,” he recalled.

For his work he had to constantly travel to Rome, the center of world Catholicism and one of the great artistic centers of the Western world, with which his two passions met.

Although he admitted that it was the face-to-face treatment with his clients that activated something inside him.

“When you work for companies like Sotheby’s you deal with people in a vulnerable state“, he claimed.

“People need to sell things when they’re getting divorced, their mom passed away or they’re bankrupt and they need money, and you’re right there with them, helping them sell their property and their artwork. I felt like that was the part i enjoyed the most“, he continued.

“Slowly”

Although he liked his work, which he considered “exciting”, Van der Vorst said that over time the doubt grew about whether he was devoting his energies to the right thing.

Van der Vorst has put his knowledge of art and new technologies into practice to carry out a kind of 2.0 evangelization and has created a website where he daily distributes images of large pieces along with biblical passages.  (COURTESY OF PATRICK VAN DER VORST)

Van der Vorst has put his knowledge of art and new technologies into practice to carry out a kind of 2.0 evangelization and has created a website where he daily distributes images of large pieces along with biblical passages. (COURTESY OF PATRICK VAN DER VORST)

“It was a gradual process, little by little,” he said, although he admitted that making the decision to enter the seminary was not an easy one. Especially for what he supposed: give up the possibility of marrying and starting a family.

However, he believes that the fact of not having found the “right” person made it easier, he later told BBC Mundo.

Another obstacle to overcome was the family.

“I remember a conversation I had with my mother before entering the seminary. She told me: ‘why don’t you dedicate yourself to work in a charity organization?'” he recalled.

The former art dealer, specializing in 18th-century French furniture, entered Beda College, a specialized Roman seminary, in September 2019 at the age of 47. in mature vocationswhere he was ordained a deacon, a step prior to the priesthood, last June.

leaving almost everything

But at this point, surely more than one wonders what Van der Vorst did with his money.

“From having a house and a dog in London now I don’t have a house, well my house is the seminary and soon it will be the parish to which they send me,” he said.

Van der Vorst was ordained a deacon last June and will become a priest next summer.  (GETTY IMAGES)

Van der Vorst was ordained a deacon last June and will become a priest next summer. (GETTY IMAGES)

“I have had to leave things, but not allI have enough to deal with any problem that comes my way,” he said on the radio show, where he admitted that he will not take the vow of poverty.

BBC Mundo, for its part, insisted on the matter again and the priest replied: “The bulk of the money I earned I distributed it among my relatives and charities“.

The Belgian assured that his case is not unique and that at Beda College there are 32 people between the ages of 43 and 68, who were previously teachers, nurses, shoemakers or radio presenters.

“It’s a wonderful mix of talents and experiences”commented.

Asked what he aspires to achieve in his new career, he stated: “I want to put the Church on people’s map and make people see how much God loves them.”

To achieve this goal, Van der Vorst has decided to use his knowledge of art and information technology.

Thus, the aspiring priest has created christian.art, a website where an image of a work of art is published daily along with a commented passage from the Gospels.

So far 40,000 people have subscribed to this service evangelizer 2.0.

Source: Elcomercio

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