Peterson decided to talk to a priest who was a good friend of his family, and who also happened to be a Capuchin friar, about this call he had been experiencing. They met and talked for two hours about the life of Capuchin friars, and afterwards, Peterson decided to attend a vocation retreat the next month, where he got to see the life of the friars firsthand.
"At the beginning of the weekend I was like this is crazy, what am I doing here," he said.
But after seeing the friars in action, "by the end of the weekend...I said this is what I want to do with the rest of my life."
The difference between priesthood and brotherhood
Peterson said that over the years, the call from God had evolved from what he thought was a call to the priesthood into a call to be a Capuchin brother. Part of the reason for this, he said, was that he felt that he was also called to continue being a lawyer, and Capuchin friars often continuing working in the fields in which they were working before they joined the order.
"In the Franciscan world, when St. Francis started the order, you did what you did before, you just did it now as a religious," Peterson said. "So the priests who were already priests were now Franciscan priests, and the carpenters who came in were now Franciscan carpenters...so now I'm a Franciscan lawyer," he said.
"I don't feel called, and frankly my gifts don't mesh well, with presiding at the sacraments, so while I love the sacraments, I love participating in them, I don't feel called to lead them. But at the same time I do feel called to the Capuchin Franciscan life, the life of a brother," he added.
One of the main components of being part of a religious order is living in community, Peterson said, which can be both a challenge and a grace.
"You're living with people that you don't get to choose, so you're talking about different generations of folks, different interests, and the little things like people leaving crumbs behind and not picking up after themselves - things that I think any family struggles with," he said.
"And so it has its challenges, but there's also some really neat things," he said, like the rivalry between the Yankees fans and the Red Sox fans within his own community. Another gift of community life is the universality of the community - there are about 11,000 Capuchin friars all over the world.
"The idea that you have something in common with people you don't even share a language with is something I'm kind of still in awe of," he said. "You find ways to share that commonality despite all the differences."
(Story continues below)
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Together, the community shares common prayer times, including Mass and meditation, in the morning. During the day, each brother serves in his particular ministry, which might take place outside of the friary, as is the case for Peterson, who works as a canon lawyer for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Other brothers serve within the order, either in forming younger friars or other ministries. In the evening, the brothers return home and again have dinner and additional prayer time together.
"Priests are a little bit more independent, they don't have to live common life, they don't take the three vows that a religious takes of poverty, chastity and obedience. They promise obedience to their bishop, but they don't take vows of poverty. They are called to perfect continence but they don't vow that, although it is one of their obligations," he said.
"A lot of people will ask me why aren't you a priest? You're smart enough, and so on," Peterson said.
Ultimately, he said, it comes down to the call from the Lord, who knows what will make each person happy.
"I'd rather be a happy brother," Peterson said. "I think the world is better served by a happy brother than an unhappy priest."