Erlind Sulko

My name is Erlind Sulko. I am a 31 old man currently living in Gatineau, Canada. I was born in Tirana, Albania to Albanian parents. My parents were diplomats, so I grew up constantly moving from one place to another. Despite being from Albania, I have lived most of my life outside of Albania.  

I lived for 4 years in Budapest, Hungary, and 4 years in Warsaw, Poland. While living in Poland, I took for 4 years Catholic Church class that was taught by nuns in the public school,- explaining Catholic history and Catholic doctrine. Though I was a little child at that point that grew without any religious faith, the love and care of the nuns at the school left a remarkable memory to me. About 13 years ago, my family and I moved to Canada,- which is where I have been living since then.

I grew up in a very loving, but atheist, family. As result, I was raised in an environment where religion was almost never mentioned. I considered myself an atheist, up until I was 20 years old. Around that time, when I was in my first year of undergraduate in Philosophy, a mysterious call, a deep sense of the sacred and gratitude to merely being alive drew me to become more interested in religion in general and spiritual poetry.

I spent a very long time grappling with religion. I was constantly reading about different religious traditions, and becoming more familiar with them. I was seeking for God, but did not know where to go. I was a man lost in endless religious traditions that all claimed the truth. I did not have Catholic friends and my family was not Catholic or even Christian, so I felt without spiritual guidance or help. So I turned into their books. After reading more about different religions and analyzing what they believed, I realized that I need to root myself into Christianity: the Bible spoke to the very core of my being and gave an eternal form and satisfaction to my spiritual yearnings. Once, I was at that stage, I had to decide which Christian denomination.

Through reading more about Christian history and Christian theology, I found the Truth, the Beautiful and the Good in the Catholic Church. Hence, I started attending Mass at different Catholic Churches. But I was not baptized yet and lived for about 2 years with one foot inside the Church and one foot outside the Church. I had too much pride to fully submit myself to the authority of the Church.

Until one day, while walking in the woods, a tremendous, loud and frightening voice spoke to me and said only one word: KNEEL. With tears in my eyes, I knelt, prayed and asked God for forgiveness. I understood the vanity of human conjectures, and that ultimate salvation resides only in God. Right after, I went to the nearest

Catholic Church and told them that I want to get baptized as soon as possible. I started the RCIA program 6 years ago and got baptized 5 years ago.

Since I was baptized, my faith has only strengthened. The grace planted by baptism grew deeper roots day by day. About a year ago, I realized that my love for God is so immense that I want to fully dedicate my life to Him,- and leave my ambition of becoming a philosophy professor. As our Lord, Jesus Christ said: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24). So, about 10 months ago I decided to take up the cross and seriously consider the priesthood and joining a religious order.

I always loved Gregorian chanting in Latin, even before I was Catholic. I found it extremely beautiful and moving: it draws me closer to God. Therefore, joining a monastery where life is constantly punctuated by singing to God through Gregorian chant in Latin seems like the closest place in this world to Heaven.

I have previously published two books in Albanian. The first book, entitled “Kam Etje” (I Thirst), is a collection of spiritual poems in Albanian that I wrote before my baptism recounting my spiritual journey to Christianity. The second book, entitled “Shqyrtime Poetike” (Poetical Investigations), is a collection of essays dealing predominantly with art and literature.

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