Upbringing at mission station left deep impressions on religious brother

We’re all shaped in one way or another by our childhoods, but for Bro. David Nikins, SVD, the environment where he was raised helped him recognize his call to religious life at an early age.

Young David was raised in the Mt. Hagen Western Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea by a family that was deeply committed to the Catholic faith. He has one brother and three sisters. His father was a parish Catechist at Kumdi Parish in the Mt. Hagen Archdiocese for 30 years. Bro. David and his family actually lived in a mission station during his childhood.

Bro. David spent plenty of time with priests and religious brothers in his youth, an experience that helped him recognize his own calling to religious life when he was just about 10 years old.

“Growing up in the mission station, all I knew was going to school, prayer and going to church,” he said. “I participated in a lot of church activities, and I was convinced to become a religious or priest one day.”

All around him, Bro. David says he saw inspiration. He watched closely as the SVD priests and brothers at his father’s parish went about their work.

“I fell in love with the way of life the religious and priests lived,” he said. “I was inspired by both the lives of priests and brothers. There was a simplicity to it, yet they were educated and highly qualified doing the mission of God as they served people. I found out that I could become an SVD missionary and serve people in other ways, like they did, and that made me excited to become a missionary and serve God using my talents and gifts.”

During his high school years, Bro. David was in contact with a vocation director. He was accepted to the postulancy immediately following his completion of twelfth grade in 2005. Later that year, he entered his postulancy in Mr. Hagen. That’s when he decided to become a religious brother. He says he recognized that he is a very practical person and wanted to use his skills to serve the people of God.

From 2006 to 2008, he studied Philosophy & Religious Studies at Catholic Theological Institute in Bomana Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. Next, he moved on to study accounting at Divine Word University from 2009 to 2010. Then from 2011 to 2012, he moved to the Philippines for novitiate and returned to complete his bachelor’s degree in accounting. He took his final vows in 2015.

Bro. David was appointed to the U.S. Southern Province and moved to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in 2017. For the past six years, he’s been working in the administration ministry. He’s also working toward his master’s degree in Business Administration with a specialty in Finance from Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Bro. David said he had to adjust to the American culture when he arrived, but he’s been grateful for the kindness he’s been shown by the people he encounters. He currently serves as the accountant to the Province and the Acting Rector of St. Augustine Residence, which serves as a home to retired Divine Word Missionaries.

“The community here at Bay St. Louis is friendly, welcoming and peaceful. We look out for one other and try as much as possible to do everything together,” he said. “We are a community of matured and understandable SVD Priests and Brothers.” 

For Bro. David, the most fulfilling aspect of being a religious brother is being in community life, meditation and prayer.

“I love my vocation and I’m happy to be an SVD,” he said. 

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