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Learning to Say Goodbye

We formed some great relationships at the Jeanne Jugan residence this year.

Today was our last day volunteering at the Jeanne Jugan Residence. After more than seven months of Bingo, room visits, word games, Bible study, and the like, our time came to a close with a farewell “Berry Special Sendoff” (named for the strawberry pound cake that was served). A number of sisters, staff members, and residents came to the microphone to say some kind words, and we had the chance to walk around to all of the tables to say goodbye to the men and women that we had gotten to know so well. The whole day was quite touching, and great way to end.

As I look back on the year and wonder what effect Dennis and I may have had on the residents, I come to realize that this has been just as fulfilling and revelatory for me as it has been for them. Here are two of the things that I found helpful for my future in ministry.

I will grow to love ANY ministry 

Back in September when we were assigned ministry locations, I wasn’t exactly thrilled with the prospect of working at a nursing home. Though I was open to the idea, and by no means fought it or showed any disappointment, there was certainly a part of me that wished for something else. Ugh… a nursing home?

What I came to realize was that, even though I wasn’t a part of some newsworthy effort to radically “save the world,” this ministry effected the lives of a number of individuals in a profound way, making it just as worthwhile as anything I could have done. Like the story of the person throwing back starfish into the water despite the impossibility of saving all of them, I realized that “I made a difference to that one!” and that is all that matters!

There’s no doubt that I’ll be placed in ministries throughout my life that are not my “ideal” choices. After having this experience I now know that it doesn’t matter. Every place I go there are going to extraordinary things to be done, incredible people to meet, and discoveries to be made about myself. In the end, if it’s God working through me, who am I to decide where that should and shouldn’t go? Because of this, I think it will be very difficult not to love every ministry as my own after only a short time.

No ministry is mine

This gradual love for each ministry can, however, lead to a different problem: the inability to give it up later. Transitions like the one we made today will more or less dominate the rest of our lives. As transient preachers, Franciscan friars rarely stay in one place forever. Whether it’s three, six, nine, or even twelve years, we all know that our ministry assignments will probably never be permanent, and that at some point we’ll be asked to pack up and move on.

In this way, it can be difficult to realize that no ministry is mine. More than likely a ministry existed before I got there, and most definitely will there be people left behind doing work after I leave. As attached as we may get to a particular place, ministry, or group of people, we must remember that our vocation was not to work in that specific circumstance alone; we were called to spread the Gospel wherever it needs spreading.

As I found out today, this second point is much harder than the first. Just because we live a transient lifestyle does not mean that we do not engage in deeply connected relationships; all it means is that we must cope with letting these connections go shortly after they’re developed. The important thing to remember in all this is that, no matter how difficult it may be to leave a beloved ministry now, there will always be another one prepared for us by God just up ahead. Today, I may have learned how to say goodbye to people I have come to care for greatly, but tomorrow I will begin to say hello once more to the new possibilities that this life has to offer. What a beautiful thing this is, the life of a friar.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Formation

 

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We Are The Future

This past weekend, all of friars in pre-Novitiate, Novitiate, and post-Novitiate formation, as well as the formaters and a member of the Provincial Counsel of Holy Name Province, had a grand get together at the Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Marriottsville, MD. Known as the “Formation Intersession Program,” this three day meeting is a yearly tradition of our province that seems to fulfill three main goals: 1) To allow for fellowship and interaction between the men in formation, 2) to teach the men in formation something related to Franciscan theology beneficial for spiritual and communal growth, and 3) to inform new members of the happenings of the province, both financially and statistically, in a sort of “State of the Province” address. Overall, the weekend was excellent at fulfilling each of these goals, and with the exception of the food poisoning I got Friday night, everything went really well! (Dont worry, it wasn’t that bad and I’m completely fine now!)

Getting to know our new brothers. Unlike many of the workshops we’ve attended thus far, there was actually more “free time” on this one than anything else. With most of our afternoons and nights free, we had plenty of time to chat, go out to eat, and even watch a movie on the projector one afternoon. Given that the majority of us have had at least one common formation director or formation house, we all hit it off almost immediately because a lot of our experiences (as well as a few misfortunes!) were common among everyone. Add to it a group of very humorous, brotherly, guys, and you get a weekend long laugh-fest of stories, jeers, and rivalries fit for the friars.

Besides simply having a good time, there was a serious purpose for bringing us together: we are the future of the order. Turn the calendar ahead 20-25 years and this group of men will be very core of the province, running ministries and dictating the vision for its future. As a postulant, this can no doubt be an overwhelming responsibility to focus on right now. But at the same time, I think we all realize that its a reality in our future, and it’s comforting to know that we’ll have such a strong group of men along for the ride.

Franciscan spirituality of the Trinity. What does it mean to believe in a triune God? More times that not, do we even distinguish between the three, or do we simply think of God as a homogenous, ambiguous “being”? Such a theology would not Franciscan (or even Christian for that matter). Though being of one essence, God has revealed Godself through history and scripture as three distinct beings, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Call me dense, but until this weekend, I had never put two and two together to realize that since each one is in its own ways distinct, so too should our relationship to each person be unique: God is Father, God is brother, and God is spouse. Each requires a different approach, thus yielding a different experience of the divine.

The “mystery” that leads from this is pretty obvious: how does one God exist in three persons while still being only one God? One way of trying to explain it is the ice, water, and vapor analogy I used in my post, “I think of it like a…”: same chemical, three different forms, all of which can exist simultaneously. But from a “Franciscan” perspective, the question itself is posed wrongly: rather than how can one God exist in three persons, someone like St. Bonaventure would ask how can three persons be one? Some will say it’s the same question, but there are different implications to both. The former, starting with one and splitting into three, must focus on the existence of God, how God is, so as to understand how God can be split in three; the latter, focusing rather on three being one, must focus on the relationship of God, how the three distinct persons must be in relationship with one another in order to be one. The relationship between the three leads one to see the self-communicating love that exists with God, leading to the statement, God is good.

The “State of the Province” address. Much like the yearly State of the Union address given by the President of the United States, were given two lectures on Saturday related to the financial and personnel situations our province was facing. Obviously these sections were a bit dry with information (and obviously quite private to non-friars, so I’ll be vague), but they were also very helpful for looking at the future. It’s not a secret that the world is changing, and with it, religious life as well. There are going to be different problems our generation will face than the ones before us did, and it’s great foresight of those in leadership today to prepare us for them as early as possible. There was nothing revealed in either lecture that was a complete surprise, nor was there anything that made me develop much anxiety about the future. Altogether, it was great to be left in the loop and to have the opportunity to ask questions and begin brainstorming with other future leaders.

Given the fact that the food poisoning was a bit unexpected, I didn’t get to take a lot of the pictures I had wanted to. Also, given the internet struggles lately, it’s been difficult to even load a picture for the title of the post, but we’re working on fixing the problem soon!

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Formation

 

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Preparing For Novitiate

Talk about a full house!

Although our primary focus for being in Wisconsin last week was an interprovincial Postulancy workshop on sexuality, we enjoyed the added bonus of visiting the Novitiate house and meeting the Novices. We weren’t given a ton of free time throughout the week, but enough that we were able to hear from the Novices about their year so far, share meals with them and the Novice masters, experience their prayer style, and get familiarized with the house and grounds.

By the end of the week, I understood why the three stages of initial formation are called pre-Novitiate, Novitiate, and post-Novitiate: the Novitiate experience is clearly the center and frame of reference for the whole process. The Postulancy year, thus, is not just a waiting or trial period, it has the crucial objective of preparing men for the intense community and prayer life of the Novitiate.

So, what exactly do they do in the Novitiate, and are we being prepared well enough?

To oversimplify the concept, the Novitiate is a year of prayer, work, study, and community, in preparation for simple vows at the end of the year. The Novices in Wisconsin pray together four times a day, have class for two hours in the morning, do chores for two hours in the afternoon, and take turns cooking meals with and for each other before being allowed two hours of free time in the evenings. They are not allowed cell-phones, credit cards, or use of the internet, they’re not allowed to travel more than 15 miles away from the house, and there is a grand silence that begins at 9:30pm each night. It is through these extreme measures that the Novices are encouraged to take great steps in their prayer and community lives, freeing them from the many distractions of the outside world to focus more attentively on those things that are at the center of our lives.

And while this is necessary for a life as a friar, this lifestyle would be too much of a shock for most people right out of the gate. What would the retention rate be like if men left their old lives one day and showed up to this one on the next? Even as someone who is quite affirmed in his vocation, I would have struggled with the transition. Thus, Postulancy.

Having now seen the life of a Novice, everything (except the traveling) that we do makes perfect sense to me now, and I see that the Postulants of Holy Name Province will be as prepared as any for next year. We pray everyday as a community either twice or three times, emphasizing the importance of prayer but doing so in a bit more casual of a way; we attend class twice a week on basic Franciscan studies, preparing us not only in content but also in structure; our weekly group meetings, both as a whole house and as the formation group, keep us in touch with the needs and attitudes of the others, helping us to find our role in community; having set meals seven days a week has enforced a sense of responsibility and community; and our lack of freedom, whether it be in time off, ability to leave, use of technology during the day, limited stipends, or chores, has been taken slowly as to help the adjustment process. Taken together, the year is a stepping stone for the next, an introduction and preparation to the rigors that lie ahead.

In all reality, the hardest thing about next year will be that which we cannot prepare: living in a house with 24 other men. Because it’s an interprovincial Novitiate, we’ll be sharing the experience with at least six other provinces, having completed seven different postulant years, with seven different levels of preparedness, and 25 different personalities. I’m not sure if anything can fully prepare someone for that type of experience. Until that day comes, I look forward to living in the moment of each day as a Postulant, while always remembering what that moment is for: preparing for the Novitiate.

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2011 in Formation

 

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Ecological Justice

You'd never see a sight like this where the rich live, would you?

When Catholics speak about “justice,” we tend to think about things such as the fair treatment of workers, peace, living wages, freedom from enslavement, etc. The images that come to mind are almost exclusively economic and peace related. For many, ecological justice is a secondary concern.

Attending the RFC Philadelphia region workshop today, we were convinced otherwise. Led by Sister Maria DiBello, RSM, and attended by about 30 men and women in religious formation, the workshop was in part a viewing of a documentary by the Pachamama Alliance called “Awakening the Dreamer.” After watching the documentary and listening to her lecture, it’s impossible to see how ecological justice could ever be overlooked.

One of the reasons that it deserves as much attention as the other forms us justice is that it is intimately related to the well-being of humanity and the protection of the poor. For instance, at one point, a woman on the documentary said something to the effect of, “What does it mean to throw something away? There’s no such thing as away. All we’re doing is displacing our waste to another place.” That place is almost always the home of the poor and oppressed. Pollution in the First World causes the destruction of vital resources for the already poverty-stricken Third World, dangerous water and living conditions, and leaves them highly susceptible to erratic fluctuations in climate. Lack of ecological justice, in the form of overconsumption and waste, hurts more than just the polar bears; it directly effects humanity. For a specific example, take a look at the effect of plastic water bottles.

Though the majority of the day was a reiteration of material I studied in college, I found it all to be a great reminder of the great responsibility we have to protect all of God’s creation, and how our mistreatment of it hurts us more than we think. Often times we find ourselves in the First World becoming complacent and entirely ignorant of the world around us. The truth is, what we do effects others in the world around us. When we look at the dire state of our planet in the long run, as well as the horrific effects it is causing in the present day, we can begin to see the “justice” that is needed in the world.

 
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Posted by on October 15, 2011 in Formation, Justice, Workshop

 

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Adopting a Few New “Habits”

The postulancy is a year for trying on a new way of life

“The Franciscans have been wearing the same thing for 800 years, and in no way is it out of style. From the latin word habitus meaning “to put on a new way of life,” the habit is an outward symbol of an inward commitment. I will not receive one until my second year, and will not have the three knots until I take my initial vows the following year.” Sound familiar? It should! It’s been on the right side of the screen under the brown habit since I launched this blog!

I think it’s a great idea on the part of the order to a have a preparatory year such as this in which we do not receive the habit because it allows us to discern our own inward commitments a bit more before we show the world in such a physical way. This, however, doesn’t mean that we as postulants can’t begin “to put on a new way of life,” expressing the beginnings of our inward commitment by adopting personal “habits” so to speak. Here are a few of the lifestyle changes that I’ve made so far this year that I feel are both a representation of my commitment and an aid to strengthen it.

Early to bed, early to rise: It’s been a very difficult discipline, but I’ve been in bed by 11:00 almost every single night, and up by 7:00 every single morning. For those who don’t think that’s hard, remember that I’m 22, and just 6 months ago I was on the 1:30am-9:30am sleep cycle. The first week of transitioning was awful, but I’ve been okay with it since.

No more dryer for me: In an attempt to lower my carbon footprint and better respect God’s creation, I’ve decided to air-dry all of my clothes. It takes about ten extra minutes of work to hang all of them on a drying rack than than to throw them in dryer, but there is absolutely no energy used in the process. It also means that my clothes, in theory, will last longer, requiring me to buy new things less often.

Praying multiple times a day, every day: As a community, we pray in the morning at 7:30, in the evening at 5:15, and at night at 9:00. Though this isn’t exactly an optional habit to get into, it still requires an appropriate mindset for each: I could simply show up to each, or I could take a few minutes before and after the set times to prepare and reflect. I’m certainly working towards the latter, and it’s one of the best habits I’ve adopted.

Reading the Bible everyday: As a typical Catholic growing up, I didn’t read the Bible often, and the extent of my knowledge came from the readings at mass. Given that it has a couple thousand pages, it would be easy enough to label it an overwhelming task and never read any of it. But if I commit to reading a chapter or two every day, 3-6 pages a day turns into more than a thousand pages in a year. I can commit to three pages a day! So far I’ve read the Gospel of Luke, most of John, and the commentaries for both.

Clean and simple room: For those of you who know me well, this may be the most shocking habit I’m attempting to adopt. I have made my bed every day, I fold and put away clothes immediately, and I’ve put papers and books back where they go rather than letting them stack up. As I said in A Rush To Slow Down, my room is my sacred space, and part of keeping it sacred is keeping it clean. So far so good, but we’ll have to see once the year starts getting a little busier!

Obviously there are a lot more things that have changed in my life since last year, but I thought that these were the most significant. I hope that adopting these new habits with great joy will help me discern my commitment to following St. Francis’ way of following Jesus.

I won’t be able to post again until Tuesday night at the earliest as we’re heading off to the beach for a community retreat. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll check back Tuesday or Wednesday!

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2011 in Formation, Postulancy

 

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It’s Off to Work We Go

Father Ron took this picture of us yesterday

Yesterday our lives as postulants got busy. After a month of a sort of “grace period, (but of course, all periods with the friars are graced…) we were let loose from the house, sent forth into the world to minister. Three days a week, Edgardo will meet with the Legion of Mary where he will be visiting the sick and bringing communion to the housebound parishioners; Ramon and Sergio will drive up to Philadelphia to work at the St. Francis Inn where they will be serving the poor directly; and Dennis and I will be going to a nursing home in Newark to visit the sick and elderly.

Unlike most nursing homes, Jeanne Jugan Residence is a warm, inviting place where almost all of its residents are happy to be there, and there is a waiting list of a few years to be admitted. Run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a religious order of women devoted to the sick and elderly, this home offers a dignity and respect to each of its residents that I have never seen before: there are two full-time entertainment coordinators that run games and events every day, the residents are visited on a daily basis by the sisters, the food is honestly very good, and the facilities feel more like a big comfortable home than a drafty hospital. The sisters that run the home actually take a forth vow (along with poverty, chastity, and obedience) of hospitality, vowing to never let anyone feel unwelcome or lonely, caring for those especially on their deathbed. Besides serving those who can no longer serve themselves, the sisters have a whole wing of the building set aside as apartments for more active and independent people, free to come and go as they please.

All in all, pretty boring job right? Listen to old folks ramble on about the “good ol’ days” and about how “kids these days” are ruining society, right? Yesterday, I played a card game called Tri-Virsity with three sassy women that had me on my toes and laughing the whole time (who also beat me), got a chance to go to mass, ate ribs with the residents living in the apartments, played host to a number of game shows such as “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?” then rounded out the day by getting my butt kicked in Wii bowling by someone three times my age (seriously, I bowled a 223 and this old lady beat me by more than 20 pins!)

Because there’s such a range in activity levels, I’m excited to run a bible study for some, but also be a pair of ears for the lonely ones who never get visitors; play competitive card games, but also push someone’s wheelchair outside so they can get fresh air; listen to some tell me about how I’m “exactly like my grandson” or “perfect for my granddaughter” but also talk without response to others so they know someone’s with them.

For Dennis and I, work looks a bit more like leisure: we play games, we sit and talk, and we enjoy a meal together. But in the end, even though it may not be very “difficult” to do what we’re doing, does it make it any less significant for the person to which we’re ministering? If we want to uphold the dignity of all human life and foster the authentic development of all human life, I think it’s equally as important to play Wii with a lonely old woman as it is to give bread to a hungry young man. Don’t you? When I look at it this way, and realize that God needs help in many different ways, it’s pretty easy to just let go, take a vow of obedience, and minister wherever it is I’m told to go… even if that place is a nursing home.

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2011 in Postulancy

 

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Español con Capuchinas

(It means

As some of you may know, my spanish is pretty abysmal. I took the required three courses while at Furman, and passed with an A-, B, and C respectively (but not all that respectably). As if it wasn’t poor enough “in my prime,” it’s been more than a year since I’ve tried to speak it. So… yeah… I don’t speak Spanish.

That’s all about to change! Our province believes that it is very important that all of it’s members have a basic understanding of the language and be able to at least communicate on the lowest level with the Hispanics we serve. Throughout our formation, we will be encouraged to “perfect” our speaking ability through classes, leading up to a trip to Bolivia in a few years. But before that happens, there is a lot to be learned, which brings me to tonight: our first class. The original plan was to enroll in a community college course and to learn the language very formally; that’s what they’ve done in years past, and it has worked out okay. But with the larger group this year, the large difference in experience levels, and the possibility of missing classes due to travel, there is a new plan: class with the Mexican sisters down the street.

Tonight was the first try at the new experiment. The four non-native speakers spent an hour and a half sitting around a kitchen table casually trying to communicate with Sister Delores and one another, fumbling over words and, I’m sure, saying things we didn’t mean to say. Luckily for us, Sister Delores is a very understanding and funny woman, and was patient with each of us, using a mix of English and Spanish to get through the conversation. All in all, it was actually a really fun time and I think it was a great environment to learn. I look forward to meeting with her each week, and God willing, becoming a bit more proficient in the language. (Well, maybe God can’t do everything…)

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2011 in Postulancy

 

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A Day Off… kind of

I didn't even have to fake being sick!

As I said in Far From Routine, we have a “plan” for each week; whether or not we stick to it is a completely different story. Part of this plan is that Saturdays and Sundays are left as free as possible, requiring us to attend mass, prayer, and meals, but allowing us the freedom to do whatever we need to relax and recharge. Since we’ve been either traveling or in workshops each weekend since we arrived, today became “kind of” one of those free days. We started with prayer and mass this morning, but don’t have any responsibilities until evening prayer, dinner, and a movie about Francis later tonight.

Which leaves me with a million dollar question: what should I do with my day “off”? At the risk of scheduling my whole day with work, I’d like to take advantage of the rare freedom to get some things done that I’ve been putting off.

As if I were still in school, there is a tower of reading (both personal and assigned) that I would like to catch up on. This includes: Where is God by Jon Sobrino, a reflection on the earthquake that hit El Salvador in 2001 and an incredible work in theodicy; Francis of Assisi- The Saint- Volume 1, a compilation of the early documents written by or about Francis, including the famous biography by Thomas of Celano; Lumen Gentium and Gaudium et Spes, two of the most critical documents that came out of the Second Vatican Council, and documents that I’ve skimmed before but would like to read in full; and always, The New American Bible, something that I would like to make time for every day.

Remembering that I’m not still in school, I will not, however, be spending the whole day catching up on reading, no matter how high the stack gets. I’ve just heard from one of the postulants that we’ve finally found the key to the giant bell tower at our church, and we will be exploring that later. I will of course be bringing my camera, and hopefully there’s a great view from the city worth posting! I’d also like to do a bit of exploring of the city, possibly even having lunch downtown somewhere. Wilmington is small, and despite what our neighborhood looks like, the downtown is kind of nice.

At some point during the day I will have to do a bit of real work, as indicated in the “kind of” part of the title. Each of us has a set of chores that need to be completed each week, and given our busy schedules, there’s not a whole lot of time to do them except on our day off. I’m in charge of the second floor hallway, the recreation room and bathroom, and the staircases. It’ll be a bit of work, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to (or feel like) finishing it all today, but they’ll get done. I think it’s an important part of community for each of us to share a significant portion of the work, no matter how new or old, qualified or unqualified.

Last but certainly not least, I would like to set aside part of my day for intentional prayer and reflection. Even in religious community, it can be easy to check prayer off the list each day (or to even skip it) and move on quickly to the next thing. There are a list of topics that I have been paying particularly close attention to, and I would like some more time to pray about them. Check back later tonight to see which one I chose to focus on!

And with that, it’s time to get off the computer and start enjoying my day! Have a great day and thanks for reading!

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Postulancy

 

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New Community at the Castle

Mount Saint Alphonsus was built in 1907 as a seminary

Given the history and nature of religious orders in the United States, the majority of the communities spread across the country are either headquartered or have distinct roots in the northeast. Thus, one of the advantages of having our formation process in this area is that there are numerous groups of men and women at the same stage of formation as we are here in Wilmington, allowing for us to form a larger network of support and overall growth.

For example, this weekend we attended a workshop organized by the Religious Formation Conference (RFC) in Esophus, NY. About 20-30 men and women (ranging in experience from 2 days to 3 years in formation) spent the weekend learning about different prayers, discussing our experiences in small groups, practicing each prayer in private, and getting to know the groups and individuals represented on a personal level.

The workshop portion of the weekend, and by that I mean the organized activities, was a bit broad and lacked the depth that I was expecting (if I can be completely honest). The speaker was obviously experienced in each of these prayers, and had a lot to offer. The problem was that she tried to fit a lot of different types of prayers into a day and a half rather than focusing on just one prayer and giving it a lot of attention. Part of it is certainly the limitation of the group: because it is made up of a wide range of experience levels, and because each religious order has different expectations for their formation students, there needs to be a broader, one-size-fits-all atmosphere in order to include everyone.

This is not to say that I was disappointed in the experience; far from it! What was missing in the organized activities was more than made up in private conversations, fellowship at meals, new relationships, and my own personal broadening of “vocation.” In talking about our religious calls, our vocation processes, the struggles we were facing, and our visions for the future, I found myself taking part in the “catholic” aspect of our church: though unified in our call from God and mission to uphold the life of the Church, we went about expressing each of these in entirely different ways. I was fascinated beyond imagination to hear about the different spiritualities, how each group was coping with a changing world, the vision of the founder, and their day-to-day lives.

In hearing each of them speak, I was also more than reaffirmed of my own Franciscan spirituality, the order I am joining, the way we do things and the way we don’t do other things. There is certainly a reason why people join one group over another! As we go to these workshops throughout the year, I have no intention of switching groups or changing spiritualities; but I do hope that in building these relationships I may be able to enrich my faith with new ideas, as well as to enrich others’ with a Franciscan way of looking at something.

Given the title I chose for this post, I couldn’t close without saying a world about the retreat house. WOW! Just look at it. It’s enormous! It was built in 1907 by Redemptorist Congregation as a seminary for its aspiring priests. I’ve added my own pictures to the shutterfly page, and you can learn more about it’s history here. We’re going back in November, so look forward to pictures of the place surrounded by fall leaves!

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Formation, Trips, Workshop

 

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Meet My Classmates

From left to right, Sergio, Dennis, Edgardo, Ramon, and Me

One of the great things about the formation process is that no one has to do it alone. As I move on from place to place, going from Postulancy to Novitiate to Post-Novitiate, the group of guys that entered at the same time as I did will do the same. There is a sense of comfort in this sort of community, and some friars describe the relationship they have with their classmates as an intimate bond.

On the other hand, there is only one year, the Postulant year, that I will be with only my classmates: the Novitiate year is inter-provincial (all of the second year students in the country come together for the year), and the Post-Novitiate takes place at Holy Name college where all students years 3-7 living together, including a large number of foreign friars wishing to study in America. Essentially, one’s immediate classmates can be a great source of strength and comfort throughout the process, but if you don’t get along with them it’s not the end of the world.

That being said, I think I lucked out with mine. Starting with the largest class in 5-6 years, each of these guys come with a true desire to be a follower of Francis, and offer a uniquely different perspective on life.

Sergio was born and raised in the New York/New Jersey area, but his parents were from Naples, Italy. He joined the Navy after high school and spent 5 years working on a Destroyer ship. After a long journey of faith, he found himself studying, then teaching philosophy, eventually connecting with the friars while getting his M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in NYC.

Dennis is a Rhode Island native and thought about religious life at a young age. As he explored alternative options for his life in college, he became very passionate about Chemistry, and received both a Bachelors and Masters in the field. His earlier life interest in religious life didn’t go away, and as a chemistry professor over the last few years he felt called once more.

Edgardo grew up in Costa Rico, and is a native Spanish speaker. Over the years, he has studied French and English in foreign countries, began a life with the Franciscans in Mexico, taught philosophy and Catechetics at home in Costa Rico, and at one point was on a track to become a diocesan priest there. He comes to our Province because of it’s diversity in ministry.

Rounding out our world tour of Postulants, Ramon spent most of his life in the Philippines, having come to New York only 5 years ago. Since that time, he’s gotten a higher education degree in teaching and taught high school English in New York City where he was the creator and advisor of a student magazine about social justice. As you can see in the picture, he likes photography as well, which is a plus.

I feel very blessed to have a group of guys such as this, and believe that they will all have a profound effect on my faith journey.

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2011 in Fraternity, Postulancy

 

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