Transitioning to a New Life

I'm ready to accept a new way of life

On the eve of making the trip up to Wilmington and starting my journey into the Franciscan order, I find myself finally grasping the reality of my situation. I’ve known for a while now that I would be entering on this day, but for some reason my life has felt a bit surreal since graduation; while always knowing where I was going, it was just a blur of events and experiences since then. The gravity of the situation did not begin to set in until I started packing, and I imagine will not fully sink in until I have settled in my new home: this is a transition in my life unlike any other til now. In a lot of ways, what I’m doing next is not just the “next step” in my life; it is the acceptance of a new life. Here are a few changes that I’ve been thinking about:

This is not college. Given my age and recent experience at a University, packing a small number of belongings, moving in with people I don’t know, sharing a bathroom, taking classes, and having very little purchasing power comes with a false sense of familiarity. What I will be doing now, though resembling what I did six months ago, is a fundamentally different situation, and requires a fundamentally different approach.

I am not “mature” anymore. For an adolescent or young-adult, being called mature is a great compliment. It means that an individual makes rational choices, relates well with a variety of people, and understands one’s place in development. Essentially, being “mature” means grasping things that are not expected of one’s age. This, I feel, will be where another fundamental change occurs. Though I obviously cannot magically obtain years of life experience and all of the sudden act like an “adult” (whatever that means), the expectation is that “mature” will be the status quo rather than the exception.

My role in evangelization will change. What I mean by this is that I will be perceived differently based on my social status. Sharing my story of struggling with faith and deciding to accept a religious vocation is heard by a group of college students one way when it comes from a peer who plays sports, goes to parties, and is a part of their primary friend group, and a different way when it comes from a first year postulant that does religious things all day, even though it’s the same story. It’s kind of like an adult complimenting a child: if it’s someone else’s child, the adult comes across as unbiased and credible; when it’s their own child, it’s less interesting because any compliment is to be expected. Entering the order is accepting a status are being part of the institution, relinquishing the ability to share from the perspective of an outsider.

There is no doubt that I will encounter many more transitions, and I hope that you will all share in my journey as I face each one. We’re leaving North Carolina at 7 tomorrow, hoping to arrive in the middle of the afternoon. Thanks for all the prayers! Look for a lot of updates in the next few days!

9 Comments on “Transitioning to a New Life

  1. Prayers and good wishes for you as you take this step, brother. I’ll never forget my first day when the postulancy was at Holy Cross in the Bronx–17 July 1994. It’s a scary, delirious, and blessed journey, both inside and out. Looking forward to the encouragement of your blogging some of its graces!

    • I didn’t know you were once and Observant? I too began my Franciscan formation at Holy Cross — was sad to see it go.

  2. Dear Casey,
    I follow the Franciscans of Holy Name Province and Be a Franciscan on Facebook. I’m from Holy Angels in Little Falls, NJ (and we were a Franciscan parish until about 3 years ago). I wish you well as you continue your journey. You will be in my daily prayers. Embrace the adventure. Listen to voice of God. Love your brothers and sisters.
    Love in Christ,
    Mary Louise Helwig-Rodriguez

    • Casey, I hope you have continued your journey in Christ. If you have tried to reach Mary Louise Helwig-Rodriguez, be advised that she passed to her reward on March 14, 2012. I’m sure she will intercede for you in Heaven. Mary Louise the mother

  3. Dear Casey:

    Blessing and prayers as you start your journey to your ordination. I am from St Francis of Assisi Church in Brant Beach, NJ and a stopping off point for many in formation. Looking forward to meeting you in person some day, maybe you will be assigned here one summer as many of your fellow brothers have during their journey.

    You have accepted God’s will for you, now follow the paths that Francis so clearly laid out, and you will become the great and holy priest/friar that you desire to be.

    Yours in Christ,

    Stephanie Barrett

  4. Enjoy this time, Casey! I remember my move into the Bronx 5 July 2005 — seems like yesterday and here I am preparing for solemn vows in 5 days! Time does fly. You’ll love the Capuchin Poor Clares in Wilmington — they are the best (and holiest) ever! You are in my prayers, see you next weekend!

  5. Casey,
    God be with you. I am praying for your transition and where the Lord will take you. It doesn’t seem that long ago that you were an intern here at St. A’s. Just remember that you have an entire church community praying for you.
    God Bless.
    Mary McNIcholas

  6. Hi Casey,

    Best of luck to you! And please, continue sharing your experience … for a guy like me who’s still discerning, real-time perspectives from someone “on the inside” are an invaluable blessing indeed.

    Peace and God bless,


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