Up until only recently, friars were not allowed to spend the night with family or friends outside of the friar community: when visiting home, they were required to sleep at the local rectory and commute to wherever their family lived. This, along with the vow of poverty, made it very difficult for many friars to take much needed vacations or retreats from their ministries.
It was because of this, that the province decided in the 1960s to buy a house in Margate, NJ. Centrally located to a lot of friars back then, this 13 “bedroom” house offered a free and comfortable getaway whenever anyone needed it. (I put “bedroom” in quotes because it was probably designed as a seven bedroom house, but walls were added to trade quality for quantity, and each one is probably about 6×15 ft.) Throughout the summer, and even the off-season, friars fill the house on personal vacations, community retreats, and overnight stays in place of a hotel.
What was great about this trip was that the entire community of Wilmington friars attended it. Though we’ve been living with Fr. Chris, Fr. Todd, Br. Bill, and Fr. John since August, we never really had a chance to formally get to know them. It was a great opportunity to hear their vocation stories, discuss our different experiences in the friars, possible visions we have for the future, and general ideas related to living together. Along with prayer, mass, meals, and a good amount of free time to spend on the deck and beach, it was a refreshing weekend.
Given the free time to just sit by the ocean and think, I think a few things were made a bit clearer in my mind. Over the next few days/weeks, I’d like to post my reflections on a few topics that have grabbed my attention over the past month: Gods role in suffering and why bad things happen to us, the necessity of keeping the sabbath and how difficult it can actually be for a priest/religious brother, and what it means to be a spiritual death valley or dead sea. Though we’re given a lot of time during the day for prayer and reflection, there’s just something about being at the beach and looking out at the wonder of the ocean that is so conducive for epiphanies and revelations. Hopefully I’ll be able to articulate some of the things I realized this weekend in a way that will be helpful to others. I hope you’ll check back in a day or so and see which one I’ve decided to tackle first! Thanks again for reading!
Pictures are up on the shutterfly website!