With my last paper turned in and exam taken, another school year comes to a close. Free at last! Over these past eight months, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about the Church and Scripture, acquired skills in preaching and pastoral care, and explored new visions of liturgy and prayer. When I think about to where I was in August, I’m just truly amazed at how much I didn’t know, and continue to be inspired to learn more.
But that will have to wait.
With the close of the semester and the books put away, I’m finally able to make two announcements that have been developing all year.
As I’ve mentioned too many times to count or cite, the formation process is a long one with many stages. After completing three years of school, it’s time for me to enter the final stage of formation before taking solemn vows: internship. Placed right before one petitions to take final vows (God willing, August 2017), the internship year is intended to be a time of discernment, taking a leave of absence from one’s studies to gain pastoral experience in the province as a full-time minister and to live in fraternity outside of the “safety” and structure of a formation house. As someone who is not solemnly professed or ordained, and given that it will only last one year, the experience is but a taste of what the rest of my life will be like as a friar. But it is an important and long-awaited taste.
So where will this be taking place? I’m happy to announce that I will be living and ministering at Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, NC. It’s a vibrant multi-cultural parish in one of the best places in the country (not biased!), with more things going on that I can possibly find time for. At this point, I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be doing, but there is a lot of options when it comes to adult faith formation, justice and peace work, prison ministry, elementary school help, liturgical preparation, and general pastoral work in all capacities. It is definitely an exciting place to be and I’m really looking forward to starting this stage of my life in August.
Summer Immersion experience
The reason I say in August rather than in a few weeks is because there is a second, potentially more interesting announcement to this post. On May 31 I will be traveling to Mexico with another student friar to live and work with the Franciscans for two months.
While our main task will be spending 3-4 hours a day in private tutoring sessions to become more proficient in Spanish, it will definitely be more than a language immersion experience. Living at a migrant center on the Guatemalan border, our days will be spent with people so desperate that they’re willing to travel hundreds, even thousands of miles, with little-to-no money, contacts, or place to stay, face danger of violence and abduction along the way, and be greeted with hatred and inhospitality in their new country. They are in need of sustenance, housing and medical care, for sure, but they are also in dire need of safety, respect, and someone to advocate for them. No doubt, this will be an experience like none other for me, and I hope to be able to share it through written reflections this summer and potentially a video when I return.
Until then, it’s time to pack up my things, kick my feet up, and glory in the fact that I’m done going to school for 15 months! Here’s to moving out!