Friars and their families
After severe heat and haziness and then two days of rain, the weather in Peoria finally broke just this morning. On my way out of town to return to Cincinnati I drove to Grandview Drive and got a couple of shots of the Illinois River. The far shore is Tazwell County while the near shore is Peoria.
As I was driving home and thinking about the fantastic week I had with my family, I remembered how often I am asked by prospectives as well as their families about how we friars relate with our families. Do we ever get home to see them? Are we allowed to travel to family events like weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc.? Do we get a vacation?
The simple answer is "yes." We keep in close contact with our families and take time to visit with them on vacation and on special occasions. The only year when that is less true is the year of novitiate which is the most intense year of training in the sequence of the formation process. Actually, I think I could safely say that in some ways we remain closer to our families than do our married brothers and sisters because we do not have our own family. In that sense we always belong to our family of origin, although the Franciscan community does become our new home and primary source of support and relationships. I could also say that we get home probably as frequently as do some of our married siblings--taking into consideration the distances that we and they sometimes experience due to our assignments and their jobs.
This week I enjoyed the company of my two sisters and their families. My oldest nephew stopped by to see me while he was in town on business and a niece called from St. Louis to say "hi." Of course, some of my nieces and nephews are raising their own families now and I have a new great niece due in November. I have had my one sister's wedding (my other sister married before I was ordained so I couldn't have hers) as well as all of the next generation of weddings with a couple of more still possible. I have also gotten home for a number of First Communions and done a few baptisms. So we definitely keep in close contact with our families and support them with our presence, our prayers, and our affections.