The most recent Vocation Office Newsletter is attached. Just click below. It is in pdf format.
Happy Holy Week.
"God gave me brothers..." literally! Congratulations to the new men and to the friars who will getting their new brothers! Be assured of my prayers for all of you, postulents-to-be i tutti fratelli!
Dan, their classmate accepted for Postulancy last January, writes:
Congratulations guys! See you in July :)
Saturday, March 24, the Admissions Board of Saint John the Baptist Province approved three more men for the Postulancy Class of 2007. They are (on the far left) Tim Tran (25) from Apple Valley, MN; (on the near left) Roger Lopez (28) from Pensacola, FL; and (on the right) Joshua van Cleef (22) from Detroit, MI.
Tim presently works for Workflowone where he handles shipping. He has an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Minnesota. Roger is presently a Senior Retail Sales Rep for T-Mobile, USA. Joshua will graduate from the Virginia Military Institute in May with an undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in philosophy.
These three will join Clifford Hennings and Daniel Helfrich who were accepted for the Postulancy Program at the Admissions Board in January. (See http://vocationvibes.franciscan.org/2007/01/index.html)
We welcome Josh, Tim, and Roger to the Class of 2007.
March 20-23, 17 Friars gathered at the Moye Center at St. Ann Convent in Melbourne, KY for a meeting. (St. Ann Convent was where some scenes in the movie Rain Man were filmed.)All are involved in some level of Initial Formation; for example, Vocation Director, Postulancy Director, etc. The purpose of our annual meeting is to gather the Directors of the three co-operating Midwest provinces (Sacred Heart, Assumption, and Saint John the Baptist) for discussion of common issues as well as fraternal support. We usually spend some time on our own continuing formation and then address the business at hand. This year, 17 friars participated; five each from Sacred Heart and Assumption Provinces, one from Our Lady of Guadalupe, and six from Saint John the Baptist.
This year our continuing formation speaker was Dr. Lief Noll, the psychologist who assesses our men prior to entry into our Postulancy Program. Wednesday morning, Dr. Noll presented the findings of an intercommunity study he has recently conducted looking for benchmarks to guide him in determining which men are most prepared to face Religious Formation. In the afternoon he lead us through some exercises looking at the issues we face personally as formation/vocation directors as well as the issues we find prominent in those men preparing to be Franciscans. That evening we relaxed and watched Rain Man.
Thursday was business day. In the morning we each met with our cohorts to discuss common issues at each level of formation. In the afternoon we had a general meeting to discuss some issues pertinent to our interprovincial formation efforts. That evening Saint Francis Seraph Friary hosted the group to a social after we toured Saint Anthony Messenger Press and the Ministries of St. Francis Seraph Parish.
These meetings are always good for building community and sharing ideas. We also look into possible ways to improve the formation programs for our new members.
I can't agree more, lent seems to be passing very fast. I'm also loving the daily reflections booklet.
I have to admit that when I look at what has been going on in the Vocation Office and the Postulancy Program there hasn't been a great deal to write about. Life goes on day by day without a whole lot of fanfare. I've offered a couple of Lenten thoughts to this blog over the past few weeks, but not much by way of "news." The biggest thing I've done the past few weeks--outside of daily working in my office--is drive to Michigan to visit with two college students; one an undergrad in Ypsilanti and the other a grad student in Ann Arbor. I enjoyed both visits and look forward to continuing discerning with both of these men.
But, by the end of this week I will have some news to offer. Tuesday through Friday I will be attending the Interprovincial Initial Formation Conference being held in Melbourne, KY. What, you may ask is that? It is a gathering of the Vocation Directors, Postulancy Directors, Novice Directors, Temporary Professed Directors, and the Secretaries of Formation of the three midwest Franciscan provinces: Sacred Heart Province based in St. Louis, MO; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province based in Milwaukee, WI; and our own Saint John the Baptist Province based here in Cincinnati, OH. We will meet at St. Ann Conference Center in Melbourne, KY--the place where the movie The Rain Man was filmed. I don't know whether or not I'll have internet access there, so I may have to wait until I get home to offer any report.
Then, next Saturday, March 24, three men will go before the Admissions Board. As you may remember, that Board approved two men back in January. They will be Postulants this coming year. (http://vocationvibes.franciscan.org/2007/01/index.html) It turns out that those two will be the eldest and youngest of next year's class. The "middle" age group is up for approval this coming Saturday. I definitely will be posting a story about them right after the Board meeting.
So please remember the Formation gathering and the Admissions Board meeting in your prayers this week.
Someone mentioned this blog in a conversation yesterday and I suddenly realized that I haven't posted anything since last Sunday. Then this morning I was sitting in church waiting for Mass to begin and the announcement was made that "This is the third Sunday of Lent." OK, some I'm losing track of time. What am I doing with it?
Every Lent (and Advent for that matter) I firmly promise myself that I am going to take the time to prepare properly for Easter (and Christmas). Then the season arrives and I'm usually caught off guard because I am not ready. I haven't been paying much attention to how close we were. So, a few days into the season I am finally a bit more focused and ready to make this a great, profitable time. Then the daily demands of life, work, etc. take over and the season slips by without the kind of attention and focus that I had planned and wanted.
This season I am using a daily meditation booklet published by Liguori Press entitled Daybreaks: Daily Reflections for lent and Easter Week. It features reflections by Fr. Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I. (I sent copies of this to the guys in the Vocation Office data bank.) Rolheiser has a wonderful ability to bring things down to the nitty-gritty and show how we find God in the everyday activities and events of life. God became flesh and lived among us--and still does! What this has helped me realize (one of my more conscious thoughts during this morning's Eucharist) is that Lent isn't about what I planned to do, but with living the Gospel more fully each day in the situation I find myself in.
How many times have I heard that? How many times have I preached that? Yet this morning it sunk in in a significantly new way. So what have I been doing during the first two and a half weeks of Lent? What have I done since I last posted on this blog a week ago? I've been living my life as a Vocation Director and as the Chair of a province committee and as a friar in St. Anthony Friary and that is exactly what I should be doing during Lent. Only I should be doing it with a little more awareness each day of how the Lord is calling me to do the things that I do.
I should be living my life more Christ-like and repenting the times that I do not. That is my Lenten project--not the things I wanted to do, but living the life God gives me in a truly Gospel fashion. I wonder what this insight will have me do for the rest of Lent?
The postulants will be getting away for a few weeks of vacation between their time in Postulancy and the beginning of Novitiate. Richard Goodin wants to do some camping and hiking along the Appalachian trail for a few of those vacation days, so he bought a kit including a tent and sleeping quilt. They are advertised to be very serviceable and extremely light weight. But, the items need to be cut out, sewn, and constructed. So Richard has been busy during his spare time learning how to run the sewing machine and how to use a needle. Friday night I took pictures of him threading and tying pieces of yarn through the quilt so that the insulation doesn't bunch inside the nylon casing.
Richard has also taken on the tasks of feeding the birds and the deer on our property. The squirrels are managing to play havoc with his bird feeders.
Life in the friary is interesting to say the least.
This morning as I listened to the First Reading being proclaimed at our Chapel Mass, I couldn't help but think of Queen Esther's situation and St. Francis' notion of sine proprio. His notion of what???
Interestingly enough, the Rule that St. Francis wrote for the Friars Minor does not mention poverty as one of the vows. It lists chastity and obedience and sine proprio, a Latin phrase that means without appropriating anything as one's own. So often we associate St. Francis with living a radical version of poverty, but poverty wasn't his goal. Poverty was a means, a tool to a greater goal--total dependence on God. That is what his life was all about, letting go of every possession and depending totally on God. And what are possessions but appropriations, things we claim as our own and hang on to as though we need them.
What has this got to do with Queen Esther from today's scriptural reading? The reading relates Esther's prayer of dependence on God as she prepares to go before the king to plead for her people's safety. She is not thinking of her own well-being or safety, but that of her people. She is dis-possessed of selfish concern and ready to sacrifice her life if need be so that her people might be saved from slaughter. She did not possess even her own life; she was sine proprio.
What am I (are you) hanging onto that stands in the way of my total dependence on God? Physical possessions? Reputation? Fame? Position? Sin?