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I returned from Canterbury, England last Monday and have been trying to re-establish some sense of order in the Vocation Office. I'm making significant headway, but . . . . Anyway, while I was away two significant events took place in our provincial formation programs. The first was Friar Tom Olsen, O.F.M. made his first Profession of Temporary Vows at the Novitiate in Cedar Lake, IN on June 15. At that time, Tom received a cord with knots. Since the knots represent our vows, the novices wear a habit with a cord without knots. They receive a knotted cord when they make their profession of vows. Our Provincial Minister, Fr. Fred Link, O.F.M., was there to receive Tom's Profession. Pictured on the left are Fr. Fred receiving Tom's profession with Fr. Ed Tlucek, O.F.M. in the middle and Fr. Dennet Jung, O.F.M. on the right. Frs. Ed and Dennet are the Directors of Novices. Fr. Ed is a member of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province and Fr. Dennet is a member of our Saint John the Baptist Province. Cedar Lake is the site of our interprovincial novitiate which serves Assumption, St. John the Baptist, and Sacred Heart Provinces.
The second big events was that Dennis Geib and Richard Goodin returned from a brief vacation on June 23 to pack their belongings to head for their novitiate year which began on June 25. On the left, Richard packs the van while Dennis and Fr. Frank Geers, O.F.M. assist. Fr. Frank is our Associate Director of Postulants. On the right, Frs. Dennet (left) and Fr. Ed (second from right), the Directors of Novices, pose with Richard and Dennis, our new novices. On the left, Dennis poses in his new room and Richard (on the right) does likewise. (It appears that Richard got the corner room with two windows.)
Fr. Carl Langenderfer, O.F.M., our Director of Postulants, attended Tom's Profession and drove Richard and Dennis to Cedar Lake. He graciously offered to share with us all of the photos in this post. Tomorrow and Sunday our five new postulants will arrive here at St. Anthony in Cincinnati. These are busy days for the formation programs of our province.
Canterbury continues to hold its charm even after coming back here and spending another
month. Each time I walk to the bus line and see the city spread out at the foot of the hill with the majestic cathedral as its highlight, I am moved by the beauty and history of this place. (The picture on the left is of the newer part of the city which still has a rather medieval look while the picture on the right is of the front entrance of the Canterbury Cathedral.) For more pictures of the enchanting city see this blog May and June of last year.: http://vocationvibes.franciscan.org/2006/05/index.html and http://vocationvibes.franciscan.org/2006/06/index.html.
This year I did more traveling around England itself and found much beauty to enjoy. The magnificent
architecture that I found in London, exemplified in the House of Parliament in London pictured on the right, and the scenery and buildings in Dover, Deal, and Durham all made the time and effort of travel worthwhile. (See the posts from the past few weeks for further photos of this year's travel.) Of course, the ease of train travel in this country makes getting around so much more enjoyable.
But the real gift of both visits to Canterbury is the Franciscan International Study Centre itself. I have posted a number of reflections about the variety of people and cultures represented in this place. We all speak English but with many, many accents, and some do far it more fluently than others. We are also all tied into Franciscanism in one way or another. These facts have been brought home to me again the last few days as the students leave for foreign lands. Franciscans all heading back to their native lands or palaces of mission having benefited from the experience here of study and personal sharing. It is a privilege to have been a tiny part of their lives and the working of this place.
I fly back to Cincinnati tomorrow (Monday, June 25th); the day that Richard Goodin and Dennis Geib and Christopher Leigh will be received at Cedar Lake, IN as members of the new novitiate class of Friars. My prayers go with them and all of the students of FISC--they really have a great deal in common as developing Franciscans.
Last evening the Conventual Friars hosted a Saint Anthony Day party for the community here at the Centre and some friends from the wider community. It was both an occasion to celebrate a great saint of the Franciscan movement, but also to say "Farewell" to one of the Conventual Franciscans who has been assigned to a local parish in Rye. At the left is Antony Jukes, a member of the English Franciscan province, who is about to make his final profession of vows. Antony is one of the Level III student I have this semester. On the right, Antony is joined by his classmate Alvydas and others in song. Alvydas is a Franciscan from Lithuania who is also preparing to make his final vows later this summer.
Two distinguished participants at the gathering were Fathers Ninian and Pasquale. Fr. Ninian is a member of the English Franciscans and Fr. Pasquale is an Italian Capuchin. I caught them conversing over a glass of wine and a sandwich and thought that the picture captures more than two friars sitting on a bench. While the two belong to different branches of the Franciscan First Order and have spent their lives as friars in different countries, yet there is much that they have in common as followers of Saint Francis. Their venerable ages and their wisdom stemming from their years of living the life are an inspiration to all of us here at the Franciscan International Study Centre.
I've stayed close to home this weekend. Academics tied me down as I marked term papers and prepared for my classes this week. I also did some mundane activities like cooking and doing laundry. We actually had a dry, sunny day yesterday which makes doing the laundry much easier. There are no dryers so things need to be either hung outside (on a line where they dry in a few hours) or on a make-shift line in one's room (where it takes a couple of days). So far this year I've been able to use the outdoors. Thank God.
One of my students told me that a Chinese Friar studying here has some home-made movies of his friary in China. Since he and I live in the same dorm we were able to get together last night and look at the pictures. But more importantly, I had a chance to watch him as we viewed the movies and to listen to him talk about the brotherhood back home. I went to my room very moved by his love for his home community and his excitement about sharing his life with me. This friar has been solemnly professed for four years and ordained for three. He is a young man just getting started in life and is filled with hope and enthusiasm for our way of life and the Church. The life of the friars in China is not easy, but it is obvious that they share close bonds among themselves and truly live a faith-filled life.
The thought also crossed my mind that while we are from two very, very different cultures and generations, we share a common faith and a common life as members of the Order of Friars Minor. We wear the same habit and celebrate the same sacramental life, but we live in very different conditions (due to both cultural and governmental situations). Our diets differ and many of our customs vary, but it was good to see pictures and movies of the friars praying, working, studying, recreating (the younger friars like basketball and ping-pong), and celebrating the Feast of Saint Francis much as we do--and did when I was a young friar. Formation and Franciscan life seem to have similarities all over the word.
In a couple of weeks, each of us will return to our respective friaries (both under the patronage of Saint Anthony, by the way) and resume our community and ministerial lives. But I will return with a new awareness of what it is that I have given my life to--a world-wide movement that is committed to living the Gospel of Jesus according to the vision of Saint Francis of Assisi. How that medieval Italian mystic has captured the hearts of people all over the world. Because of him, a young man from China and I can call each other "brother" and truly mean it.
I had every intention of posting every other day at least while here, but my schedule has been rather hectic. I arrived late in the term and this has put a lot of pressure on the students and myself to complete our work in very few days. So I have been putting in some long days basically rewriting my courses. The marriage/sexuality course is the new one this year and I am having to do a lot of reading and note taking to adapt things as we go. I have not been able to present it as I had planned.
But the international and intercultural life here at the Centre continues to inspire me. We have students from all over the world and from every conceivable Franciscan community--many that I have never heard of. Just among the men we have Capuchins, Conventuals and OFMs from America, England, Ethiopia, Philippines. China, Lithuania, Italy, Croatia, Zambia, and more. It is so good to be with brothers who share my vision of life and yet come from another part of the world from cultures I know little about. Franciscan brothers and sisters all.
Maybe this weekend I will get some more local pictures. I cannot go too far because I have to mark (grade) term papers. Four of the friars I am teaching are due to graduate with their BA degree and we need to get their work completed.
Awesome, my prayers are out to these two during the summer.
Today Dennis Geib and Richard Goodin complete their Postulancy Program and begin a
well deserved break with their families before entering the Novitiate on June 24.
Richard and Dennis arrived at Saint Anthony Friary, Cincinnati, Ohio in early July 2006 to begin their year of training. For the past eleven months they have lived with the Professed Friars praying and sharing in our Religious Life. While they had their own daily program of instruction and training, they became an integral part of the life of the friary.
Our prayers go with them as the take a break and then begin their first year as Friars Minor.
This morning I caught the bus near the Centre and bought a. Explorer Pass for £5. I was
able to use it as many times and on as many buses as I wanted all day as long as I stayed in Kent. So I headed off to Dover on Bus #15. When I got there I found that getting to the cliffs would be impossible today so I climbed up to the castle (yes, I actually walked all the way up there). It is a medieval fortress that was also used by the British during more modern times. It is a very impressive
location, but the castle itself is not unlike others here in England.
When I got back into town I had some time before I could reboard a #15 for Deal, so I
visited St. Mary Church. It is a beautiful church in the typical British style. I got there just as they were closing it to visitors, so the gentleman who let my in anyway suggested that I might want to make a "small" donation to the upkeep of the building. Which, of course, I did.
Then I caught the #13 for Deal which proved to be a rather disappointing stop. About all I could do is walk
out the pier and take some pictures of the city that has built up along the shore of the English Channel. The location of the bus stop was such that I really couldn't get into the city without knowing where I was going. So I stopped in a pub and had a pint of ale and then walked the pier. As I returned I decided I actually was also hungry so I stopped at a little coffee shop and bought a scone with jam.
Then it was time to board the #13 again for Sandwich. This turned out to be a very historic city
that has played a major role in English history. It used to have a dock in the 17th century which made it a port from the mainland, but today it is inland. Old Saint Peter church is no longer in use, but it is an historical building that is undergoing repair. The bus stop in Sandwich afforded me a little more opportunity to wander around before catching the #14
back to Canterbury.
As I arrived at the castle above Dover, I was walking with four young people who offered
to take a picture of me. So, here is yours truly just outside the gate to Dove Castle. Also, as I was walking back through Dover toward the bus station, a sea gull on a chimney caught my eye. The style chimney is how I picture the homes in Dickens' novels. The multi -flu chimney is seen frequently and the sea gull perched on top just spoke "England" to me; so I took the picture on the right.
All in all it was a good, but tiring, day.