The latest Newsletter from the Vocation Office is attached.
Have a Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
This week the Postulants from the three mid-west provinces of the Franciscans are gathered at St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati, OH for a workshop led by Fr., Stan Bir, O.F.M. of Saint John the Baptist Province. The Postulants pictured on the right are (left to right, back to front) Jose Rosario "Chayo" Arevalo of Sacred Heart Province, Clifford Hennings of St. John the Baptist, Daniel Helfrich of SJB, Galen Osby of Assumption Province, Roger Lopez of SJB, Martin Eduardo Andrade of SH, Joshua van Cleef of SJB, Michael St. Jacques of SH, and Tim Tran of SJB. (Click the picture to enlarge it.)
Fr. Stan has been profiling friars for many years and serves as Personnel Advisor for St. John the Baptist Province. Brother Tim Lamb, O.F.M. (pictured on the right with Postulant Tim Tran on the left) will be conducting the profiling sessions in the future as Stan prepares to retire. The workshop began Monday morning and will finish around noon on Friday. The Postulants are learning about their own inner personality structures as well as those of their classmates and directors. The nine pictured above will be novices together in Cedar Lake, IN next year.
Fr. Dennis Schaefer, O.F.M. Director of Postulants for the Sacred Heart Province is pictured on the left with Joshua, Chayo, and Clifford on his right and Martin and Roger on his left. Postulant Directors for St. John the Baptist Province (Fr. Carl Langenderfer, O.F.M. in green shirt and Fr. Frank Geers, O.F.M. on his left) are pictured on the right with Roger and Michael on their right and Dan and Galen on their left.
In candid shots showing serious concentration during Father Stan's presentation are Dan Helfrich of Saint John the Baptist Province and Galen Osby of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Province on the right and far right respectively. Joshua van Cleef of Saint John the Baptist Province and Chayo Arevalo of Sacred Heart Province are shown on the left.
It is good having the "gang" in our house this week. It gives us great confidence and hope for the future of our respective provinces and for the Order of Friars Minor.
First I need to make a correction. The young man climbing the wall in the post on day One is Jacob Jones, not Jacob Johnson. My apologies.
Saturday, our third and final day, opened as did Friday with prayer and song and a keynote speaker. This time we heard from Renee Bondi who gave a powerful testimony to God's providence and care throughout her life. Renee had a terrible accident two months before she was to be married and broke her neck. The paralysis that followed changed her life but led to a life of fantastic faith.
I returned last evening about 8:00 p.m. having left before the big closing Liturgy at the Nationwide arena. The Mass was scheduled from 8:30 - 10:30 p.m. and I had a two hour drive, so I came home to prepare for the Liturgy here at St. Anthony this morning. Again today there were various workshops and entertainment offered along with opportunity for the Sacrament of Penance. I heard confessions again this afternoon for a bit, but priests had been celebrating the sacrament most of the afternoon.
I find words hard to come by that adequately describe what I experienced these last three days. Being with 23,000 teenagers who are excited about their Catholic faith is in itself a moving event. When you add to that the enthusiasm and energy of the young along with their wanting to share their love for the Lord, I found them to be a walking gospel of hope. THE CHURCH AND THE CATHOLIC FAITH IS ALIVE AND WELL IN THE UNITED STATES AMONG OUR YOUNG PEOPLE. In spite of all the negative press the young are getting these days, I found much to celebrate and hope in. I came home revived and refreshed about the faith and my work as a Vocation Director. I'm don't know what else to say.
One quick final note. All of the individuals pictured and named are either over the age of eighteen or I obtained permission from appropriate adult(s) to use the photos.
The day began at the Nationwide Arena a couple of blocks from the greater Columbus Convention Center. There over 20,000 students gathered for music, prayer, and a key note presentation by Tony Melendez, the guitarist/singer who performed for Pope John Paul II in 1987. Tony was born without arms and has become a worldwide sensation. I found the opening absolutely awe inspiring. The stage fit the theme of the conference ("Discover the Way") shaped like a ship with a cross on the bow. The music and prayer were very, very well planned and executed. To experience over 20,000 young people singing and praising Jesus moved me very deeply.
About 11:00 a.m. the group moved back to the Convention Center for the rest of the day. We celebrated the Eucharist at 11:45 a.m. Then the conference moved into concurrent sessions with what seemed to be endless milling of people from room to room. The food courts, corridors, and rooms were jammed. The "Port of Discovery" (vendors, games, and vocation exhibits) was overflowing all afternoon. And, what was really impressive to me, about 25 to 30 priests, myself included, heard confessions for two to three hours nonstop.
Costuming is a big part of the conference with each diocesan group wearing something distinctive. I had my picture taken with a couple of young ladies from Minnesota who were wearing moose ears and a contingent from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati wearing flying pig hats. And then there were the " cows" from southern Indiana--not just hats but full costumes.
I have also met up with a good number of friends at the conference including many fellow Vocation Directors as well as prior students from Walsh University who are now Youth Directors at their parishes. One young man, David Schunior from the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese, and I met when I was in Houston a few months ago working a local youth conference. It is good to see them all and to re-establish connection.
Fr. Kim Studwell, O.F.M., the Vocation Director from Assumption Province, and I arrived early this morning at the Columbus Convention Center to set up our display for the National Catholic Youth Conference. Today was basically a day set aside for students from all over the country to arrive and get to meet each other. The focus for the day was at the "Port Discovery" which includes all of the vendors, the vocation displays, and the games. (The theme of the conference is "Discovering the Way.")
Our Capuchin brothers had the booth next to us and Fr. Tom Betz, O.F.M.Cap. and Fr. Kim and I did a lot of visiting during breaks. Jacob Johnson climbed the climbing wall and Curt Blase and his mom posed for a picture. Mrs. Blase is a volunteer for the conference.
Besides the fun, we heard Confessions today and then had a big Liturgy at 4:30 p.m. Tomorrow the youth get down to business with workshops, etc. Our work will be a little more focused as well.
I'm off to Columbus, OH to participate in the National Catholic Youth Conference this weekend. I went to the last one in Atlanta, GA and had a great time. Casts of thousands and lots of noise!!!
I'll try to keep this site updated as the days go by, but that will depend on availability of web access. If I do not have access, I'll try to give a report this weekend when I return.
Since I returned from my days at Lake Lorelei, I have been to Louisville, KY, Seattle, WA, and various places in Texas. Four of the Postulants joined me in Louisville for an evening geared toward promoting vocations. Then I flew to Seattle to meet with a young man, returned for a day int he office and then flew to Texas to meet with two others.
Needless to say, things have been rather busy and I apologize for not keeping the blog more up to date.
Vocation work is going well and I ask for your continued prayers for those thinking about joining us and others who might be contemplating a Religious Vocation.