Yesterday and today were the work days. Sr. Ilia completed a fantastic presentation this morning. She offered some very inspiring insights into our Franciscan theology and spirituality. She has written a number of books and I would highly recommend them to you.
Yesterday afternoon we had "level" meetings. That means that the Vocation Directors got together, and the Postulant Directors, etc. There are ten Vocation Directors here from three countries. It was good to share notes and support one another in our ministry.
Fr. Leslie Hoppe, O.F.M. is the Provincial Minister of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Province and the liaison between the various Provincial Minsters and this initial formation conference. He was with us and is pictured above on the left.
I'm used to getting up early at home, so with the two hour time difference, I woke up here at St. Malo Retreat Center in Allenspark, CO very early--before sunrise. So I went out on the little porch outside my room and watched nature come alive.
It was cold here this morning, but invigorating. I watched the birds fly around feeding and the St. Bernard pup play in the yard with whatever he could find to romp with. It was a beautiful beginning to our first day at this Formators' Workshop. Later today we will hear Sr. Ilia Delio, O.S.F. speak and then take some time to go up into the mountains above. We are already at 8700 feet. So we will be getting into some thin air.
Monday, July 28, I will be flying to Denver, CO and then driving up into the mountains about one and a half hours to St. Malo Retreat Center in Allenspark, CO. I will be attending the English Speaking Conference Formation Meeting. I did the same a couple of years ago and look forward to returning--both for the location and the meeting.
The gathering is for all of the friars who work in formation from all of the English Speaking provinces in the world. That means the Directors of Vocations, Postulancy, Novitiate, Temporary Professed and Ongoing Formation as well as the Provincial Prefects of Formation are invited. It is a good opportunity to meet with the men of other provinces and share ideas, concerns, etc. in the context of prayer and study. Sr. Ilia Delio, O.S.F. will be our main speaker for the week.
The pictures are from our meeting a couple of years ago. I hope to be able to post new ones during the week, but I'm not sure if I will be able.
Please remember all of us in your prayers as we travel and meet.
I flew to Houston, TX on Tuesday, July 9 intending to visit with three or four prospectives and to attend the Galveston-Houston Archdiocesan Youth Conference. I got there Tuesday afternoon and stayed with Fr. Page Polk, O.F.M., the Director of the Houston Medical Centers' Chaplains Corp. Wednesday morning I headed off for Bryon and Irving where I enjoyed two very pleasant interviews/visits with young men thinking of possibly joining us. After spending the night in Dallas, I drove on to Austin for another pleasant visit and back to Houston.
Friday afternoon I drove to the Greenspoint Hilton for the Youth Conference where I met many young people on fire with their faith. I also made a few contacts with young men thinking about our way of life.
Saturday I drove to Galveston to celebrate the Eucharist and to visit with our friars stationed at Saint Patrick Church. Fr. John Bok, O.F.M. and I concelebrated the evening Mass and then Fr. John Paul Flajole, O.F.M. and I went out for dinner.
Sunday I returned my rental car and went to Hobby Airport for a 12:23 flight back to Cincinnati via Atlanta. The fun started when the flight was delayed three times due to terrible weather in Atlanta. Actually, the early flight that had left for Atlanta returned because the airport there was closed. About 3:30 p.m. I heard the announcement that my flight was canceled.
Then the fun started. Long lines which resulted in an early morning flight out from Bush International airport Monday morning. Then another long line to get my checked bag back--I hardly ever check baggage but I did Sunday. By that time I needed to return to the car rental place to rent another car and to find a motel near the airport. Then a call comes that I had be rescheduled on a later flight leaving at 10:55 a.m.
Right now I am at IAH awaiting the time to board the direct flight back to Cincinnati--I hope.
It was a good week in the Lone Star State. Vocations there are plentiful it seems. (Of course, Clifford Hennings, O.F.M., one of our novices, is from Richmond, TX.) I pray for the young men contemplating our lifestyle and ask the Lord to bless us with good vocations.
In the context of Evening Prayer, our two new Postulants were formally received into the formation program by our Provincial Minister, Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, O.F.M. On the right, Kevin Janke prepares before the service begins with Fr. Dan Kroger, Bro. Micheal Dubek, and Fr. Kenan Freson behind.
On the left, Fr. Jeffrey blesses the Tau Crosses which he then presented to each of the Postulants. On the right, Michael Charron receives the Tau Cross as a symbol of his desire to begin living the Franciscan life.
Kevin and Michael will spend one year at our St. Anthony Friary in Cincinnati learning to live our life. At the end of the year they will move on to Cedar Lake, IN to begin their year in the Novitiate.
With the reception of Kevin and Michael, our number of men in formation is nine.
The annual 4th of July Friars' Picnic was scheduled for Saint Anthony Friary in Cincinnati this afternoon, but mother nature didn't seem to know about it. I woke up this morning to chilly, rainy weather. Shortly after noon it looked like the sub might break through, but we had no such luck. For much of the time, we gathered in the garage made famous by the "Graduation" party held for the Postulants last May. (http://vocationvibes.franciscan.org/2008/05/index.html)
Again, Fr. Kenan did the honors at the grill (seen above on the right). The new postulants (Kevin Janke on left and Michael Charron on the right in the picture to the left) were introduced to some of the Cincinnati-area friars. In the picture on the right are some of the satisfied friars just after we ate. All of the traditional activities associated with the day had to be canceled due to the inclement weather.
Oh well, we enjoyed one another's company even if the weather didn't feel like July 4.