Friday, October 24th, I in a Vocation Awareness Day at Franciscan University in Steubenville. It was my first experience with this site so I had no idea what to expect. Frs. Kim and Brian, the Vocation Directors for Assumption and Holy Name Provinces, were with me as well As Fr. Jerome, a recently newly ordain priest af Assumption Province.
I have no idea how many students came through the display area, but I do know that there were between 80 and 100 Religious Communities represented. At the end of the day we celebrated the Eucharist with Bishop David Zubek of Pittsburgh. There were about 35 concelebrants and a standing-room-only crowd of Brothers, Sisters and students/faculty/staff.
One of the joys of the day was getting to see and be with three young Capuchin Friars who I know from the workshops I have given the past few years on Male Spirituality and Sexuality. Friar David (left) is a novice this year, and Friars Joe and Tom are newly Temporary Professed. The latter two are studying in Chicago.
One of the Religious Men present at the event jokingly said that the place looked like a religious-garb designers convention. All of the Religious there were in habits or, for some of the men, clerical attire.
I spent Thursday and Friday evenings at Holy Family Friary in Pittsburgh where a number of our Friars minister to the local area. I enjoyed their hospitality and the companionship with my fellow and sister Vocation Directors.
I'm in Minneapolis this morning preparing to return to Cincinnati this afternoon. Yesterday was chilly, but this morning everything was covered with FROST. That's the first frost I've seen this season. The trees up here are beautiful--lots of color and sunshine to make them brilliant.
Time to go home where it's still warm. :-)
Friar Richard Goodin, O.F.M., one of our young men in formation, writes:
Kentucky sure is a beautiful place, ain't it?
(Anyone want to guess which state Richard is from?) :-)
Fr. Jeff Scheeler, O.F.M., our Provincial Minister, writes:
You sure keep busy! But we are grateful that you are spreading the Word in so many places about the good news of being a friar! In Chicago, Louisville, Cincinnati, and in so many other places. Thanks for walking with the men interested in Franciscan life.
All the best, your brother,
Hang in there, I'm not done yet. :-) I'm off to St. Cloud and Collegeville, MN and then on to DC yet this week.
After a busy morning of workshops, we spent the afternoon on a bus tour in the hills of Kentucky. We first went to Bardstown and then on to the home of Makers Mark Bourbon. We got to see the entire production process which I found rather fascinating. It is really far more simple than I expected it to be. Actually, nature does the vast majority of it as the ingredients are distilled and fermented. We were each given a pint bottle which we dipped into the wax sealant and then got a small sample along with a bourbon candy.
From that "spirit" filled adventure we got back on the bus and drove to the Gethsemane Abbey. There for well over a hundred years men have prayed and lived their vocation in the beautiful surroundings of the Kentucky hills. While the place was busy with visitors, I could still experience the peace and calm of the place.
After spending a few quiet moments in the church, I went out into the cemetery to visit the grave of Thomas Merton. The grave is marked by a simple cross as are the graves of all of the monks buried there. The inscription on the cross refers to "Fr. Louis" since Thomas Merton's religious name was Louis.
We then returned to the hotel where I met up with Fr. Brian Smail, O.F.M., the Vocation Director from Holy Name Province, and we walked back down to the activities on fourth street for supper. I didn't run into any "devils" tonight. Tomorrow and Monday morning we will continue our conference and sharing.
A little over 400 Vocation Directors from across the country have gathered in Louisville, KY for the NRVC (National Religious Vocation Conference) Conference. The national group meets every other year for five days of input, sharing, prayer, and general support for one another. Today we were privileged to hear Fr. Donald Senior, A Passionist Priest and President of Catholic Theological Union speak of Saint Paul and the Gospels as a guide for vocation work.
Today ended with a procession from the Galt House Hotel to the Cathedral for Solemn Vespers. The procession spread over a couple of blocks at least. The Archbishop greeted us at the Cathedral where he led us in Evening Prayer. It was impressive to walk through the city in silence with police escort to control traffic and to witness to our work. The two friars pictures above are Fr. Michael and Fr. Patrick, a Conventual and a Third Order Regular Franciscan in attendance.
I am staying with Fr. Paul Scholmer, O.F.M. Conv. here in Louisville. After Vespers Paul and I didn't want to walk all the way back to the Hotel to change cloths, so we went to an English Pub in our habits for dinner. We then walked the busy streets of Louisville answering questions and explaining to people why they were seeing so many Religious in the area.
Perhaps the high point of the evening was having our pictures taken with the Devil. A young woman in a very elaborate devil costume was on the street and when she saw us she wanted to have her picture taken with us. Well, this drew quite a crowd and we had a lot of fun. We also had our picture taken with the Kentucky Colonel.
HAPPY FEAST DAY TO ALL!
As we do every October 3rd, Franciscans of all kinds gathered last evening to celebrate the Transitus or passing of Saint Francis. Here in Cincinnati, we gathered at St. Clement Church. There, in a dimly lit nave and sanctuary we listened to reading about the last days of Saint Francis' life and the simplicity of his death.
Fr. Mark Hudak, O.F.M. preached while various members of the Franciscan family (Priests, Brothers, and Sisters) read from various Franciscan sources.
(My camera does not do too well in dim light so I apologize for the poor picture of Fr. Mark. The lights came back up at the end of the service so I got a better picture of the sanctuary as seen above on the right.)
To you, Fr. Don, to your brothers and to all who read your blog: A blessed Transitus and a glorious feast of Our Seraphic Father, Francis. May his witness be, for all of us, proof-positive that it is not only possible to follow the Gospel in simplicity, it is also perfect joy!