Friar Don Miller. OFM
I am a Franciscan priest. I spent my early years of ministry in New Mexico working among the Pueblo Native Americans and the Hispanics. In 1978 I began my years in academics working as a chaplain, faculty member, and administrator at various universities in the southwest and the midwest. I taught various course in theology, especially in my area of specialty which is moral theology. I have been the Vocation Director for the Province of Saint John the Baptist since 2003.
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A Christmas Wish

Creche  Merry Christmas



And then it got better--and a Christmas Reflection

After the Friday adventure, my trip home yesterday was pretty uneventful. All I had to contend with was an hour delay leaving Dallas on the second leg of the trip and some cold. The weather here in Cincinnati had drastically changed since Friday. When I left it was 65 degrees. Last night it was 3 degrees.

You might remember that in the second last post (Stranded in KC) I mentioned a couple with two small boys. The eldest had just turned two and the younger was just barely sitting up on his own. I talked with the parents as the night wore on and was very impressed with their patience and care for the boys. The father is going to school and they were traveling home to be with family for Christmas.

Since meeting them, I have been thinking about the Holy Family and their travel. Traveling with small children is not easy and inevitably raises some anxiety in the hearts of parents. Will we be safe? How will the little ones handle the trip? Did we pack everything we will need? Etc. Watching the love this couple had for each other and the tender care they gave their boys filled me with appreciation for this family. What a neat thing to witness just a few days before Christmas. Let's pray for all families as we continue preparing for Christmas. May the Holy Family bless them with love and peace.

And it got worse

At the end of the last post I said that I was kind of enjoying the situation. Well, it got worse. The plane that was suppose to fly us to Salt Lake City was stranded in Salt Lake City and arrived in Kansas City at 7:45 instead of 4:40.

I had been there since 2:20 and found that the way the airport was remodelled after 9/11 makes it impossible to do anything without having to leave security and reenter to get to the gates. All of the waiting areas are behind security so every time you go to get something to eat or use the restroom you have to exit and reenter security. The gang of us stranded there began to watch each others' luggage as we moved about in and out of security. Well, security decided that we were in violation of the law and threatened to take our luggage because we had left it "unattended." Let me just say that members of the group clealy stated what security could do with their law under these circumstances. Eventually, things settled down, security adapted to the situation, and we finally boarded our plane at about 8:30.

As we left Kansas City the pilot announced that we would have to take on extra fuel because we had a 200 mile per hour headwind. That meant that four passangers had to get off. Once we on the way we settled in for the ride only to be told as we neared Salt Lake City that the one and only open runway was closed due to an emergency landing which was blocking it. (We found out late that no one was injured but not too sure what happened.) The pilot continued to tell us that we were in a holding pattern but that we also did not have enough fuel to wait as long as SLC officials said that we would have to. So, we diverted to Grand Junction, CO to get more fuel. As we neared Grnad Junction we were again told that, because a bunch of other pilots were doing the same thing, we would have to be in a holding pattern until it was our time to land. We had enough fuel but the winds made the wait very, very bumpy.

Finally,we landed in Grand Junction, refueled, and got to SLC at 12:30 a.m. Mountain Time (2:30 a.m. Cincinnati time). By the time I got through the airport the rental car places were closed so I called the motel shuttle which took over 45 minutes to arrive. I arrived at the motel a little after 2:00 a.m. and got to bed about 3:00 a.m. which is 5:00 a.m. Cincinnati time. I had gotten up Friday morning at 5:15 a.m. so I had put in a 24 hour day.

Oh, the joys of travel!!!!

Stranded in KC

Oh joy!!!! I'm in the Kansas City airport this evening stranded due to snow storms elsewhere. So far they are still saying that we are going out tonight, but . . . .

By the way, this is NOT a good airport in which to spend five to six extra hours. :-(

But there is a couple here with two small children. The boys are doing very well and the parents are staying very composed. Watching them makes me put my situation into perspective.

(Actually I'm kind of having fun visiting with people.)

Trip to Atlanta

Friday I drove to Atlanta, GA to visit a prospective who had contacted our province. As I drove south on I-75 into southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee I was treated to a winter wonderland. The roads were clear and dry, but everyth else was snow covered. Every tree branch, every weed, every structure was shining white with new snow. For miles I was treated with a fairyland of sparkling white. "Ice and snow, bless the Lord."

Saturday I interviewed Joshua and arranged to meet with him latter in the afternoon for Eucharist, supper and a presentation of Handel's Messiah. He had told me that he was in the choir but little did I know that the concert was presented by the parish choir and that Joshua had the tenor lead and solo. I was very much impressed with the quality of the concert. Holy Trinity Parish in Peachtree City, GA has a fantastic choir, organist, and choir director.

That same night I ran into two men whom I had previously interviewed. One is a young man, Jonathan, who has decided to join the Benedictines in Collegeville. He is a friend of Joshua's and attended the concert. We had a pleasant visit prior to the presentation and I am happy with the the enthusiasm he has for his upcoming life as a monk. He will enter in just a few weeks.

But the real surprise was running into a young man and his family with whom I had visited back in 2005. Beau has discerned that the Lord is not calling him to the Religious Life and has decided to study to be an air traffic controller. His father is a pilot for Delta Airlines. It was great seeing him and his family. Joshua and I had just walked into theNarthex of the church as the second evening Mass was letting out and I looked up and there was the family. What a pleasant surprise.

So I joked with the friars with whom I live that I drove to Atlanta this weekend to attend a Handel concert and visit old friends. Hey, it was only an eight hour drive. :-)

P.S. The interview went well and Joshua should be with us for the next Come and See weekend.

Stan comments on Friar Richard's comment

Stan writes:

I agree with Friar Richard! Whatever happens in the lives of these men, the friars have had an impact and have somehow brought these men to look at how God is moving in their lives.

If any of us can be a catalyst in motivating others to look at their lives and discern what God wants, it is a wonderful thing.

I know God will give you many brothers ... and through your brotherhood, will call men and women to embrace the Gospel more fully outside of vows.

How wonderful is all that?!

A Comment from Friar Richard

Friar Richard Goodin, O.F.M. writes a comment to the post concerning vocational inquiries:

That's great news Fr. Don.  Regardless of the outcome-if these men join up or not-it is great that they are opening up to the possibility!

More Travel

Francis Brown In the five and one half years that I have served as the Directorof Vocations for our Franciscan Province of Saint John the Baptist, I have never done as much traveling and visited more prospectives than I have this fall. I have been to Saint Cloud and Collegeville, MN; Leesburg, VA; Oxford, OH; Pittsburgh, PA; Pinconning, MI; Dallas, TX; Parkersburg, WV; and Nashville, TN besides visiting men in my office here in Cincinnati. I have three more trips scheduled before the end of the year and have asked another friar to help with a visit in northern Illinois. And these are visits to the men who have expressed some interest in joining us. I have been in contact with many others who are not yet that far into the discernment process.

What does all of this mean? I have no idea except that more young men have expressed an interest in Religious Life in the last few months than in any other previous time period of equal length. I truly believe that we are witnessing a change in vocational patterns. Is it a momentary event or a trend? Only time will tell. But right now I thank the Holy Spirit for the inspirations that have been given and received.