It sometimes seems that all I do is go to meetings, but I really do work in the office and travel to visit prospectives as well. But, I am off to another meeting. This one is for the Vocation Directors of Region VI of the NRVC. What that means is the Vocation Directors of all male and female Religious Orders and Congregations in the Ohio-Michigan region. We meet twice annually for a little input and planning. We also enjoy one another's support in our common efforts for the Church.
Our group is very active. We meet at the Maria Stein Retreat Center in middle Ohio in the heart of Mercer County which is know as a very strong Catholic, farming area and home of the Precious Blood Priests, Brothers and Sisters. This afternoon and tomorrow morning we will share our "best practices," plan for our part in the National NRVC Convocation which will be in CLeveland next year, and listen to Sr. Helena Burns, a Daughter of St. Paul, on the use of media and social networking. (I've heard Sister before and she is very good. Because of her insights I have been on FaceBook for the last year or more.)
"NRVC," by the way, is "National Religious Vocation Conference" of which I have been a member since I arrived in the Vocation Office over six years ago.
Twenty Friars representing five Franciscan Orders gathered at the beautiful Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, AZ. The temperature has been hot but very pleasant. Getting up in the morning and walking the grounds as the sun comes up over the mountains is certainly conducive to prayer. The Center is operated by the Franciscans of Santa Barbara Province.
Dr. Jay Hammond from Saint Louis University is our main presenter this week. He has been working on a project to digitalized photos of the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi so that the frescoes can be viewed and studied. He explained the theology behind the frescoes; something about which many of us were unfamiliar. He is also working at on a project whereby the major Franciscan sources will be available in digital form on the web for research purposes. Dr. Hammond is a lay Franciscan theologian, one of many gracing our Franciscan world.
Besides learning from Dr. Hammond, the conference gives us a chance to meet new vocation directors and to renew friendships with those who have been in the ministry for a while. We get together every other year and share notes, learn, and support one another. I know that I look forward to these gatherings and come home refreshed.
Monday, September 14, 21 Franciscan Vocation Directors will meet in Scottsdale, AZ at the Franciscan Renewal Center. We meet every other year and rotate the responsibility for the gathering among the membership. This year the OFMs are responsible and, as Chair of that group, I got to organize this meeting with the help of a couple of other Friars.
The membership of this Mega Conference, as we call it, is the Vocation Directors of the various mens Franciscan Orders. That is us, the Franciscans, along with the Conventual Franciscans, the Capuchin Franciscans, The Third Order Regulars, and the Society of Atonement. They come from all of the English speaking countries, although the vast majority are from here in the USA.
The Franciscan Renewal Center is operated by the Santa Barbara Franciscans and has a history of serving the southwest as a center for prayer, peace, and justice.
Bev Helfrich, Mother of Friar Dan Helfrich, comments on the Come and See weekend:
Hi Fr. Don....wow, 7 for the Come and See weekend! That is wonderful. I was very happy to know Dan and Cliff would be there too. I am enjoying following my friar on his journey and look forward to a Chicago trip soon! Hello to everyone at St. Anthony's. Peace & Love. Bev
Six of the seven men who joined us for a Come and See weekend are pictured on the left. They are (left to right) Brad Cypher of Leesburg, VA; Dan Bircher of Harrisburg, PA; and Kyle Huber of Lancaster, OH in the back row. In the front (left to right) are Eric Seguin of Ottawa, ON; Jason Dymek of Providence, RI; and Brandon Elliott of Elwood, IN.
The seven men joined us Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Helping with the program this time were Friars Daniel Helfrich, O.F.M. and Clifford Hennings, O.F.M., newly professed Friars from our house of studies in Chicago, IL.The two Friars and our three Postulants mentored the prospectives through a weekend of looking into life as a Franciscans.
God has truly blessed our province with a good number of great prospectives.
Tomorrow evening, Friday, September 4, eight young men will join us for a Come and See weekend. This is the first weekend of the new academic year; the first of five scheduled weekends.
The Lord is blessing us with some good prospectives. Please pray for their discernment.