The Lord has risen, Alleluia Alleluia- Easter is my favourite time of year!
Hi all, hope all is well in the motherland. It's been a good few months since my last update, things have been busy here! From Bi-centennial celebrations, to province training/workshops, to vocation events, to school events, to archdiocesan events, madness has hit the novitiate!
Im going to try and keep this as short as possible, so I may miss some points but I can tell you about them when I come home. First thing I should probably mention is Fr Martin's visit - oh sorry it was an official visit so, the visit of the Fr Provincial! Joking aside it was an amazing breath of fresh air to have a fellow kingsman in the house (side note, kingsman, great film- go see it, so too is Fast and Furious 7- go see it, oh and American sniper!) Anyway, sorry Martin, seriously it was great to have him here telling us about the growth of the province and the updates for the summer celebrations, all sounds very exciting, I'm really gutted that I'm going to miss most things! We also had a good catch up, the guys here were shocked at how well myself and Martin get on- I told them in our province we respect each other for who we are not what we are- titles can be very important in certain parts of the world- actually even in our own country! We forget that behind the title there is a child of God who deserves more respect than any title! It was also great fun to have Fr Michael Casey (Irish provincial), he was a great laugh!
Once they left we started preparing ourselves for the LA religious education congress! What an amazing production. If you have never been I strongly recommend going. It is a really powerful, thought provoking celebration of Religious Education worldwide! The Salesians this year took over a section of the market space- Salesian stickers and Don Bosco faces were everywhere- Br Al Vu and his team really know how to get a show rocking! The LA congress brought me another gift- Gerry O'Shaughnessy came over! Again it was great to see him and have a good number of catch ups- talking about the Promised Land that is Bootle! Not forgetting one of the most beautiful Salesian parishes in the world (of course im biased) - St James'. A quick note to thank publicly all those that sent gifts through Gerry, you really shouldn't have, but thank you none the less.
A few other events that have happened are:
Helping to lead retreats at the centre here
Provincial leadership meeting- hosted in our community
A number of vocation talks
A media workshop given by Fr John Roche- director of Don Bosco hall, Berkley where Kevin O'Donnell is at the moment.
Camp St. Francis assignments and planning meeting and so on
As you can tell during our time here in the Novitiate, I have had a number of life changing experiences; having the courage to say yes and be here is one, two trips to San Francisco, visiting a number of the Serra Missions on the coast line of the state, partaking in retreats, workshops, province events etc but nothing will compare to the unforgettable time we've just had in Tijuana, Mexico.
Sitting down to write this reflection has been hard; so many say, ''why is it hard, you sit and reflect all day anyway?'' However those that have been to Tijuana, have experienced the gifts so willingly given by the people there who do not have much, but all they do have they give, will fully understand where I'm coming from. My word for the week was Surrender, two reasons why;
Firstly - very practical - we had no idea what was happening! JC (Missions delegate) didn't tell us anything- the situation was very simple, when I know and you need to know, I'll tell you! Now for a person like me who knows things in advance, the idea of not having a clue what was going on should have killed me. It didn't - this is where the second reasoning behind my word comes in. It didn't kill me because we were being guarded by an overwhelming sense of peace therefore we didn't need to know exactly what was going on, the Holy Spirit took care of it. To be in Tijuana was a gift, however, to be in Tijuana during Holy week - no words can describe. As followers of Christ, holy week is the most painful but also most joyful week in our whole calendar - we celebrate the gift of family through our Eucharistic feast - we are filled with pain and suffering from the death of our brother - we mourn - then we praise and rejoice as our family is once again complete! I got to experience this great sense of YES during this Holy week in this beautiful place.
To be with the people of the Salesian places, young and old- SDB and lay gave me a rounded understanding of who I am, and what I am to do. My vocation is simple - to love. Tijuana has given me so much more than I could ever give for that I am sincerely thankful.
So that's it, for now - a number of months compiled into this brief note. This past week we have had the chance to settle during the spring break, we are entering into the final stages really - at the moment we are in the process of writing our evaluations of each other for the spring term, but more importantly we are in the very crucial stage of discernment as on May 24th - the feast of our Lady Help of Christians - we are due to hand in our letters of acceptance to profession. So please, continue to keep myself and all my brother novices and candidates (aspirants) in your prayers.
Love and prayers to all
The Lord has truly risen- Alleluia