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Updates from Novitiate

Ste is currently at Novitiate in Rosemead, CA, USA. Here are a few updates of his experiences of in the United States

Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

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

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Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

I imagine people have enjoyed their Christmas and New Year celebrations, at least that's what I get from all the comments and pictures on Facebook, twitter, Instagram etc - anyway, the last short update I sent was around 'thanksgiving time', end of November. Since then it has been all systems go!


From Thanksgiving to Christmas I don't actually think we stopped! From decorating to vocation drives, to classes to 'apostolate', a very busy time - plus I had to do the thing I dislike the most in all the world.... Christmas Shopping! Of course, as most know, I'm one of them that leaves it all to the last minute, yes, I went shopping Christmas Eve! You think shopping at home is bad? Try shopping in America! During this time I had my first international visitor, David O'Malley came over to spend some time with us - he gave a number of fantastic workshops and reflections on the preventive system. His visit was a great breath of fresh air for me and the other novices were really grateful to get his insights on religious and Salesian life.

Within our schools all the young people were under enormous pressure as they were completing their end of semester finals - I'm sure you can imagine when the bell rang to the start of the break, our young people shot through those doors like cats chasing mice!

For the Christmas season, we celebrated Midnight Mass with families of the area at 8pm, then as a Community we unveiled our 'secret Santa's' after which of course we welcomed Jesus into the world the only way we could...Karaoke! It's become our year's fun thing to do! So that took us well on in to the night.



Christmas day was very special - after speaking to my family and friends, we welcomed to the house all of the SDB's that live here in the south of California for our 'family' Christmas Meal. What a great experience that was, all of us coming together to celebrate! I know Kevin in his house in the north, Don Bosco Hall, did something similar. As you can imagine, Christmas was quite hard for us novices, as for most of us, this year was the first time we'd spend the holidays away from family and friends but thankfully the SDB's out here really made us all feel a part of the family.

Once the cleaning was finished our holidays started! Boxing Day we took the 6 hour drive up north to Berkeley and San Francisco; whilst there we visited all the Salesian places including the Provincial house and the first Salesian house ever in the States. A great trip that has really refreshed us and got us ready for the next semester of study and continued discernment.

We are now in our second week back, normality has set in and the 'project of life' in firmly in my hands as I study it day in and day out! Its full steam ahead now to February when we'll be seeing Martin Coyle and the other 4 Provincials as they gather together to discuss our progress and next steps! Fun!

Happy Feast of Don Bosco to you all when it comes.

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Posted by on in Updates from Novitiate

So, it's been over a month since I last wrote. Time has certainly flown by! It only feels like yesterday that the novitiate started but yet we are already a quarter the way through, which is actually very scary to think about!


The last time I wrote, we were preparing to head up north for effectively our half term break, though actually out here they don't get half terms like us, instead they have 'mid-terms' which I thought was just an American way of saying half term but it's not, they actually spend the week doing tests! Examinations! Practical and theory! They seem to work hard out here, however saying that, the schools seem to have a lot of days off and half days, so really those days must add up to a half term, would you not agree?

Anyway our visit to the north, the purpose of the visit was 3 fold; 1. To give us novices a little break from studies 2. To go on a small pilgrimage around the Californian coast line missions 3. To see the site of Camp St. Francis and the Watsonville Community.

Let's start with point 1. We needed time off, my goodness; doing the same things over and over each day can really drive an extroverted soul up the wall. (Hey I know, believe it or not I am extroverted!, well I'm on the border [this make me sound ill; I'm not ill]) anyhow, yes so we needed the break.

2. The missions pilgrimage; in short on our way up and then back down the coastline we stopped at a number of missions; the missions were founded predominately by Fr Serra, a Franciscan priest to help the faithful receive an education in the faith, a decent knowledge of life etc. a lot of them are still active parish communities. To see a few of them 1 or 2 was quite nice, get a feeling of the culture back then, see how the poor and less fortunate lived and so on. The only problem is, as the missions were mainly founded by the same guy, they all pretty much looked the same, so by the 8th mission, those of us that don't appreciate culture as much as others got extremely bored! You got it in one, I got so bored!

3. Camp St. Francis! For those of you that have been there I'm sure you'll understand when I say WOW! What a place, it's on top of a hill that leads down directly to the beach! Great place! So that was our trip up north in a nutshell.

Once arriving back at the novitiate, we, of course were thrown in to the deep end with a 3 day workshop on Fides et Ratio (faith and reason) written by JPII on religious life and Evangelii Gaudium (Joy of the Gospel) written by Pope Francis - to be honest, it was worth it. Two great documents written by two amazing leaders of the faith! The month of November has just since then worked its way to an end. We have continued with our; studies, apostolate, faith growth and all that good holy stuff novices are meant to do! We have been extremely lucky - normally a novitiate community may get a visit from one of the general council (big bosses in Rome) MAY GET being the big words here, however we have pushed the boat out and have had two general Councillors visit us, within the space of a week! Fr Guillermo Basanes SDB Councillor for the Missions and Fr Tim Ploch SDB Councillor for the Inter-American region both made a pit stop on their journeys back to Rome for the December meetings. A privilege to meet both of them, especially Fr Tim who was previously the Provincial of USA West, the province we are in!


Also within this month, I have had the honour of being a part of the retreat team, guiding 172 young people through a day retreat! My Lord, that was amazing! The young people just seemed to really enjoy the day and really took an interesting in what they were being asked to do! Amazing, great guys! I also got the chance to be a part of the vocations team for an event of sharing - these events happen all over the place out here, the religious and diocesan clergy are not afraid to ask young people, ''is God calling you?'' - in the UK I think we need to learn from the Americans on this one especially at this time as we celebrate the Bicentenary of our father and teacher AND the year of Consecrated life! We need to stand up and say, yes we live a great life; yes we love God; yes, sometimes it's hard; no we will never give up! Food for thought maybe... can you tell I'm in discernment! Things seem to become so clear but at a click of your fingers your mind is blown to pieces! IT'S GREAT!

Anyway, I think I've taken up at lot of space here! Sorry Jonny, sorry Bob :P

Just a last thought, tomorrow, today, yesterday, last Thursday (really depends when this gets put out and you read it!) we celebrate, celebrated etc Thanksgiving a holiday out here were everyone stops... gathers together... and gives thanks. It's actually a really beautiful concept, stopping... Coming together.... Giving thanks

Thank you for your continued support through prayers for me and my brothers out here

Thank you for everything you do for the Salesians

Thanks you for being you

Thank you

Peace and love


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