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
Peace and love