Confidence in the United States Postal System was somewhat restored last Monday when the habits made by Sister Maria de Jesus and mailed to the novitiate at Santa Ynez on July 11 finally arrived on August 9. Obviously, as you can see from the picture, Brothers
Donald and Brandon were overjoyed. At the investiture ceremony on July 24, the friars of the Western American (California) Province found habits that "sort of" fit the Mid-America novices. Donald even wore his to the beach when the novices had an outing to one of the beaches about forty minutes from the novitiate. The novices enjoyed a day of swimming and lounging on the beach. I was assured that no one saw any sharks although dolphins were spotted swimming and diving just off shore.
It was my privilege to give the twenty-two novices their first Recollection Day of this novitiate year. The three conferences centered on contemplative prayer and
dealt with the practicalities of praying contemplatively in the midst of distractions. The Recollection Day coincided with the liturgical Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr. Remembering St. Lawrence gave me the opportunity to speak about the necessity of disengaging from the world, protecting the treasures of the Church (it's teachings as well as the people we serve), and the need for a sense of humor. I will always remember our Father Thomas More telling me that no man should be accepted into our way of life if he cannot laugh. The deacon Lawrence never lost his sense of humor even under torture. The day ended with Solemn Evening Prayer and benediction and a celebration of Brother Jerry's birthday. Brother Jerry Jones is one of the team members. The other team members are our own Frank Grinko who is the novice master and guardian, Gerard O'Dempsey from Australia, and Bobby Barbato from the Western America Province.
Father James Boner, Provincial Minister from Great Britain, arrived after the Recollection Day was over and was planning to stay a day or two to visit with the novice from his province. Father James and I crossed paths twice in the past four years, both times in Papua New Guinea.
But the big news for the Mid-America Novices was that they now wore official "Mid-America Habits," with hooks and all.
Cesar Arras, postulant in Mid-America, made the side rosaries for Donald and Brandon. I carried those with me to San Lorenzo Friary and left the replacement habits back in Denver, where they are tucked away in a closet in the Poor Clares' sewing room.
Congratulations, again, Donald and Brandon! Have a great year. We'll pray for you. Pray for us, too!