Dear Brothers, Sisters, and friends all:
Last month I wrote about some of the changes taking place in our Capuchin Province of Mid-America. One of those “changes” was the location of our administrative offices. We are now moved into those offices at 3613 Wyandot. Some files still have to be moved, and the prayer room needs some attention yet, and there are a few unfinished furniture things. But for all practical purposes, we are moved. The former offices are vacated and awaiting renovation as new friary rooms.
The word that is on my mind this month is “beginnings.” It was on my mind last month, too, but more from the perspective of “change.” As I write this, I am preparing to travel to St. Louis once again. I’ve been there a lot these past months. On Saturday I will celebrate a Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in thanksgiving for all the wonderful blessings that have come to us Capuchins during the six decades that we have been living and ministering in St. Louis. Affiliates, co-workers, benefactors, Secular Franciscans, and lots of other friends will join together for a liturgy and social.
It’s appropriate that we celebrate this on the actual day of the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1), even though we will be celebrating the mass for the Commemoration of All Souls this weekend. Why do I think it is “appropriate”? Well because this is a weekend that we focus our attention on the new life – the next life – that follows death. Centuries ago Spanish explorers came into this land in search of the “fountain of life.” That has always stuck with me from the time in grade school when we heard the stories of Ponce de Leon and others who were certain that somewhere in this new land was the fountain of life.
Of course, these explorers, as all of us will one day, found the fountain of life, but not in the way they envisioned. Our faith in the resurrection of Jesus assures us that we are all on an expedition to find the fountain of life. It comes through the waters of baptism and through our Gospel expedition in this life through death and into eternal life – the real fountain of life.
So, again, why is it appropriate to be celebrating our thanksgiving for the blessings given and received in St. Louis on this weekend? Because our expedition as Capuchins, as followers of the Gospel in the footsteps of St. Francis and St. Clare, is leading us to new life – dare I say closer to the real fountain of life? There is sadness, to be sure. I feel it acutely. So do all the friars who have ministered long and hard in St. Louis. So do our friends who love and care for us. We are all sad, as we are sad when sister death visits us to call someone we love. But what lies ahead is life – new life – for all souls who have been faithful to their Gospel expedition.
The thanksgiving celebration in St. Louis is not all that is going on in the province this month! On November 17, Archbishop Chaput will celebrate with us the 20th anniversary of the arrival of the Capuchin Poor Clares at Our Lady of Light Monastery in Denver. On November 18, Bishop Sheridan will bless our new friary or Our Lady of the Angels in Colorado Springs. On November 19, Archbishop Chaput will bless San Damiano Friary, our newly established student house. And on November 27 – Thanksgiving Day – the friars and parishioners of St. Fidelis in Victoria, Kansas, will begin a three year celebration commemorating the building of the magnificent Cathedral of the Plains, St. Fidelis Church.
Brothers, sisters, friends: It’s OK to be sad because we love much. It is also OK to rejoice, because we live much.
May the Lord give you peace and all good things.
Brother Charles Polifka, OFM Cap.