Over the River and Through the Province
It was a wonderful gathering and Advent/Christmas celebration at the Governor's Mansion on Wednesday night, December 2. Being together with all the wonderful supporters of the Capuchins was a priviledge and an Advent joy. The little program was great, too! The present and past first ladies of Colorado -- Ms.Ritter and Ms.Owens -- were present to honor us, and their words to us were greatly appreciated. I hope my comments and the friars' singing of our traditional Christmas carols were enjoyable moments for all, too. We have great friars in our province and fantastic friends. The Capuchin fraternity shines like the Bethlehem star on evenings like this one.

I left early on Thursday morning, after the friary Mass, and drove over the many dry creeks to Salina where I met with Bishop Coakley. He's another great friend of the Capuchins who appreciates the Capuchin charism and the religious presence of the Capuchins in his diocese.

As I was coming out of Bishop Coakley's office, Sr.Barbara Ellen caught me and showed me an abum by Steve Angrisano which contained a song dedicated to our own Fr. John Lager. The song was entitled, "Amazed by You," and Mr. Angrisano wrote this: "For Fr. John Lager. Your authentic, gentle spirit ministers to me. Thank you for your faith, your witness and your love for my family. Pray for us, St.Francis of Assisi." Beautiful! I was so proud of Fr. John. And then to top it off, Sr.Barbara showed me the back page of "The Leaven" (Archdiocesan paper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas) where Fr.John was quoted in large print from an interview at NCYC.

I moved on across the Saline River, Smokey Hill River and Kansas River to Lawrence and to St.Conrad's Friary. I was able to spend a little more than two days there and to join the friars for part of a recollection day on Friday. We have such good friars! On Saturday night, the friars hosted Stephanie Pedersen and myself and the Board of Directors of the newly formed San Damiano Formation Endowment Corporation. It was a good meeting and the new corporation is off and running with high hopes of providing assistance for the formation programs of the Capuchin Province of Mid-America. It was great to visit some of my good friends in Lawrence, too.

On Sunday morning I moved back across the rivers to St.Fidelis in Victoria where I spent a couple of days with the friars in Victoria and Hays. Again, it's impressive and inspiring to be with these friars in the joy and sacredness of the Advent season. I marveled at Fr. Greg's exquisite Advent decorations in the friary chapel in Victoria as well as Fr. Earl's equally exquisite decorations in the friars' recreation room at St. Joseph's.

This has been one of those visits through the province that I love: visiting the friars and being present without attending to a lot of personnel business. This is the high point of my Advent season -- just being with the friars. Hopefully, I can continue to do that in the coming days and spend time being with the friars in Denver and Colorado Springs.

Everyone here in Ellis County is waiting and wondering about whether or not we will get hit by a gigantic snow storm this evening and tomorrow. Oh well, I've always felt secure in a friary. It's a good place to find Jesus.

Written December 7, 2009