I know it’s been a while since my last update, but don’t fear, I haven’t forgotten about you!
So far Novitiate has kept me busy with a whole lot of down time. Which is good. I’ve been very thankful for this time to have nothing on my calendar and to just enjoy life with my other brothers and discovering what being a Norbertine is all about. Besides 2 classes 3 times a week, and a weekly meeting, there is not much else for me to do now, than to have a chance to keep myself open to the Spirit of God working in my life.
I do appreciate the weekly excursions to a town called Techny, Illinois. It’s about an hour north of the city (an hour and a half if traffic is really bad). The old international headquarters for a religious group called the Society of the Divine Word (SVD), the building has been renovated into a conference center. There are about 12 other religious communities present there, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to network with about 60 other novices. I think I’ve mentioned before that they come from all over the world, which is a great experience. This way I get to practice my Spanish skills outside of the classroom with a few new friends of mine from Mexico.
I also learned from my friend, Comfort, from Ghana, that I have a twin! A good friend of hers back in Ghana named Robert (which is my middle name) is a seminarian for the diocese and is also a choir director. He apparently talks the same way I do, looks like me, and even stands like me. Comfort and I took a picture at one of our last meetings and she sent it to him, and he should be sending a picture back as well. When I get it, perhaps I’ll send it out so you can be the judge too.
We have been practicing the radical Norbertine hospitality I’ve heard so much about lately. Because this house is in Chicago, naturally it is a prime spot for traveling Norbertines to stop on their way around the country. So we have been having many guests coming and going from De Pere, Albuquerque, Daylesford Abbey in PA, and even Fr. Jack McCarthy from Peru. It has been a great time getting to know these guys and find out their stories. Inevitably they always share stories of their Novitiate experience, which is wonderful to hear.
As much as I am enjoying my time here in Chicago, I’m looking forward to next month because I will be back in De Pere quite a bit. On Nov. 13 our Order celebrates the Feast of All Saints of the Order, so we will be at the Abbey that weekend. Then we come back to De Pere for Thanksgiving, and come right back the following weekend to be installed as lectors ( a minor order on the way to priesthood) That same weekend, the first weekend in December, is also a “Come and See” Weekend. This gives anyone who is considering Norbertine Life to come to the Abbey for the weekend, on a discernment retreat. I went on one last year and was energized by the life and the faith that I saw, so I’m hoping guys that come this year will have the same experience. Then we are back December 18 for a two week Christmas break before we fly out to PA for the month of January for classes at Daylesford Abbey. And still, somewhere in there we have a week of classes at the Abbey in De Pere studying our Constitutions, so all in all a lot of travel coming up soon. But like I said, I’m looking forward to it!
On the topic of the “come and see” weekend, keep praying for vocations, please! It is working! Rumor has it that there could be up to 11 guys applying to the Order next year!!!!!! That is great news!!! So please keep the prayers coming. God keeps calling, we need guys to answer the call, and people like you to support the call! Who knows, you may a guy who is interested… you should ask around 😉
Besides developing a regular prayer schedule, I’ve also found myself filling my days with reading. I’m in the middle of reading one of Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s book called A Priest for the Third Millennium. It is a great book! Also our own Fr. Alfred McBride, who is quite the accomplished author wrote another book on priesthood that I enjoyed very much. I read a short essay on Praying the Psalms by Thomas Merton, who is a wonderful writer. You should check him out if you haven’t already. And of course, the letters written by Abbot Pennings are enthralling as well. We just got to the year 1898; the year the Norbertines moved down from the Door Peninsula and settled in De Pere and founded the college. So I really am reading my own history now.
By the way, did you know that De Pere had an electric street car on Third street already in 1898. Who knew???
If you have any books that you recommend, please let me know. I have fallen in love with reading again. Probably because I’m not forced to have to read anything for school these days, so I can actually enjoy picking up a book. 😉 ha ha.
Well, I think that is all I have to say. Sorry for the long delay, but I wanted to save up enough news so I actually had something to say. Keep praying for me and the future of the Norbertines!!!
Many prayers, all the time,