Noviciate Update by Dave O’Hara

The roller coaster continues! Its gotten really buy here since I last sent out an update and it seems there will be no alleviation to this in the near future! We have had no rain since the first week of September but thankfully over the last few days it has started to cool down a bit. It was frustrating not to be able to watch the All Ireland final but I think I will manage to get a hold of the new series of Love/Hate at least.

Photo 1I’ll start with the biggest news first even though it is old news at this stage. We were one novice down for awhile but today on the feast of Teresa of Avila we are back to full compliment with Fr Selvaraj beginning his novitiate in Celbridge. Martins leaving was unexpected and upsetting for the Europeans, but he got a good send off and seemed content in his decision. We had a goodbye for him the night before he left, the whole community including Fr Bill had a swig of Jemmy to send Martin off. Gerhard, Ste and I left early the next morning for the airport to send Martin off with Fr Paul driving. For some reason or another the flight didn’t work out so we went back to Rosemead and Fr Paul brought us out for a authentic Vietnamese Lunch! Martin eventually got off on Tuesday morning and the rest of us adjusted and got on with the task at hand.

We travelled off to San Francisco for a weekend for the celebration of the Western Province’s jubilees. The journey was pretty long but it was worth it because San Fran is a beautiful place. We stayed in the community of Fr John Roche and Fr Arthur Lenti, whose texts we are very familiar with in Ireland. It was nice to see Berkeley and be part of the celebrations of the weekend. Many people attended and there were many inspiring stories of the Salesians who were celebrating.

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Back in the novitiate house things the ante has been upped. In the Tech, the various groups that we are part of, formation, retreats etc, have started up. There are extra meetings and a lot more things to do. The sports have started up in the school too and wow do the students train. American football and soccer are underway and both train everyday, mostly focusing on conditioning as its preseason. It is a mixture between gym work and cardio training. Training for the soccer team is at least two hours a day while football can be double this, every day! Some of the novices are asked to lead prayer before games and with the soccer team, my focus this year, the guys pray after every training session. There was a mass last week for life in the Tech, a big event, presided by the provincial Fr Ted. There are character assemblies and the senior retreat was held this week.

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The retreat centre has also gotten up into action and there are retreats every week, one small group of around thirty and a big group of around seventy. I try to hop into these as much as I can, not because I am familiar with them, because it is a lot different over here, but more for the learning. We can’t just drop all and go to a retreat so we have to fit it in, sacrifice lunch etc. It is a strong witness for the kids to hear our stories and they go crazy when I mention one direction, and of course half of them claim to be Irish! Im working with Fr Paul, the retreat centre director, closely. He is new in this year and is changing everything! I’ll be helping with the rebranding and anything else that I can.

The Friday night club is underway also. Its early days but its looking great. Its called PB&J, prayer, basketball and jams. We do a reflective/learning moment at the start, then play games until the goodnight at the conclusion. If we are not wrecked by Friday afternoon we certainly are by Friday night! Im also working with Bro Tom, the clubs director, who is also rebranding! Below is a segment of the Salesian newsletter InTouch on the club.

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Finally, as it is the month of Mary, we prayer the Rosary outside every evening with the local community, its pretty nice and we have to do the goodnights.

So thats all for now! Its busy, busy, some days are great and others are about keeping the head above water. I have found a decent balance at this stage and spend a lot of time reflecting. Thanks once again for all the messages, I’ll try get back as soon as I can to them, they are a great support for me. In dedication of Ireland’s famous draw against Germany (I was in class during the game) I am growing a Roy Keane style beard. Hope its not getting too cold just yet, send some water over!

God Bless,
Dave

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Download Noviciate Update 2 – PDF File