The novitiate is moving very quickly indeed! There has been a lot going on since my last update. Im delighted to have seen Ireland finish the Autumn internationals unbeaten recently, although Americans don’t seem to have an idea about rugby so I celebrated alone! Its raining as I write this, the Europeans are loving it and the rest of the guys are squirming!
For the end of October and the beginning of November the novitiate moved to Monterey. It was a trip of great variety and we availed of the many tourist attractions at hand. We visited what seemed at the time all of the missions started by the great Padre Junipero Serra. It is an interesting part of American history but unfortunately for us the missions are quite similar so by the time we were visiting the last of them we knew our way around quite well! The missions were primarily built to convert the locals in the 1800’s.
Our base during this trip was the beautiful Camp St Francis where we will hopefully be working in the summer time. It is a residential camp and the facilities are great, even a private beach area, which us novices availed of for some campfires. We visited Monterey and the Monterey Bay Aquarium as part of the trip too. The aquarium is world famous and lived upped to its billing.
We visited St Francis High School and Cerritos Elementary School ran by the Salesian Sisters. The high school is a very modern facility and we got a good tour of the school and visited a couple of the classes.
The elementary school was an amazing experience. It is a great location in the hills and the school itself is unbelievable. The seventh grade class were waiting to play sports with us and we played for ages. It was lunch next and of course we finished that quickly so we could meet the rest of the students. They were the most polite and inquisitive kids I have ever met! There was a special service in the school chapel and the novices had to introduce themselves. It was quite a sight to see kindergarten students trying to genuflect and bless themselves at the same time! Each grade were given a novice to pray for and made for us a lovely card. I got the second graders and they are a great bunch. I spoke to them in their classroom afterwards. They didn’t have much of a clue of what I said but it was a great moment and one of those once in a lifetime experiences that all of the novices will be able to look back on when things get tough.
The final highlight of the Monterey trip was the 17 Mile Drive. Another tourist attraction that lives up to its billing. It has the most beautiful sights in the world. We were awestruck throughout the drive and I was particularly happy to stand on the famous Pebble Beach 17th green, my favourite hole in the Tiger Woods golf game I played in my younger days!
It was a great way to start into November. Things continued to be busy with class everyday and various events in the Tech.
Somedays are great and fly and others seem like they will never end! We are continuing with our constitutions classes everyday. Im enjoying learning about St Philip Neri’s influence on Don Bosco and also studying the Rector Majors letters. Our new Major is very much Franciscan in his ways and this has very much been a theme for me this month. There is an emphasis to really reach out to the poorest of the poor youth and Pope Francis’ belief of the shepherd has to be in at least a little bit like his flock ties into our concept of poverty and total self giving. I have read and prayed a lot about this recently and it has been quite a struggle at times but at the same time it is giving me greater clarity as to God’s will. Certainly the development with the Boy’s and Girl’s Club has aided this. The Friday night club was pulled due to old numbers but I jumped at the opportunity to help out on Friday afternoons. For the guys who have went so far it has been sobering. I haven’t been called ‘Mister’ since Sean Mc or offered pirate DVD’s since Southill so its been a sort of coming home for me.There has been much questions and much discussion as a result.
I fell into a big trap by volunteering for a vocations exhibition! I thought it was a man the stall job but in fact it was more of give a 15 min talk to a pretty big group of kids! It was a learning experience and thank God it went pretty well!
Of course the big American news is the celebration of Thanksgiving last week. It was hard to get into the spirit of it but it was good fun. The communities in the area celebrated with a big get together at the Tech community. The following day the novitiate community visited Lake Arrowhead for a relaxing day, like we really needed that!
We then went to Disneyland on Saturday for another trip of a lifetime, luckily a cool parishioner sorted us out with the tickets, unforgettable!
Soooo, ehm back to the novitiate! I feel lucky and blessed to be able to be part of the year. There are so many opportunities for seeing a different part of the world and experiencing a different culture. Keeping focused on the task at hand is the main thing and that in a way hangs over the novitiate day to day. The fact that we have the time and the different forums to grow in our prayer life this year is proving to be very worthwhile. My relationship with Christ is growing daily and while I can’t serve as I feel called to (a killer) I’m preparing myself to be able to answer that call as best I can by utilising my potential. I’m once more very thankful for all the messages and news I received regularly. I wish any of you doing exams the best and hope all are doing well in your various ministries I hope the Advent is a great time of preparation and renewal for you all . I’ll send out a message for Christmas, not far away now!