I hope this message finds all of you well, I know this is not in doubt for the rugby fans! Its been great to see the boys in green enthral the nation, the only thing is I miss the celebrations here, that atmosphere after a good win is uniquely Irish. It is a pity that the exploits in rugby have overshadowed the exploits in cricket which in many ways are the more significant. I’m sure Dubliner Eoin Morgan has realised the err in his ways in captaining England, now knocked out of the World Cup!
The new Salesian App is a step into the unknown in the Salesian world, I’m not aware of too many provinces with apps, and the facelift for the webpage makes the Irish province website one of the best in Europe at least! It was great to see the new street named after Don Bosco in Pallaskenry and the visit of Michael D. Higgins there too. That Don Bosco mass in Celbridge I hear was a great success and the news for the house in Maynooth as a initial training ground for missionaries is very encouraging. The schools in Pallas and Celbridge have a lot going on as well as the houses in Dublin so its been great to hear and see all of this happening.
There isn’t a day that goes by in novitiate that is uneventful. The Don Bosco mass at Bosco Tech High School was a huge success. There was at least 2,000 students there from various Salesian high schools and elementary schools.
We then went on to the boys and girls club in the afternoon and had a celebration there. It was great fun until the rain hit and we had to go inside, but it didn’t last long. In the evening there was a dance for high school students and a symphony so we could pick and choose, both went very well. As novices we were truly blessed to be part of such a day, in the midst of young people, celebrating Don Bosco as one family.
The first Sunday of February brought with it Super Bowl Sunday, something that the lads were quite excited about here. I really can’t identify with this celebration, it in no way compares to GAA so thank God it was only a day!
The first Thursday of February, Ste and I collected Frs Michael and Martin from LAX airport. It was great to hear an Irish voice and to see a familiar face for the first time in a long time. It was all introductions the first night and on the Friday morning both Martin and Michael were booked in to speak with the novices as a group. They both did very well and gave the group as taste of what life is like as a provincial in Europe. Fr Michael joined us at the boys and girls club in the afternoon and had a good experience there. Bro Al Vu took us all out on Friday night in the city with Fr Joe from his community. It was a nice relaxing evening before the curatorium the following morning.
The curatorium went very well, there was a lot of consensus between what the novices had in their report and what the formators had in theirs. It was a chance for Michael to get to meet Fr Ted, Fr Tom, the provincials, Fr Tim, the regional and Fr Nick the formation representative. To celebrate, the English and Irish went to a restaurant called BJ’s. It was a great laugh with great company. The following day was crazy. Fr Michael and Fr Martin had the parish mass between them. After that we all went to Disneyland with Bro Al who sorted out the tickets and Damien, a candidate. We had a day to remember. Bro Al knows the place inside out so we got on all the good rides and seen the best of the place. Fair play to the provincials, they got on all of the rides! I guess Michael would see the water show at the end of the day as the highlight however, it is truly amazing.
During the week Michael settled into the novitiate routine as well as visiting different places. Because us novices were at class on Monday, Bro Al took Michael and Martin out to LA and Hollywood. On Wednesday, Michael, Fr Paul, Bro Al, Ste and I went to a Vietnamese restaurant, one of the benefits of living in is LA there are are so many cultures! It was nice for Fr Paul and Michael to meet and Michael managed to eat something in honour of Dominic and Paul!
On Wednesday evening, Michael and I went out to meet Chris, a good friend of mine and the main retreat leader, in Applebees. Thursday brought the trip to the sea, something that was on Michael’s wishlist coming over here. Bro Al took us to Santa Monica, it was a really hot day, and the title picture is us on the pier at Santa Monica. That evening, after a curatorium reflection meeting, the novices had a going away party for Fr Michael, they really liked him, especially that he had played volleyball with us the day before! Finally, on Friday, Bro Ernie, Michael Ronny and I went out for breakfast at Norm’s. It was great for Michael to get the chance to meet Ernie and from there, we got all of Michael’s luggage and Ste drove us to the airport so he could get his flight to San Fran!
It was not easy getting back into routine after that adventure! I did get a bit of a dose that only lasted the week.It was a great boost to have Michael for the week and having the provincials visit did remotivate the group. With the beginning of Lent the atmosphere in the house has changed and we are all in a more reflective mood. We did get to see the Tech Varsity basketball team make the playoffs after winning their league, a great achievement for a more academic school.
It has only been right to have a bit of a lull in Lent. Every Wednesday we have a Soup and Thought event where the local parishioners bring soup and we share a Lenten thought at the end. It has went very well so far. This has added a lot to our Lenten journey.
The boys and girls club has been going great and its all the more relevant considering that it has been decided that the novices will run the one month long residential summer camp in June! Its something we are all excited about, roles have been given out and I’m in charge of the nine year olds dorm! There has also been a large increase in retreats at the moment, communion and confirmation. I have gotten involved a bit, I gave a chapel tour yesterday and went to an away retreat on Sunday with nearly one hundred kids!
I’ll be seeing another Salesian close to our hearts tomorrow, John Horan, at the start of the Religious Education Congress, its going to be an experience of great learning and once again great to see someone from home! I’ll get all of the Limerick news from John. Following the conference we have Fr John Roche giving a workshop on media, sure to be great. Then at the end of the month we are travelling to Tijuana to see the reality there, it will sure be an experience and all the more so because it will be Easter.
Its all go, it is a year of great variety, that is proving to be one of a great deepening of faith, a growing of a deeper rootedness in my vocation and my own personal identity as a Salesian. Its great to have the opportunity then to put this into practice with retreats etc. Unfortunately, each day goes by more quickly and its nigh on impossible to find the time to do as much as I want but that is my obedience to this year and my commitment to my brothers.