This is a day of great importance historically. We remember the heroes of D-Day with a great sense of gratitude while at the same time remembering that the freedom we enjoy as a result of the efforts of others, is not enjoyed by all today as it should be. Of course there are strong Irish links to this historic day and war, but it was interesting to see that members of the old ‘FCA’ were extras on the great movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’, part of which was filmed in Wexford. It is great to see the more relevant work of the Irish in the Irish Naval service recently who are playing an important role in the safeguarding of migrants off of the coast of Italy. At the same time it is worrying to see the consistency in numbers of migrants from war-torn countries.
Today in Rosemead, we had a wider community Eucharist in remembrance of Don Bosco’s ordination which he made on the 5th of June back in 1841. It is fitting that we remembered it a day late because I received the good news today of the provincial council here that they are accepting me forward for my first profession as a Salesian of Don Bosco. I’m now getting ready to make the same commitments to God as Don Bosco did during his formation process. It is great news and I’m confident moving forward with all I have learned and experienced this year in preparation to be a consecrated Salesian.
It has been interesting looking at home over the last few weeks. I was sorry to hear of the passing of Mrs Kathleen McDonnell and Fr Peter Coffey recently and they have both been in my prayers. Poor Bill O’Herlihy is also no longer with us, the man who guided me through some of Ireland’s greatest sporting moments. Sepp Blatter is gone good riddance but old John Delaney has been left red faced, not for the first time! There has been a lot going on at the moment, even some historic events that I will refrain from commenting on until I return home, there are a bunch of cosmologists now who leave more informed! It was great to hear the annual retreat was a success and that Kathleen and the community upheld Milford’s reputation for hospitality.
As always it has been pretty busy here in novitiate. While our program is winding down, things are winding up for summer camp which is fast approaching! The ICF program finished at the start of May. Initially it was something I was not best looking forward to this year, but it turned out to be a great experience. I learned a lot from the various speakers we had and a lot from all people in formation who were part of the group.
We also had a once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Yosemite National Park a few weeks ago. While it doesn’t have the same characteristics as Glendalough, it is a truly amazing place, especially for hikers like Fr Dan and Fr Lukasz. It was great to have a bit of rain too and some ‘colder’ weather, no where near as cold as it has been at home over the last few weeks but colder than Los Angeles!
There were plenty of visitors to the novitiate recently. First of all there were Ste’s parents who visited for his 21st birthday. Then there was Fr Tom Dunne who we will see in August as he is visiting his family. Next up was Fr Joe Boenzi, the great DeSales scholar, who spent a week with us. He taught us a lot about De Sales though I would have much preferred Fr Eunan as the speaker! Finally we had Fr Rudi from Austria last week. I’m sure quite a few of you know him and it was great to have him visit.
For the whole month of May, Mary’s month, we had rosaries at the grotto at 7pm. We were joined by parishioners and when the month ended we had a procession and celebration. We did a similar thing back in October and this time around it was just as good. Being Salesians we have a special place for Our Lady, but being Irish I certainly do. A lot of this is down to my Grandmother, who told me about Our Lady as a kid and got me involved with the charity CASA, who she brought me to Lourdes with in 2008. That trip was a big influence on me, just like Mary continues to be so. I am glad I got to share that with the group. I did visit Knock with Michael Crilly last summer, it was quiet and just what we needed, so I hope that he is returning in my absence this summer!
Our time at Don Bosco Tech has also finished. The students finished their exams last week and are now on holidays. The whole system over here is quite different, so I have a lot of learning and great memories to bring back. The year finished with graduations last Friday;
I have been making the most of our last few basketball sessions recently. Throughout the year we have had the opportunity to play against the Bosco Tech alumni, it has been great getting to know the guys and also great to play at this level. It’s also nice being able to watch the NBA basketball finals at a decent hour here!
With more free time lately it has been the perfect opportunity to take part in more retreats. For the last few weeks the retreats have been mostly eighth grade graduation retreats. I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to meet such a variety of kids, to have heard their stories and to share in what is a great celebration for them, their graduation.
Last but not least, the club! I’ll be finished there very soon now and it’s a place I am going to miss an awful lot. Just hanging out there once a week this year has been a huge blessing, it helped me to grow, to discern, it has always been something to look forward to. I have received such love from the kids there and a lot of schooling, they don’t suffer fools gladly! They are also really talented, playing footie with them has been great and they are as hard as nails.
I have a busy few weeks ahead. As well as preparing for camp, I must properly prepare for taking my first vows. It is a huge step, a step I need to pray for the grace of God to guide me and to make me the Salesian He is calling me to be. I once again thank you all for your prayers and messages and calls, for sure I won’t be out of touch when I get home! I continue my prayers for you all here. I have a feeling this summer camp will live long in my memory!