Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rockford - Minnesota - Mishawaka - Angola - Carey

March 30, 2011

Peace and Good,

Sorry I'm a few days late, but being on the road, it is hard to keep up with things. I am still visiting friaries across the Mid West.

I was in Rockford, arriving on Sunday the 20th to visit of friary of our Polish friars. There are five friars from our Cracow province who are living there and serving in three parishes. One is a Polish parish, one Hispanic, and the third is non-ethnic. The friars are doing great work, and have really tried to learn English. The friar working at the Hispanic parish must know three languages (his native Polish, English, and the Spanish that he learned as a missionary in Peru).

From there, I drove to Minnesota on Tuesday. Of course, there was snow along the way. I passed any number of accidents and cars off the road because they were trying to pass in the passing lane that had not yet been plowed.

I first visited a parish in Bloomington, St. Bonaventure. There are three friars there, one retired, one pastor of St. Bonaventure, and the third the pastor of the parish down the street. This is happening more and more, where parishes can only have one priest and the friar-priests live in a central location and serve in more than one place.

I could tell I was in Minnesota. When I opened up the fridge in the rec room, there was a whole assortment of pickled herring.

In the parish boundaries is the Mall of America, the second largest mall in the world (at least it was a few years ago). There are over 400 stores. I went there to do my daily walk because walking in the snow while you are wearing sandals is not a great idea (even I know that). It is a remarkable place. They have more submarines in the pools along the way than the Canadian navy. There is a roller coaster in the central atrium, etc.

The next day I visited the retreat house at Prior Lake. This is one of four retreat houses in the province. It is very busy on the weekends, not so much during the week. There are five friars there (one of whom is in a nursing home). The friar in the nursing home is named Jude, so the two Judes finally got a chance to meet after hearing about each other for many years. Jude R. is a real talker. When I mentioned that I had to be going, it was like a challenge for him to talk more so that I couldn't get out of the room.

I then drove to our novitiate in Mishawaka, Indiana. This was a long ride, about nine hours. Thank God that I love driving and that I had a CD player going the whole way.

On Sunday I drove out to our friary in Angola, Indiana. This is right near the border with Ohio. I celebrated Mass in one of our parishes along the way. The parish in Angola had a tragedy. There was an accident in Alabama in which four local students from the high school were killed on their way back from spring break in Florida. One of those killed was a server at St. Anthony Parish, our parish. Everyone was quite shaken. Please keep their families in your prayers. They will be buried Friday and Saturday of this week.

I will leave off the travelogue here and pick up with Sunday in the next blog.

I finished another book by EM Forster (the author of A Passage to India). This one was titled Where Angels Fear to Tread. It is about a young widow who travels to Italy, falls in love with a local and marries him, and all the difficulties she endures and how her in laws react. Like A Passage to India, it has a lot to do with the difficulties of the British to understand and appreciate other cultures. The Brits come off as judgmental prigs. (This is something we Americans can certainly take into account at times when we judge how other people live throughout the world.)

A second book was the History of Charles the Second by Jacob Abbott. This is part of Abbott's series of biographies of historical figures. Charles the Second is not exactly an exemplary figure, and his reign helped lead to the overthrow of the Stuart dynasty in England. These were the years of the great plague and also of the great fire of London.

Hope you have a good week.
fr. Jude

Monday, March 21, 2011

Louisville - Terre Haute - St. Louis - Rockford

March 21, 2011

Peace and Good,

Well, the journey continues. I finished up my visitation at Mount St. Francis, the provincialate/shrine/retreat house for Our Lady of Consolation Province. I saw about 30 friars in the Louisville area, so almost a third of those whom I will be visiting in the next couple of months.

I went up to Terre Haute, Indiana. There is a friary there with friars who take care of two parishes. It is not really a city, only a big town. The churches are quite beautiful, and it is obvious that the people love the friars. As one of the friars was showing me St. Benedict's Church, an old timer passed through and told me the history of the Church. It is so great to see how proud the people are of the place where they worship. The stained glass windows are from Innsbruck, and they are magnificent.

From there I travelled to St. Louis. This is the first time that I have really seen any of the city. The cathedral has magnificent mosaics that take your breath away. One of our friars, fr. Wayne Hellmann, is the head of the theology department at St. Louis University there. He is a great Franciscan scholar, and he has mentored a number of students in Franciscan studies over the years. We also visited a couple of our older friars who are in care facilities in the area.

I then drove to Rockford, Illinois. There is a lot of corn fields between St. Louis and Rockford. I am visiting a friary of Polish friars from our Cracow province. One of the other assistant generals is visiting their province, but it is a lot of time and money to fly over here to see one friary. They are taking care of three parishes in the area, serving people in English, Polish and Spanish.

I have finished a couple of books this week. One is Seven Japanese Tales by Junichiro Tanizaki. I have been reading a series of short stories by authors from different nations. It is fascinating to see what those authors consider to be important. These tales were completely different from much of what I am used to reading. There is a different pace to the story and the topics are things that I might not consider to be important. There is a great variety in these tales (from a man who is afraid to take a train and gets drunk to get on it to a long tale of the warfare of a series of feudal lords in the Samurai period).

The other is The Centreville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. This is a short novella about a ghost who haunts and terrifies a house but which is tamed by the antics of an oblivious American family who refuse to be frightened by it. It is eventually released from its torment by the love of one of the family members. It is Wilde at his best.

Take care and have a good week.
fr. Jude

Monday, March 14, 2011

Rome - Ellicott City - Louisville

March 14, 2011

Peace and Good,

I have travelled to Louisville (actually right across the river to a town called Mount St. Francis) to begin my visitation of Our Lady of Consolation Province. OLC province extends from Ohio to Minnesota and then friaries in Texas and New Mexico. There are around 110 friars in it.

we have a visitation in a province every six years or so. The idea is just to take stock of how the friars are doing individually and as a group. I am not really looking for problems, but more letting the friars tell their story and to encourage them to do what they are doing, but maybe with more enthusiasm. The Minister General speaks of how we were so enthused when we first entered the friars, but how over the years we might have grown a little complacent. Hopefully, this visitation will get a couple of the friars to ask the important questions of themselves again.

I have started out in the friars in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky, an area that they call Kentuckiana. There are probably 25 friars right in this region. There is the retreat house where I am staying, and three other major friaries within a 25 minute drive of here.

It is great to hear the friars' stories. Often, as friars, we get so busy with what we are doing (which is all good) that we forget to slow down and simply let the other friars tell us what is going on in their lives.

I have finished a couple of works. The first was a series of lectures on Ancient Greek History by Donald Kagan. I believe that he lectures at Yale, and he wrote a very successful book on the Peloponesian War between Athens and Sparta. He is good as a lecturer, although sometimes he pushes his own theories a bit much.

The second was the Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyesvski. This is one of those long, long Russian novels. I think I enjoyed Anna Kerenina by Tolstoy more than this book. There are some very unlikely jumps in the action. The most famous section is called the Grand Inquisitor. It presents Jesus coming back to earth and the Grand Inquisitor putting him to death again because his presence would prove to be disruptive. The last thing that the institution wanted was for people to be truly free.

Take care and have a good, safe St. Patrick's Day.
fr. Jude

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back in the States

March 7, 2011

Peace and Good,

I'm a day late in posting this because I was traveling from Rome to Ellicott City yesterday. I will be in the States now for about a month.

Last week was all meetings in Rome. We meet every six weeks, and our meetings go from Monday morning until Saturday noon. We speak about the friars over the whole globe, from China and India to Canada and Argentina. Much of what we hear is simply information, but at times we are asked to make decisions that will have life changing consequences. I feel a sacred responsibility as we try to discern where the Spirit is calling our order to go over these next few years. What is good is that the council (there are ten of us) work as a team and there is a great amount of respect for the other members.

During the week we spent an afternoon at a new community of friars (OFM's, the friars who wear the brown habit) outside of Rome at a place called Palestrina. They are attempting to live a simpler life style. They are very down to earth, not doing anything which I would call strange. But they are simply taking more time for prayer and dialogue within the community and with people who visit them. I was very impressed with their joyful spirit.

I finished a couple of books this week. The first is the first volume (of many) of the Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Gaius Suetonius. This volume was on Julius Caesar. It is interesting to read sources that were written not that long after the lives of these historic figures. Even then, though, much of the portrait is based upon who is ruling when the author wrote (lest he get in trouble with the powers that be). Each volume is relatively short, and it is concluded with a section on the writers and artists of that particular era (I think these were added by the editor).

The second book was the Call of the Wild by Jack London. It was fascinating how he wrote the whole story from the viewpoint of the dog. It is about a dog that is dognapped in California during the Yukon gold rush and the series of owners who either care for or do not care for it. Some of the owners are wise in the ways of the wild, while others are foolish and pay the price for their lack of preparation and forethought.

I will be flying to Louisville tomorrow for the beginning of a trip to the various friaries of one of our provinces.

God bless and
fr. Jude