We had our initial formal community meeting to discuss our goals and objectives for the coming year, and to assign responsibilities among the three of us. Bob Koppes has agreed to be the Community Contact Person as we continue as a community of Shared Responsibility. Charles Avendano has been good enough to take this on for the last several years, but feels it is time for a change. We have added on to our previous stated commitments our plan to reassess our volunteer program and how the process for recruitment and retention can be modified to better suit participants needs.
|John, Charles and Bob at Lantern Light-- as happy as if they were normal.|
As we discern the future of the volunteer program here in New Orleans, we have received wonderful input from Caitlyn DeCastro and Catherine Drennan in response to an invitation to critique a draft overview statement. We are also speaking with young adults who have had an experience of adult faith formation, especially as it concerns community life. This is an effort to avoid talking to ourselves or limit our discernment to our generation or religious with similar background and training. We wish to open ourselves beyond our boundaries, pre-conceived notions, and to invite new insights and possibilities. One of the ways is to invite young adults in to dinner to meet us, to see the facilities we share with volunteers, and to listen to their experiences and expectations.
|Kristin, Br. Charles, Courtney and Katie on the balcony, St. Henry's Church behind them.|
Kristen Niedbala was joined by two friends, Courtney Robert and Katie Sanders, and they came to dinner on Wednesday, the 10th. Kristen has met with Br. John a number of times to discuss our experience of volunteer community and our literature and processes. Katie was a full time missionary with FOCUS [Faith on Campus US] and she and Courtney now work full time with Dumb Ox Ministries. It is “a Catholic non-profit organization which illuminates the truth and beauty of God’s love. Through authentic relationships, we form teens, young adults, and families into people open to receive and respond to God’s unique plan for their lives.” [Quoting their website.]
After dinner and Evening Prayer on the 10th Br. Bob gave our visitors a tour of the house and we sat and talked a bit about our program and answered their questions. We hope in the near future to welcome some of the young men in leadership at Dumb Ox Ministry to a meal, shared prayer and conversation.
Recent days have been very hot and humid; downpours in the late afternoon are common. The weather broke on Saturday, it was fairly dry and only in the mid-80’s—so the vines did not have a chance and we now have a grotto in the wall of Confederate jasmine with an antique cast concrete angel holy water stoup—we think that is what it was. Anyway, it closes the vista looking toward Constance Street from the side garden.
|Caitlyn, Kyle and Vincent planted the Confederate jasmine six years ago.|
On Sunday, the 15th Br. Bob was at St. Gabriel’s to check out with a sister involved in prison ministry what she thought about the Angola Prison Rodeo. She thought it a good idea to support it, so that will be a ‘community outing.’ Br. Charles was at St. Joseph’s on Tulane [which hosts Lantern Light Ministries] for a Mass celebrating many branches of the Vincentian religious communities and services that they support. Br. John was at the Marianite Sisters of the Holy Cross [MSC] in the Marigny for a Mass and the Transfer of Vows of Sr. Kathleen Mary Nealon from the Congregation of the Redeemer to the Marianites. John worked with Sr. Kathleen on a committee; she is from Rhode Island, and her Dad went to Bishop Hendricken, before our Brothers went there. Sr. Kathleen heads to a Marianite mission in Haiti next week.
Being present as Brother to the many groups with which we serve stretches us; but can be tiring!!!! However, being invisible or staying home hardly seem strategies for inviting vocations. We figure it is worth the effort to collaborate, support, listen, and learn from others—and share a good meal and hospitality! Who wants to join a group whose motto is: “Join us and be tired.”
“For Henri Nouwen, discernment is hearing a deeper sound beneath the noise of ordinary life and recognizing the interconnectedness of all things to gain a vision of “how things hold together” (theorik physike) in our lives and in the world. “Discernment is a life of listening to a deeper sound and marching to a different beat, a life in which we become ‘all ears’.” [ Michael J. Christiansen - See more at: http://www.uscatholic.org/blog/201308/henri-nouwen-prayer-and-discernment]