By Andrew Phillips
Overall, the time that I have spent here at the Novitiate in Toronto has been a good year of prayer, discernment, and developing relationships with my fellow Novices and the Redemptorist community here at St Germain. Throughout this time in Novitiate, I have really enjoyed learning about the Congregation’s history, charism, and what my life might possibly look like as a Redemptorist. I also find it hard to believe that the year has gone by so fast (tempus fugit)!
While the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly put a damper on our social and professional lives, things at the Novitiate have been going steadily since our canonical year began in July. Even though we are not able to meet and socialize with friends, family, classmates, and other Novices in person, Zoom has been a great tool to keep us all connected. For instance, we have monthly meetings with the Redemptorist Novices in the North American Conference, facilitated by Fr. Jack Kingsbury, C.Ss.R. Also, we have been able to connect with Novices of the Inter-Community Novitiate in Chicago via Zoom. It has been a great experience to connect with other Novices from different communities as we all continue to discern our vocations to religious life. So, I guess that is one good thing that has come out of the pandemic! Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we discern and come closer to professing first vows.
By Noel Oco
As a Novice preparing to take my first Vows, I am learning the importance of reading and reflecting on the Constitutions and Statutes as a constant guide in living the life of a Redemptorist. One particular Constitution made a great impact on my journey from the beginning of the Novitiate. The first time I read it, it clearly painted the ideal Redemptorist that is both inspiring and challenging at the same time:
“Strong in faith, rejoicing in hope, burning with charity, on fire with zeal, in humility of heart and persevering in prayer, Redemptorists, as apostolic men and genuine disciples of Saint Alphonsus follow Christ the Redeemer with hearts full of joy; denying themselves and always ready to undertake what is demanding, they share in the mystery of Christ and proclaim it in Gospel simplicity of life and language, that they may bring to people plentiful redemption.” (Constitution #20)
As I reflect on each of the phrases of Constitution #20 I am constantly reminded of the meaningful gift of the Redemptorist spirituality that we are called to be and to share as we follow Christ the Redeemer in the wounded world we live in. The journey continues day by day.
By Noel Bustillos
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! Greetings! I truly appreciate this invitation and opportunity to share my experience of the Novitiate with the greater Redemptorist community. I have much to say that cannot be contained in one short paragraph. Aside from the consuming Covid times that we find ourselves in, I have had a tremendous life-giving and fruitful Novitiate year! I am forever grateful to the Lord, and his Redemptorists, for this great opportunity that they have provided me. I truly think that every Catholic should discern and experience religious formation at some point in their life! You are missing out!!! I must admit though, this year-long retreat hasn’t all been a honeymoon, so let me please get that straight right away! The Novitiate has certainly had its challenging and stretching moments. I have come face to face with myself, looking into my interior, and encountering the good and the not so beautiful. I have had to confront and struggle with breaking away from old habits, thoughts, attitudes, attachments, and fears. I did not think that I would make it this far! I am relieved that I have been able to face my fears and past traumas, because this has allowed me to grow and begin the healing process. The Novitiate has allowed me to foster and deepen my prayer life. In moments of self-doubt and impatience, I felt like I wrestled God, as did Jacob of Israel. So many times, I just wanted to run! This year has been one of introspection, full of self-doubt and many questions. The Novitiate experience has challenged me to become a better companion, to treat, respect and truly love my neighbor as I do myself. It has inspired me to seek God’s Will in my life. The many conferences and retreats have exposed me to the knowledge and wisdom of the wide array of Church women and men, clergy, and pastoral programs offered by our Church. Father Ray and Father Mark have transported us to the times of Saint Alphonsus, and have moved us to serve the Lord within the most abandoned people and places of our world, in the ways of Saint Alphonsus and Saint Clement. I have learned much about the Congregation and the lives of our Redemptorists Saints and Blesseds. This Novitiate year I have developed a stronger, personal devotion to St Joseph (prior to Pope Francis’ 2021 commemoration) and to Blessed Vasyl Velichkovsky, the future saint of my region. A big shout out to the Yorkton Region! To sum it all up, if I could say it in one sentence, the Novitiate has allowed me to deepen my relationship with our Lord and his mother, with his Redemptorists, and the world and Church. If it is not too much I ask for your prayers. I will keep your intentions in mine. Thanks for your time.