By Fr. Ray Douziech, C.Ss.R.
March 15th, the feast of St Clement Mary Hofbauer was a special day of celebration in the house of formation. We not only remembered St Clement but we also had the Investiture of the habit for our three novices (pictured from left to right: Noel Oco, Andrew Phillips and Noel Bustillos).
We were pleased to have Fr. Provincial, Fr. Charles, with us. He offered us an inspiring reflection on the sanctity of St Clement and a reminder from St Alphonsus that we join the congregation to become saints. St Clement became a saint in his time and we have to become saints in today’s world. We do so as individuals and as a community, striving ever more to preach the Gospel anew. Fr Charles pointed out that the concept “anew” implies not only adaptation but also innovation. We have to continually strive to bring the Gospel message a-new to our brothers and sisters today, as St Clement did in his day.
Fr Charles challenged the novices who were receiving the habit. This investiture is a step on the road to profession as a Redemptorist. It is owning a symbol of what we strive for as Redemptorists as messengers of hope to a wounded world. At the same time, it is also frightening to wear a habit because it reminds the wearer of the need for integrity when preaching the Gospel. We must be what we claim to be.
Wearing the habit, Fr. Ray, the novice director, reminded the novices is like the towel Jesus wore when he washed his apostle’s feet; it is a sign of service, a declaration that we are putting on the Servant Christ. It is taking on an identity that draws us to the heart of the Mission of Jesus, to bring good news to the poor. It is an identity that says “Here I am, I serve, I am sent, I walk with.”
The novices were assisted in putting on the habit and rosary by the professed members of the community. Each novice had made their rosary and putting it on proved to be harder than it seemed – even with the frustration of a broken chain, which situation Brother Raymond rescued by loaning his own rosary. Once the novices were vested we proceeded with prayers for each one, prayers for our congregation and for its leadership. The Eucharist was a special celebration and a thanksgiving for our Canadian province. The presence of our Candidates also witnessing the investiture was an inspiration for their own journey. The chapel radiated with joy and the click of a multitude of photos.