By Fr. David Purcell, C.Ss.R.
In May I was part of an event that impressed me deeply. I felt encouraged in my vocation as a Redemptorist. I was inspired by the stories of men….who have made great sacrifices to become Redemptorists….who have high hopes and ideals about what the Redemptorists can do in North America…who have fallen in love with the way of life in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Each year all the students from North America and their formation personnel and co-ordinators of vocation ministry get together for a week. This year the gathering was held at a Redemptorist retreat centre near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Graham Hill describes well for us what this event is all about:
“It exposes (or deepens the exposure) of those in formation to some aspect of Redemptorist spirituality. It encourages relationships between individuals in different student houses, and so opens the way to working together in the future — so important in the conference approach to mission. It allows former classmates to be re-united, and individuals to renew friendships, and to share experiences, games, and laughter. It allows formators to exchange information and ideas among themselves, and helps to facilitate the transfer of students from one phase of their formation to the next. Above all it demonstrates that there are many more men in the process of dedicating their lives to the service of the Congregation than perhaps many of us realize, and so fosters hope in the future.”
Fr. John Kingsbury was present with us. At left we see him, along with Fr. Juventius Andrade from the General Council, and Provincial Council members from the Baltimore and Denver Provinces who received the renewal of vows of 8 students for these two Provinces.
Fr. Kingsbury wrote: “To see our current seminarians coming from such a diverse cultural, ethnic and linguistic background and getting along so well seems to be how the Lord wants to use the Redemptorists at this time in history as a witness that all are called to come together as one and celebrate being the People of God.”
Fr. Gary Lauenstein (pictured at right with students) also summed up our experience in this way:
“Gathering with our North American Redemptorist Students was an encouragement and inspiration. It was particularly delightful to reconnect with our former novices. They have fond memories of their time in Toronto at the Novitiate. Other pluses were the conferences presented by Juvy Andrade, in which he recalled the ways of Redemptorist prayer. And the meetings with fellow formators is a boost of morale. So, in all, the week of reconnecting was well worth the time.”
A fine group of men “if I say so myself!” Please remember to ask the young adults you encounter this summer to come join us in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer!