Easter Triduum Retreat Weekend (At Last)

I know it took a week in the making, but pictures can often tell a better story than simple words, and I patiently awaited pictures of the event to share with everyone else. Thanks a lot to Brother Vince for sending me the whole DVD of pics.

Friday afternoon I left Grand Rapids and headed around the lake to Burlington, Wisconsin. Ironically enough, I never got lost once on the freeways or driving through Chicago; upon entering Burlington, I drove around for 20 minutes, unable to find the Novitiate house.

It was good to see some of my fellow brothers-to-be once again, but it was nice to meet so many new faces that were interested in learning more about the Order. The number that I'd been told these past few months was 8: out of 14 applications, they were "pretty sure" 8 would actually be a Postulant this year: myself, Parker, Rich, Dan, Stan, Quang, Quan, and Kyle. However we're still 4 months away, and many more people could come and go between that time.

After catching up and getting some food inside of us, Mass was held for the last summer: the official start of the Triduum Retreat. Jeff, the Novice Director, was the celebrant for the Holy Thursday Mass.

One thing I never participated in with Holy Thursday: the washing of the feet. However since this was a religious brotherhood and not a parish, we each took turns as our feet were washed, and we then had the opportunity to wash each other's feet. Again, it was ironic how I was washing the feet of Bill Hugo, the Vocations Director, when a year ago I couldn't believe that I would ever be worthy enough for a religious vocation.

After Mass, we all had a great time in the common room: talking, sharing stories, playing games. I had to remind myself that I was on retreat since I was having so much fun. My idea of a retreat was being silent, solemn, and introspective...not laughing and spending time with others.

After morning prayer, we had a seminar lead by Helmut Rakowski, O.F.M. Cap. (Yes, you pronounce his name how it sounds; yes, he knows what it means in English.) A great guy with a great sense of humor, Helmut is the Director for Capuchin Solidarity - an interesting title to hold.

Helmut explained his role in the Order as he talked about Franciscan spirituality and the idea of sister-brotherhood held by all Franciscans. He talked on how Jesus did not just bring a new covenant, rather He gave the established religion something radically different: the inclusion of women, preaching to the Samaritans, care for the poor and those disassociated with society. He challenged the idea of "chosen people" by showing how all people were children of God.

That afternoon, we returned to the chapel for Good Friday services.

That night after evening prayer, we did what any group of guys would ordinarily do: released pent-up testosterone in a show of competition! One of the large halls had been gutted out, carpeted, and was now used as an indoor soccer/volleyball/football field. Pitting the home-team novitiates against the Postulants/Candidates, we spent hours playing soccer that night. I wow'ed the crowd with my Dominic Hasek style of goal-keeping, however seasoned pros like Tony from the Australian province made quick work of me when isolated 1-on-1.

Saturday we spent in seminars again, listening as Helmut talked more about the Franciscan Spirituality as well as the mission of the Order. Much of what he talked on Friday and Saturday connected with what I was feeling with regards to the Capuchins. With the main charism being Fraternity, I understood the mission to treat everyone, family, friends, professed brothers, people I hated, all as my brothers and sisters - a task easier talked about than lived. Yet that was exactly what Jesus spoke of.

Long have I talked about this idea of becoming a hero, but I never was sure how I was going to be someone important when it came to a religious vocation. What I learned and what I pondered on that day was the that by choosing to live the Capuchin life, I was already affecting change in the world.

That evening, I helped the choir for the Easter Vigil. It was a magnificent ceremony, and I hardly noticed the 3.5 hours that passed. I felt at home with my brothers; content in the understanding that if this is where God was leading me, I could happily live this life.

Parker and Stan participate as Lectors during the Easter Vigil.

Dan Anholzer, the Provincial for the St. Joseph province, was the celebrant for the Easter Vigil ceremony. I think he kinda looks like Drew Carey with the crew cut and glasses, but don't tell him I said so...I don't want to get kicked out of the Capuchins before I even get in!

More news, highlights, and zany fun as my days continue to count down until August 17. Stay tuned!

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