It seems like only yesterday that I finished my last exam and the end of school. But with the next semester of St. Xavier University less than a week away, it's good to look back at my summer placement in Detroit and the blessings I've received from being at those ministries.
...to comfort the afflicted - My main ministry in Detroit was working at the Solanus Casey Center. While I was able to use my tech skills to help out with a few tasks, the main job of this ministry was to be open, to listen, and to be present as people came to the center...both with their stories of wonder and their personal struggles. While taking the role of porter has long been considered the lowest "rung on the ladder," as Capuchins we have great respect for the role, as seen in St. Conrad of Parzham and Venerable Solanus Casey. Sometimes people would come in with their worries, only looking for someone listen - to know that another human being cared about their struggle. In those moments, I had to realize that I couldn't help, rather just allow myself to be a vessel through with the Spirit could provide healing.
The Healing Service was another part of this ministry. Each Wednesday at the Solanus Center, people come from all over to experience this blessing of healing and seek the intersession of Fr. Solanus. To be face-to-face with people in their struggles, offering everything up to God, is a powerful experience. By witnessing their faith, I've been able to grow in my own.
...to instruct the uninformed - One of the opportunities I wanted to partake in was to spend time at our retreat house in Washington, MI. The Capuchin Retreat Center is a beautiful 95-acre area that provides a getaway as well as instruction for people looking to disengage from the bustle of everyday life. I don't think many people think about "retreat work" when they discern their vocation. Most think about direct service, youth ministry, or being pastor of a parish. After getting experience in retreat ministry, I've seen how valueable it is to people's spiritual needs.
I experienced several retreats, and was always suprised to listen to the presenters. Each had their own different style, their own way of approaching a topic. But whether they were discussing Franciscan Theology or giving a story from their life in the Order, they had a way of enlightening people that was both unassuming and connected. It's one thing to be preached at it's another to be engaged with. I was shown great examples of how we as Capuchins excel in this area.
...to visit the prisoners - A big reason I joined the Capuchins was witnessing how Ray Stadmeyer accompanied 5 ex-convicts though the R.O.P.E. program and started a business off of their baking. So I was excited about the opportunity to visit On The Rise Bakery run by the Capuchin Soup Kitchen...not just about the pastries, but to reconnect with an experience that drew me into Capuchin life.
Listening to Edward's story, between cutting cookies and making pineapple upside-down cake, I was reminded of why I chose to be here. Edward's future and health, something he rarely thought of before, were owed to the Capuchins. Each day he looked at the world with joy, positivity, and thanks to God for being where he was. And while he thanked the Capuchins unceasingly for his deliverance from crime, drugs, and violence, the Bro. Ray is quick to remind that it is by following the Gospel that the Capuchins do what we do.
...to bury the dead - While living at St. Bonaventure Monestary last summer, brother Malcolm Maloney passes away after medical complications. During my time there, I witnessed how Malcolm's health deteriorated. For many people, it's not something that we would choose to be around consistently.
These days, my prayer is filled with these experience - constantly reflecting on where God was present. I thank God for the wonderful summer, the experiences of these past few months, and I am thankful for each day that I get to be a friar.
(I wonder what I get to do next summer!)