Friday, January 22, 2010

Update On Pierre Julien

Peace and good! Just a little update on Pierre's family members in Haiti: both his Mom and brother are safe and sound! I spoke with him several days ago and he shared the good news and his appreciation for our prayers. Please continue to keep him in prayer as he discerns with our community. Pat, TOR

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prayers for Pierre

Peace and Good! I'd just like to ask our Friars, Friends, and followers of this blog to include a vocation prospect of our community in prayer as he awaits word on the fate of his loved ones in Haiti. His name is Pierre Julian and his Mother and Brother both live in Port-Au-Prince. I called the day after the earthquake to express my concern and to find out what happened to them and have not heard back from him. Please include him in a personal way in your intentions for the Haitian people during this tragic time. May God bless the people of Haiti and stir fires of solidarity on the part of the rest of the World to share in their grief and hope! Pat, TOR

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Outcome of "Come and See" Weekends

Peace and good and Happy New Year! Recently our community hosted two "come and see" style weekends, one at San Pedro Retreat center in Central Florida (12/18-12/20) and the other at our formation house in Minnesota (1/8-1/10). The come and see held at San Pedro was co-hosted by the Vocation Office of the Diocese of Orlando. Eleven persons attended (6 men and 5 woman). All had a wonderful experience and the majority will likely be following up on their "vocational stirrings." Thanks to the Friars at the Center and region who spent time with us at the meals, your presence was truly appreciated! One person on this retreat, Stephen R., has followed up with me and hopes to come for a visit to our formation house in February. The second come and see weekend was attended by Jason C. from Maine. He enjoyed the weekend as well and will be following up with us in the future. Please keep all the attendees of these retreats as well as Stephen and Jason in your prayers! Pat, TOR

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year, Beginning a New PhaseA

Hello Friars, Friends and Family members on this Day of the Baptism of the Lord,

I have told people all along that I am taking "baby steps" in my discernment of God's will for my vocation with the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular. Today I look back over the past year of living here at St. Bridget's Friary in Minneapolis and realize that those baby steps have gotten me quite a ways already. Oh, I'm still in the process of discerning, but that discernment has grown and deepened since 2006 when I started making my first phone calls and internet searches about living out a religious calling.
After filling out a vocations questionnaire I was contacted by a few different groups, but one stood out. St. Francis has always been an especially important saint to me, and I was attracted by the dedication to work with the poor and to live in community, together with other friars, and in the local neighborhoods of the world. Fr. Pat and I got a hold of each other and set up a time for me to get to know the TOR Franciscan friars of the Immaculate Conception Province. In 2008 I came to Minneapolis three separate times to visit, getting to know the friars and the Twin Cities, and observing their involvement in North Minneapolis. More and more I was attracted to the life of prayer and service. After many interviews and prayer I decided to move here as an Aspirant in January 2009.
That was a scary step to take, moving away from my family and friends in Portland, Oregon and concentrating my discernment on one group, but I felt called to leave my comfort zone and step out in faith. Besides, it wasn't a commitment for the rest of my life, yet.
Living here through the spring and summer I got to know the friars much better, integrated myself into the rhythms of the house and the ministries of the church. I found a job working with people living with developmental disabilities and I started some volunteer work here in the Twin Cities. I got to spend time with Christopher and Matthew during their postulancy and to see what it was like to be in formation. I attended some of their classes and experienced the joy of community at prayer and at table. After they went to Pennsylvania for novitiate, Br. Jeffrey moved back and I have enjoyed learning more about his novitiate experience.
Before I knew it, it was August and the postulancy program was upon me. I took a trip back home to visit, both as a way to say "good-bye" again, and to test myself to see if I really wanted to let go of the life of independence, and embrace a life of inter-dependence with this community. I became a Postulant on August 25th, the Feast of St. Louis, after returning to Minneapolis with a new sense of commitment. I began classes with the friars and started at the community college, studying to improve my availability for ministries later on.
There have been ups and downs - mostly ups - in this process. Around the holidays I started to feel some pangs of homesickness, and was informed that many postulants return home for the holidays, but my work schedule would not allow it. I stuck it out and found the support and fellowship of community sustained me and fed me. I not only have a new sense of family, I have an enlarged family, which now includes the friars here.
This last week we traveled to Washington, DC on retreat where I met the men that I will be in novitiate with after postulancy ends in May. I discovered the richness of the order as I met friars from the Sacred Heart Province and saw friars in our motherhouse in Pennsylvania. The family just gets bigger. I am getting more and more excited about the community as I see it cooperate with others in ministry and service. That's what I wanted out of a community, fellowship and cooperation in meeting common goals.
This year of 2010 I embark on another stage of the process. I have decided to work less as an employee and that will free me up to be present with the activities of the friary, and to ministry. I am looking forward to another retreat in the spring to Pennsylvania to reconnect with my new-found brothers there, and to take more steps toward novitiate. Little by little I am moving along. For me, I needed to focus on the baby steps, because it is important to stay present with God through each phase of my discernment process. The idea that I would drop everything and live forever with a rule in a new community would have been unrealistic. There are challenges to grow along ever step of the way. Each day there is an opportunity to let go a little more of my self, and to find myself a little more in community.

May you find yourself ever more in God's plan of love and grace,
Corey Smoot, postulant, Franciscan Friars, TOR