Looking back at 2017 with gratitude

As 2018 starts, I want to look at the four things for which I was grateful during 2017.

monstrance
Father Shawn holds the monstrance in the novice chapel at St. Clement Eucharist Shrine on April 25, 2017.

Novitiate

Has it been almost five months since novitiate ended?  As I had mentioned before, novitiate is a period in which the religious prospect dives more deeply into the religious order’s spirituality and builds a stronger bonds with his fellow novices.  Numerous graces of healing and growth occurred inside and outside set prayer times.  It has gotten better to see God’s providential hands in all things.  I appreciated the Oblate charism of bringing people to encounter the merciful Jesus through the Spiritual Exercises, the Confessional and communications.  What niche is God asking me to fill in this Oblate charism?  Hopefully, as I continue to grow, I would move closer to Jesus and help other people do the same.

first profession
Me in my new habit at the Profession of First Vows at St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston on Saturday, Aug. 5, 2017.

Vows

On Aug. 5, I made my first vows as an Oblate of the Virgin Mary.  I’m honored to live with these religious priests and brothers to grow closer to Jesus.  My desire here is to be a better brother inside the community.  Some days, it’s easy to wear the clerical shirt or religious habit.  Other days, not.  But Sister Therese Marie wrote to me: “As religious, we are not called to be undercover, but to be witnesses to God’s great love for us and for all of humanity, as well as our love for Him.  We don’t have to shout it, but we do have to live it both when convenient and inconvenient.”

New and old friends

I’m amazed how God brought various people into my life: the Sisters of Life during the 30-day retreat and the participants at the Pure in Heart meetings.  Old friends can pop again in texts and Christmas cards.  (An aside here: In 2017, I sent 78 Christmas cards: 52 mailed and 26 delivered by hand).  It was fun hanging out with my old elementary classmate Father James Kuroly at his parish in Rockaway Beach in the summer.

Help with lactose intolerance

One challenge I faced was lactose intolerance.  I’ll write about my many misadventures with this condition later.  But I’m grateful for the tips from other seminarians living with it.  The past few months, our cook has prepared dishes without any dairy.   I wouldn’t have asked for those special dishes without the persistence of my formators.  The help is out there.  One needs to take advantage of it.

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