Friday, October 19, 2007

Visiting the Friars at a "Live-In Retreat" Weekend

Last weekend, 12-14 October, four men from various parts of the country gathered at St. Joseph Friary in Chicago, IL to visit the Franciscan friars of the Assumption BVM Province and learn who we are and what we do.

From Dallas, TX, Grand Rapids, MI, Milwaukee, WI and even Chicago, IL, they traveled to the Inter-provincial Post-novitiate Formation house located in the heart of the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. It is located just a few blocks from both Catholic Theological Union (CTU) and the University of Chicago.

Fr. Joachim (Kim) Studwell, OFM with Greg Hendricks of Michigan and Andrew Gill of Texas at "The Port Ministries", Chicago, IL

Fr. Bernard Kennedy, OFM, Bro. David Kelly, OFM and Bro. Tommy Mandello, OFM offered their guests superb hospitality and refreshment. The friars began on Friday night by sharing their respective vocation stories -- how God called them in rather ordinary lives to become friars minor. The community's postulant from Milwaukee, Galen Osby, also joined the men on their "Live-In Retreat" weekend. Fr. Joachim (Kim) Studwell, OFM, Vocation Director for the province, led the weekend retreat.

Early the next morning they headed to the novitiate, San Damiano Friary, in Cedar Lake, IN for morning prayer, Mass and breakfast. Fr. Ed Tlucek, OFM, the Novice Director, gave them a rather thorough introduction to the year-long living experience of the novitiate. Then they visited another friary very close by, Lourdes Friary, and were treated to a delicious lunch.

Once they returned to Chicago, the group visited "The Port" ministries in another neighborhood on Chicago's South Side, Back of the Yards, among the very poor. David Krug, SFO (Secular Franciscan Order) guided us on a tour of the facilities and discussion about the various ministries.

Matthew Brophy of Wisconsin, Fr. Kim Studwell, OFM and Andrew Gill of Texas at "The Port Ministries", Chicago, IL

After a bit of a rest, we went to the famous "Connie's Pizza" for supper and met up with Bro. Craig Wilking, OFM, who later on shared his unique vocation story and current ministry as a nurse among the indigent and homeless poor on Chicago's North Side.

Later that night, Fr. Kim met with the retreatants individually to review their experiences and their perspective of the retreat and particular vocation discernment.

Finally, on Sunday, we traveled to Whiting, IN, to St. Mary Assumption Byzantine Catholic Church for Divine Liturgy (Ruthenian), since the province is bi-ritual (Roman and Byzantine Rites). After brunch, we returned to St. Joseph Friary for wrap-up, evaluations and concluding prayer in the chapel.

It was a good experience retreat. This is not a "theory" retreat, but an opportunity to go and visit the friars, meet them, and if possible see where the serve God's People. We welcome others who would like to investigate our community and "Live-In" with the friars for a weekend.

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