Maryknoll Vocation Ministries is a service to the Maryknoll Society.
This blog aims to keep Maryknoll Formation Candidates and
Vocation Prospects abreast of discernment and Church issues.

July 14, 2012

Que Bueno!

In April I had the experience of going on a Holy Week retreat with Maryknoll. Que Bueno! It was great, and I am grateful for what it has shown me.  I was there with other men like me, discerning the call to religious life as a priest or a brother. We spent time with the Men of Marryknoll; there were many special events, times of prayer, and an amazing setting. We stayed in the Parish of Saint Patrick’s in an El Paso Texas town just about bordering Juarez Mexico, and the people were wonderful.

Spending time with the Men of Maryknoll is a very special thing. Over the week we did so much stuff together. Fr. Jim, Fr. Dave La Buda, Fr. Booth, Fr. Richard were the center of our days. I just can’t say enough about them. They are filled with knowledge and experience as Foreign Missioners, and are truly servants of God. It’s so inspiring! I found so much insight into what religious life as a brother or priest      (my calling is brother) will be like. We heard about their work in different missions and countries, ate with them, worshiped with them, laughed and socialized. I was looking to see a few things. Were they happy? How is their spirituality? What does Maryknoll mean to them as seasoned members of the society?  All of these things were good and great! I found myself admiring them, and the Society a lot.

Along with me, six other men in discernment were there. We had a really good group. I was a little unsure about going before I registered for the trip, but Fr. Booth reassured me that “there would be other men there just like me who didn’t know what they were doing too,” and he was right. Some of us had more experience in areas of discernment, a few wanted to be priests, a few brothers, and we ranged in age. The men were very respectful and supportive of each other’s discernment paths. I realized how many things I had similar with them, and heard how others were feeling called as well. I like to pray, and to me I always like to be with others who do too. This is the nicest thing. Since we stayed in the parish rectory, the chapel was always open to us with the Blessed Sacrament right there.  If you liked, you could go spend time and pray. We had our morning and evening prayers there together as a group.  This time together and alone for me was very special and good for listening to how God is speaking to me.

The setting was just about perfect. We were in a small little town just outside of where Juarez Mexico and the US almost crash into each other, called Canutillo in El Paso Texas. 3rd World and 1st World countries with a huge border fence -and there are the problems, and challenges, and need. We got to see it, and were welcomed into the community in this most special week of the year celebrating the Easter Triduum. Some masses were in English, some in Spanish, and much of the time people there spoke Spanish. There was always a special event, or dinner, or something going on. I did not know the Holy week is so big in Latin America, and the people can be so rich in faith. The Church is so important to the poor! They bring their struggles and sufferings right into the celebrations this week. I think most of us felt the Via Crucis was the climax, and it ended up a desert trail with the crosses back dropped against some mountains. A very Texas scene and the people did a really good job. This is a different way to do the Stations of the Cross, in real life, and it is profound. The people were so good to us. They welcomed us, they fed us, they invited us to their homes to visit. You can easily see how Maryknoll is known for inculturating into a place with the people, and how they are the reason to be there to help and serve them. I found much joy in being there, and my heart went out to the people.

Throughout the week the Maryknoll Fathers tended to the many needs of the parish, and the community too. The people arranged house calls for them to make, they did confessions, celebrated masses in both languages, and all while they juggled our group and retreat itinerary. They did this beautifully, and it showed us a little how they work and how God is working through them as Missioners. This Trip was such a good experience, I think we all agreed. It has really helped me in my discernment to become a brother in a religious society, and I am glad I took the time off and got out there.

Thank you Marryknoll!!

Aaron Clark
Los Altos, CA

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