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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Teachable moment

AS MIGHT BE EXPECTED with a group of 60+ teenagers on retreat, all our warnings and threats notwithstanding, some students at 1:30 a.m. made noise enough to disturb the sleep of Maryknollers (me being one of them, but more of that later) that warranted a call to the main desk and a call to the teachers to go reprimand the late night revelers.

This morning I explained to the sleep-deprived masses the complexity of their transgression: our student group is unusually large. Inability to maintain discipline irritates already cranky residents who now have a reason to complain and next thing you know, WHAM, no more retreats here at Maryknoll. No other retreat house can accommodate our large numbers, so we would have to severely restrict who went on retreat in the future.

That class in Guilt 101 all seminarians take came in handy and did the trick. The question remained: what would be an appropriate penance? This, I must confess, can only be the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: during lunch, have the contrite offenders go from table to table of Maryknollers and apologize for making so much noise last night. Now, chances are the Maryknoller(s) who complained might have already eaten and left before this circuit confessional ran its course, but I assured the kids, the Maryknoll grapevine being what it is, all in the building would soon be abuzz.

And so it was. First a group of freshman boys and then girls went around the dining room, bowed, and apologized to the Maryknollers. Even I was impressed. And for once our conversations did not revolve around medical procedures or sports. And it lightened the mood to the extent that the men and students continued in conversation; at least one Maryknoller even inviting them back soon.

Br. Marty Shea, however, captured the true Maryknoll spirit IMHO. He then went around to the Korean tables and apologized for the noisy Maryknollers at the other side of the dining room!

As for me, I was miffed because during the night I kept hearing slamming doors. I got up, dressed, and knocked on a recently closed door. I read the students a mini riot act and was going back to my room when I heard loud conversation coming from another room. I knocked and said, "Come on guys! It's 1:30. Knock it off!" To my chagrin, the door opened and a middle-aged man apologized profusely. It was Fr. Bill Frazier's nephew, Steve, visiting from St. Louis.

We all had a good laugh about this today and, for now at least, the spirit of hospitality endures because the kids owned up to their indiscretions.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking as a cranky Maryknoller, the formal apology was a classy move on the part of the young people from St. Paul's. Good for them! And the bit about Frazier's nephew is classic!

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