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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Advent Day of Recollection

BISHOP ROBERT BRUCATO, retired auxiliary of New York, gave a one-day Advent reflection in Maryknoll's Lady Chapel. Brother Wayne Fitzpatrick, head of life-long formation, introduced the bishop who entered the seminary in 1949 and was ordained in 1957. He served at St. Ann's in Ossining from 1959~1960 when he began a decades-long chaplaincy in the military. He was ordained auxilary bishop in 1997. He was apostolic administrator following Cardinal O'Connor's death. He retired in 2007.

After failing to work out several kinks in the sound system, the bishop simply spoke louder.

He started with the gospel call of Simon, Andrew, James and John. The bishop posited the response of these men was not as immediate as the gospel implies. Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist. At John's direction, Andrew went to Jesus and then drew in his brother Simon. This time between initial contact and eventual discipleship the bishop referred to as a vocational incubation period.

It turns out Brucato's vocation journey started with Maryknoll Father Joe English. He said that convinced him that although he wanted to be a priest, he didn't want to be a Maryknoller. (That and the articles in the Field Afar which were interesting, but not enough to get him to leave his home diocese.) He also looked fondly back on the days when the seminarians at Maryknoll and Dunwoodie would challenge each other in basketball or baseball. (Hmm...maybe the guys at St. T's can challenge the retirees at Dunwoodie to extreme shuffleboard.) Interestingly enough, the military vicariate did indeed force him to leave New York and force Brucato to fields afar.

The bishop realized he wanted to be a parish priest and not an administrator.

The bishop also realized the main question wasn't where he served, but whom he served with. He suggested we reflect on our most rewarding or trying times had much to do with our colleagues and coworkers.

He quoted Pope John XXIII who said there are no longer three ages of life in the First World, young, middle and old. He said the pope was prophetic in that today people work way past what used to be retirement and many ministries in the church, eucharistic ministers, readers, are retirees.

So how do we work out our vocation now, in what is the final stage of life?

My personal view: while this topic is of utmost importance to us in Maryknoll, I'm afraid it will be lost because, truth be told, the bishop is such a low talker it is taxing for the men to stay tuned in. Pity.

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