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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not quite family

Former Maryknoll seminarian John Pahls read my post of Father Mike Duggan welcoming the new men with the quote from The Lion in Winter, "What family doesn't have its ups and downs?" While we like to consider ourselves the Maryknoll Family, his experience ---and alas others as well --- belie that phrase.

With his permission I post his two emails:


Dear Joe,

Sure, go ahead and post what I wrote. I didn’t run it by Casey or Matt yet can’t imagine they would have any problem mentioning their marriage bans. Ah Yes Fr. Joe, my final weeks with Maryknoll… Perhaps with all of us there are a few watershed moments over the course of our lives, marking times when things are altered forever. In my incarnation so far there was when I left home to join the army as a teenager in 1982, the day my Mom died in 1993, and December 19, 2006, the dismissal, was another such moment. Life really changed after that, not just Maryknoll but the whole relationship to the Church and sense of God.


Hey Joe V:

A blast from the past here----- it’s John Pahls the former seminarian that exited the society December 2006. Greetings. Howdy do.
Really like your blog. Think it was Matt Rutter sent me the address and I’d say at least once a week check in. You help me stay connected to what encompassed my life for 6 years. Thank you. You are a good writer! Particularly poignant was one posting concerning a vocation weekend you wrote something to the effect…”let’s hope these potential candidates pray, truly discern the Holy Sprit, yet join Maryknoll anyway. ;)----- I’m lovin’ it. That was rich.

Fr. Joe, as much as I enjoy your blog and read it, did want to chime in on your latest post, a recounting of Mike Duggan relaying to the current candidates how a family, as he referenced in the great Lion in Winter film will sometimes argue, harangue, etc.

I never was comfortable with the Maryknoll as family analogy often given to us as seminarians. A family may disagree, argue, discuss, etc. it is true. Yet I contend at the end of the day a family is still bound to one another, there being a connection at the core, hopefully a loving one. Yet in the society a formator evaluates, judges, writes up judgments and documentation, and at times contingent upon their personal wounds or struggles, may work behind the scenes to have a seminarian “dismissed” from the family. That was my experience, certainly. A family does not evaluate and dismiss its members, I contend. Therefore, a family analogy for those in permanent oath, yes. Yet Maryknoll as family for
someone in temporary oath, or not in oath at all, my experience did not prove this.

Anyway, again, I love your blog. After so many years in the society Maryknoll is still part of who I am, still pulls on me. Maybe stranger still if I did not read it.

Still keep in touch with 2 guys was in the seminary with, Casey Sterr and Matt Rutter (although when living together in 2002 Matt and I almost came to physical blows one night, you ever hear that one? We laugh about it now). The three of us are actually getting married within a 6 month time span. Matt and Tabatha earlier this August, Casey and Susanna September 25, and Saren and I, January 1. John McAuley are in touch as well, I visited him in Taipei in June.

Take care, Joe!

John Pahls

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