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Monday, April 25, 2011

Crossing over to risen life

As has been my experience every Easter since being ordained in 1978, Jesus comes out of the tomb just in time for me to go in and get some shut-eye. This year was no exception, what with our vocation retreat, holy week services at the Knoll and my regular Masses at the Korean church in Queens, I was dead tired. Now that I have rested up and have risen from the dead, a report is in order.

I and many Maryknollers I spoke with were impressed with the high calibre of the 13 young men who came to spend the Triduum with us and learn about Maryknoll and our mission work. And like the Society they are checking out, the retreatants came in different colors, categories and convictions. A young priest from Fr. Benedict Groeschel's Franciscans of the Renewal, who worked in Southern Sudan and is applying to join our Associate program, seemed right at home with us. Two other guys got into lively debate at supper over taxes and government spending (sign 'em up!) and seven of them played kick-ass volleyball.

Following the movie "Of Gods and Men" about the true-life drama surrounding the Trappist community's gut-wrenching discernment to stay in Algeria in the 1990s which ultimately led to their martyrdom, one prospect expressed some disappointment our Maryknoll community in Juarez would "abandon the people there" to the violent situation by closing that mission. Not having been part of that decision-making process, I simply stated that each Maryknoller has to decide for himself what is best. But he would have none of it. His feeling was that without guys willing to take risks for Christ, young men like him will not be attracted to overseas mission and Maryknoll's future is "dim", to quote how one resident at St. T's put it. I countered that Maryknoll's main purpose is not its own survival, but rather announcing the reign of God. As long as we are doing that, whether we go out of existence through attrition or martyrdom, is inconsequential. All seemed to be in agreement on that. If Maryknollers are true to the Gospel, new members will come.

One young man from the Korean parish is inclined to join Maryknoll but wisely wants to experience mission first. His plan is to go to college for a year, then take some time off to explore a short-term volunteer program with Maryknoll overseas to help him discern. If he gets "bit by the mission bug" he may consider applying to the Society.

Later, up in the Third Floor Rec Room following the Easter vigil service, while six guys played Monopoly, Fr. Dave LaBuda, from the vocations team, spoke with me about an effort by five Society members to enter into a conversation in Chicago with Fr. Ed Dougherty, superior general, and somehow dissuade or convince him not to send the dreaded Second Letter to Fr. Roy Bourgeois, which would set in motion the final 15 day deadline till the Third Letter of dismissal from the Society and appeal to Rome for laicization.

Dave was quite candid in thinking there wasn't really much wiggle room. Roy deliberately painted Maryknoll leadership into a corner, and as long as we want to keep that Catholic portion of our C.F.M.S.A. title, Doc has little choice but to blast a whole in that corner. Just what is the status of that Second Letter. Dave didn't know. The retreatants who listened to our discussion, in fact, hadn't even heard about Roy or this recent piece of drama and, when brought up to speed on developments, seemed to side with Doc.

Life and death issues during Holy Week. Appropriate enough. A blessed Easter to all. Click on the Alleluia YouTube entry above on the right. The third installment of a video meditation on our Maryknoll Centennial Missa ad Gentes, by Michael Joncas.

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