Two meetings in the last days neatly captures what's the buzz in the dining room. A meeting of about six men with Fr. Jim Madden (Happy Belated Birthday, btw!) brought us up-to-date (if not up-to-speed) on recent developments in the vocation department.
Of note: after three years with the "Explore My Mission" video contest that sent first-place winners to Brazil, Tanzania and Hong Kong/Korea respectively, the vocation team has decided to discontinue this effort. Whether we will follow through on a recommendation by Mr. Sam Alzheimer, president of Vianney Vocations, to facilitate sending young people overseas on mission, who return to help other young people raise their own mission funds, remains to be seen.
Similarly we have seen our last Mission Encounter here at the end of July, when men and women interested in the three Maryknoll entities come together for discussion and prayer. In it's place, there will be various gatherings around the country to make it easier for people in the South, Midwest, and west coast to attend. Thus, there will still be something here, but it probably won't draw 40+ people, or if it does, they will be coming from local states.
We all admitted to a bit of techno-whiplash as we learned that for many young people today, even websites as being sooo last millennium. Forget email. They Tweet. And they're on Facebook. And Tumblr. Of course, these are just modern developments of media. For our part, we have to make sure we have a compelling message.
And to that end, the fourth meeting of Common Table brought together 18 members to discuss our vision for mission today and in the future. I found the energy level continues to be high and similar themes arose from the smaller groups: a need for on-going personal renewal through prayer and spirituality; a recognition that "retired" is almost as meaningless as "former" since mission is a state of heart as well as mind, and that the spirit of Vatican II must begin in us if it is to continue in our church. Perhaps our mission may be to span the generational, cultural or theological divide separating us from our fellow Maryknollers.
The sudden death of Br. Jude Conniff earlier today certainly took us all by surprise. He was a gentle, optimistic, hospitable and kind missioner. His wake will be held here next Monday night, and funeral on Tuesday morning. Would that he can from his place among the saints, stir up many young men like him to join our mission efforts and our Society!