Sunday, November 19, 2006

Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Yes. It's odd that I begin with a movie quote... and such an inane movie at that. However, I think this quote sums up the past 2 weeks fairly well.

Shall I tell you about the last 2 weeks?

It all started on Thursday November 9. This was day 1 of the annual Marianist Formation Weekend. As you may know, the Marianist family includes Marianist brothers & priests (the Society of Mary... SM), Marianist Sisters (the Daughters of Mary Immaculate... FMI) and lay Marianists. Each year the Marianists bring together all the people in formation with the SMs and the FMIs. On Thursday it was the pre-novices/aspirants, the novices and our directors. On Friday the temporary professed joined us with their directors. We were together until Sunday afternoon.

Our topic for conversation over the weekend was Mary. I know... it's a little broad. We focused on what we could learn from Scripture about the person of Mary and what that means for us as Marianists. You see, we are called "Marianists" because Mary is our model of discipleship. Also, who better to teach us to be more like Christ than the woman who raised him?

Needless to say, it was a great weekend - wonderful opportunities for reflection, but more than that, there were great conversations going on. Many of you know that I am the only person in formation with the FMIs. However, the SMs have 4 aspirants, 2 1st year novices, 3 2nd year novices, and 10 temporary professed. I always look forward to spending time with these brothers (and perhaps some are future priests). When we gather I have the opportunity to discuss the charism, what it's like to be new to Marianist life, and religious life in general with people who are peers. That's a great blessing and a grace.

So, Marianist Formation Weekend was Nov 9-12. Monday November 13 - Wednesday November 15 was the Inter-Community Novitiate Program. In the ICNP we are now 9 novices. We used to be 11, but two of the guys have since left their congregations. So, there are 7 women and 2 men.

Anyway, our topic of conversation? "Being Sexual and Celibate." Yep... you read that correctly. The speaker, Sr. Lynn Levo, is a psychologist who works at St. Luke's Institute on the east coast... a sort of "rehab" place for clergy and religious. Basically, it was a workshop about celibacy, but it was so much more than what you might think. We talked about maintaining healthy friendships (including the importance of having intimate friends - emotionally intimate, of course). That was a large part of one of our days together. However, we also talked about boundaries and abuse. I won't go into any more detail, but I will say that it was packed with good information and food for thought.

Let's see... that was over on Wednesday afternoon. That night Gret and I finally came back home... but only for a little over 24 hours... if that. Thursday the plans were being put together for the annual Religious Formation Conference (RFC), which started on Friday. Sr. Gretchen was on the local organizing committee.

Friday's gathering was just for people who work in formation (i.e. formation directors etc.). However, I was also busy on Friday. I had the great blessing of attending a talk by Sr. Sarah Sharkey, OP on the Lucan infancy narratives. We started promptly at 9:30am... took an hour for lunch and ended a little after 3:30pm. What a day that was! If any of you ever get to hear this Scripture scholar speak, I highly recommend it. She was so good. Not only was she engaging (and quite entertaining, really). She's also a solid scholar. I can always get into things like that.

That afternoon I joined Sr. Gretchen at Our Lady of the Lake University where she was finishing her 1st day of the RFC. Saturday, it was my turn....

RFC on Saturday was open to anyone in religious life who wished to be there. The SM aspirants were there, as were sisters, brothers and priests from all over Texas (this was a regional RFC - region 12... the national one was last year). There were some "blasts from the past" for me there as well. People I hadn't seen in years. The topic... wow... I can't remember the exact title. We did social analysis and discussed our call in response to environmental issues and immigration issues.

I have to be honest. I wasn't really "into" the conversations. Maybe my brain was on overload. Maybe I needed an introvert break. I'm not real sure, but Saturday was tough for me.

However, that evening, we had a short gathering of women religious under the age of 50. It's called "Giving Voice." That was good. It was actually more like an informational gathering. We discussed what topics we'd like to share on in the future and how often we might want to get together. What a great group of women! I look forward to many future gatherings with them.

So... today was a much needed day of rest. I slept in until 8am! That's a rarity! I should have cleaned my room today, but I didn't. What did I do this afternoon? I went on the hunt for good winter clothes. Why?? Well, I leave for Indianapolis and Dayton on November 30. When you've lived in Texas your whole life, going north during the winter is something for which one is not really prepared.

Thursday November 30th I fly to Indianapolis. My sister, brother-in-law and their 3 ADORABLE children live there. I will be there until Sunday afternoon. On Sunday afternoon Sr. Leanne will pick me up on her way back to Dayton (she'll be in Indiana for a conference). Sr. Leanne is one of our sisters who lives in Dayton. Anyway... I'll be in Dayton for 2 weeks. While there, I'll be able to attend classes with the 2 SM 1st year novices. That will be a great opportunity. It will also be good just to be with our Dayton sisters.

Then... and this could be the best part... I'm going on a week long SILENT retreat at the Trappist monestary in Kentucky - Gethsemini. How awesome is that?? Of course, the 2 novices, the SM novice director & assistant director, plus one of our sisters will be with me... which is great. But the part that I'm looking forward to more than anything is the silence.

So, I guess it's not hard to see what I'll be doing in the next week and a half... as we celebrate Thanksgiving. I'll be giving thanks for a wonderful first few months of novitiate and I'll be slowing down - thankfully! Don't get me wrong... it's been a great 2 weeks. But, I'm ready to resume "novitiate as normal." :)

Have a very blessed Thansgiving everyone!
With many prayers,
Sr. Nicole