Well, I survived the storm. And the profession of Solemn Vows. It was a very eventful weekend, to say the least, one that will certainly not be forgotten easily. What was supposed to be a full weekend to begin with, Saturday marking the big celebration of the profession of Solemn Vows in the Order of Friars Minor by me and my classmate, Br. Steve DeWitt, turned into a historic weekend that affected the entire Eastern Seaboard of the United States. For the first time ever New York City shut its public transportation system down… right in the middle of the scheduled liturgy of Solemn Profession. Parts of the city were evacuated, many people originally planning to attend the celebration from around the area and country were stuck or unable to come, and what was supposed to be a time for our families and friends who did come to relax and enjoy the day turned into an anxious effort to leave the City as soon as possible after the Mass.
But in the end, it was a beautiful thing and the effects of the Hurricane — both in Washington, DC, where I now live and in NYC where the profession took place — were much less disastrous than anticipated.
I am grateful for so many things this morning. The first is this way of life to which God has called me. The Franciscan friars, imperfect as all humans of any cohort are, nevertheless remain those with whom I best relate. From the time I was in college, I came to more and more an appreciation for the rich charism, history, spirituality and life that those who strive to follow in the footprints of St. Francis of Assisi live in little and big ways daily. Yesterday I made the final commitment to continue this way of life and I am grateful to God and the Franciscan community for that reality.
I am grateful for my family, brother friars and friends who really ventured into “harms way,” particularly as it was portrayed in the news, to share in this special day with me.
My immediate family arrived as planned on Friday and I had a wonderful time with them as we did some sight-seeing on what was a beautiful day (talk about “calm before the storm”). That evening my brother’s girlfriend arrived into town by bus from Syracuse, NY, and we all went out to dinner, which was a lot of fun. The waitress asked why we were in town despite the hurricane. After my mom explained that I was professing my solemn vows as a Franciscan, eliciting a puzzled response by the server, my brothers and I decided that we’d shorten and “paraphrase” our response in the future to: “we’re in town for a wedding.” We got a kick out of that.
I was absolutely floored by the number of friars who turned up — from Albany, Boston, New Jersey, Wilmington, Washington DC and around New York City. The number of my brother friars who were present was close to some of the professions and ordinations of years past, which showed me the commitment to celebrating this joyful occasion and what it means for the collective life of the community in their willingness to come. Of course, there were many who were not able or chose not to come because of the weather. I was of course saddened by their absence, but understood the conditions that made such an absence sensible.
The number of friends who ventured up interstate 95 from Washington, DC and down from uptown Manhattan was really heartening. I am so thankful for their support and willingness to celebrate this day with me and Steve and to do so when they certainly could have said the weather was too threatening to travel. Fortunately, all traveled there and back safely.
I am grateful for so much more too as I begin this week and the celebrations and excitement continues. Today is the first day of classes for those studying graduate theology at the Washington Theological Union. And, as if this week hasn’t been jam-packed enough yet, Saturday is my Diaconate Ordination. I am grateful for all your continued prayerful support.
After an earthquake and hurricane in one week, I pray that this week passes without further incident.
Peace and all good!
For additional reflections on the day by friars and others who attended the Solemn Profession, check out HNP Postulant Casey Cole’s “A Glimpse of the ‘Finish Line‘” and Br. Jim McIntosh’s “Solemn Vows 2011.“