Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Live from Loyola U.

I'm writing this post from Loyola University Chicago, where Ben, Mike and I are staying for the middle portion of a week-long "vocation tour" of Chicagoland. Since it's been nearly a week since my last post - and a busy week at that - it can safely be said that I have a lot to report on.

Last Friday the primi wrapped up our teaching experiment at La Salette. I had a great time and will miss the kids, many of whom lamented the fact that as soon as they feel like they're really getting to know the novices we have to leave them. I look forward to visiting my seventh-grade class when I return to Berkley in May, at which time I'll hopefully have some special item from Santa Clara to present to them as a souvenir.

Transitions tend to be rapid in the novitiate, and the shift from teaching at La Salette to touring the province to promote vocations was no exception. On Saturday morning, Ben, Mike and I left Loyola House for the drive to Chicago; at the same time, the rest of the Chi-Prov novices set out for Cincinnati - because of numbers, they decided to divide the class into two groups - and the Detroit guys headed for Cleveland. On the way to Chi-town, we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the Henri de Lubac House Jesuit community in Granger, Indiana and stopped at Notre Dame to visit Mike's cousins. Being back in South Bend for the first time since my law school graduation was fun, but we really didn't spend enough time there for me to get the elusive ND fix I've sometimes found myself craving in the novitiate.

From Saturday night through today we were based at lovely Loyola Academy in suburban Wilmette, an outstanding high school with a friendly and welcoming Jesuit community (which currently includes Loyola House's own second-year novice Eric Sundrup, there for a few months on Short Experiment). Sunday morning found us attending Mass at Northwestern University's Sheil Catholic Center, which is run by the Archdiocese of Chicago but has a notable Jesuit presence thanks to a number of Ours who often preside at weekend liturgies there. On Monday my confreres and I worked hard all day giving vocation talks to classes at the Academy and having dinner with selected students (senior boys regarded as particularly promising vocation prospects by the faculty) at the Jesuit residence. The freshmen, juniors and seniors we spoke with showed great interest in our stories and asked great questions; my favorite classes were probably the two sections of freshman religion I spoke with, in large part because they asked eminently practical nuts-and-bolts questions like "What do you do for fun?" and "Are you allowed to have your own car?" A frosh also asked my favorite question of the day, one I set myself up for talking about my Massachusetts roots in my presentation: "Did everyone go nuts when the Red Sox won [the World Series]?" The answer, of course, was yes. I followed up by saying that, while I remain a Red Sox fan, I've also begun to root for the Cubs - I had an easy time doing so, I told the class, since their hometown team picked up Nomar. This provoked much merriment among the students, and if it piques their interest in religious vocations even slightly I'll feel that I've done my job.

Today was something of a free day; after giving a final vocation talk in Father Bob Ytsen's English class at the Academy this morning, Ben, Mike and I headed to the province office for a tour and a yummy lunch with the vocation director at the Four Farthings Tavern & Grill. Afterward, we visited Loyola University Chicago's downtown Water Tower Campus, walked the Magnificent Mile and took a peek at the curiously small and minimalistically if intriguingly-furnished Holy Name Cathedral. This thoroughly enjoyable tour left us exhausted, and we thankfully had time to rest before dinner at the Academy and a drive to our new lodgings at the university campus. So far, the vocation tour has been a lot of fun and, God willing, it will likely continue to be so. Expect another report later in the week. AMDG.


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