Monday, November 21, 2005

"Priests rock!"

The above words were spoken to me yesterday by a high school student who was apparently quite impressed to see a young man in clerics (namely me) at the gates of Fort Benning. The comment made my day, giving me the sense that the witness of my attire had done its bit for vocations. In a few other respects, I'd say that I got more of this SOA weekend than I did out of last year's. That's not to say that I didn't have a good experience last year, but this time around I ran into more people that I knew (mainly young Jesuits I met this summer in Denver) and in general felt more conscious of the fact that my participation in the weekend's events was part of my Jesuit vocation. Saturday night's Vigil Mass for the Feast of Christ the King was a palpably Ignatian event, with representatives of most of the country's Jesuit high schools and universities among the 3,000+ attendees and a powerful homily from Father John McGarry, the new provincial of the California Province. Broadly speaking, I'd say that what moved me the most about the weekend was seeing so many Jesuits and individuals formed in the Ignatian tradition brought together by mutual concern for social justice.

As for the trip from Detroit to Columbus and back, I can't really affirm that 'getting there is half the fun,' especially when getting there involves spending two nights out of three sleeping on a coach bus. As was the case with last year's trip, the Loyola House contingent traveled to Columbus with student groups from UDM and U of D Jesuit High School. When the sound on the bus' onboard DVD player obstinately refused to work, the UD High kids cleverly responded by reading aloud the subtitled dialogue of the movie being shown (Love Actually) and adding supplemental color commentary, all in creative - and hysterical - character voices (Laura Linney, for instance, was given the voice of Fran Drescher). I really have to thank these students for supplying entertainment that made what would otherwise have been a grueling travel experience into an enjoyable one. On the way back from Columbus, our group stopped briefly in Atlanta to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, which includes King's grave and the church he co-pastored with his father, Ebenezer Baptist. Afterward, we ate at the locally celebrated (and enormous) drive-in known as The Varsity. Special thanks are due to my brother novice (and Atlanta native) Tony Stephens and his mom and stepdad, who treated us to dinner. So there it is - another year, another SOA weekend. AMDG.


Post a Comment

<< Home