UP Vocations Night: Page Ribbons and Ice Cream

Author: Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Fr Jim Lies, CSC with a couple of University of Portland students

Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C., the executive assistant to the President at the University of Portland as well as our vocations point man on that campus, filed this report for us about a recent vocations event at UP.  The Spirit is really moving in our CSC community out there.

Last week, the Holy Cross community at the University of Portland hosted nine of our undergraduate men to join us for evening prayer and dinner.  The idea for this event began about a year ago.  As the community discussed ways to assist people discerning a vocation, we realized the importance of showing people what our lives really look like.  Many of our students see us in our public ministries—in the classroom, administration and the halls at the University—but we realized that they do not see the other aspects of our religious life.  Common prayer and common table are central parts of the day for Holy Cross religious, and we wanted to invite people to share in this experience.

Fr Mark Ghyselinck, CSC with a University of Portland family

Tuesday, February 22, was the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a celebration of the unity of the Catholic Church.  Unfortunately, this also meant a number of page flips for evening prayer.  The psalms are found in one section of the book, the “propers” (proper prayers for the day) in another, and the Magnificat and the opening hymn in two other parts of the book.  Many of the men who joined us were not as familiar with praying the Office, so we tried to intersperse Holy Cross religious with our guests.  It was a great sight to watch as men who had been praying the office for literally 50-60 years helped out those who were just beginning to learn this form of prayer. 

After evening prayer concluded with a blessing and sign of peace, the group headed over to the Holy Cross dining room for dinner.  We had some brief introductions, grace, and then the meal.  The tables were a mix of Holy Cross religious and our guests.  The students enjoyed getting to meet such a wide cross-section of the community.  Whether they were sitting next to the president of the University, a retired psychology professor, or a former pastor, our visitors began to get a sense of the diversity of work and personalities in Holy Cross; but also saw how this time of common prayer and table brings the community together.

While I knew that our students enjoyed spending an evening with the community, I came to realize how important this time was for those of us in Holy Cross.  Getting to pray and eat with young men who are discerning God’s will, and seeing how God was moving in their lives, was a great witness to those of us who did the same thing 10, 20, even 60 years before.  It helped us see that there is a next generation of men who will be coming into religious life to take up the mantle carried by so many before them.  The faith and zeal of these young men reminded those of us in Holy Cross of the zeal and the faith of generations of Holy Cross religious.

Fr Gary Chamberland, CSC, Director of Campus Ministry at University of Portland

I think my favorite memory from last week is the image of one of the older members of Holy Cross walking over to the ice cream case with one of our students.  Something about them walking side-by-side, sharing stories and laughing as they went to get a bowl of ice cream helped me to realize what discerning a vocation is about: learning about the life; trying it on; and, ultimately, listening to God in the process. 

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