My Novitiate Experience
I entered the novitiate on August 14, 1998. I was 26 year old when I arrived at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau, Louisiana which is in the heart of Acadiana and strongly seasoned by the surrounding Cajun culture. I began studying The Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, Theology, and Jesuit Life. St. Charles College serves as home for the Jesuit novitiate and the Jesuit Spirituality Center. Outside of the classroom I had the opportunity to visit Hispanic detainees at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. In addition, I visited to some of the local elderly residents.
October 14 until November 13, 1998 was spent completing my 30 Day Silent Retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. After the retreat, I spent a week on pilgrimage at the St. Louis Abbey, a Benedictine monastery.
From November 25-29 and again on December 17-21, 1998 the novices hosted Discernment Retreats at Grand Coteau, Louisiana. If you are interested in more information about a Jesuit Vocation or in attending one of the discernment retreats please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and/or check out the New Orleans Province Vocation Events page.
From January 6 until March 6, 1999 I was in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas near McAllen for the first experiment. This time was dedicated to experiencing the apostolic life and serving the needs of the people in the Rio Grande Valley. Words can not begin to express the kindness extended by these wonderful people. I remain extremely grateful for their warmth, hospitality, and love.
From March 12 until April 28 I was in Houston, Texas on my second experiment. While there I lived and worked at the Houston Catholic Worker's Casa Juan Diego which provides shelter to the newly arriving immigrants. Casa Juan Diego is always in need of volunteers both short and long term. This is an incredible place to learn about the difficulty that many Hispanics encounter while trying to enter the United States. If you are interested please send an e-mail to Mark and Louise Zwick at email@example.com.
During the month of May I was at the novitiate in Grand Coteau. We had classes on the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus, vow discussions (on chastity), a dream workshop, and completed an 8-day silent retreat. On May 29 we left for two weeks of fun and sun in Elberta, Alabama near Pensacola, Florida.
On June 12, 1999 we attended the priestly ordination of Greg Waldrop in Mobile, Alabama. From June 21 until July 16 I was in Denver, Colorado studying Jesuit History at Regis University. The majority of the Jesuit novices of the U.S. Assistancy were in attendance and were frequently found playing volleyball, racquetball, or hiking when they were not in class. It was a great opportunity to get to know the novices and men that I will be working and studying with in the future.
After returning from Denver we worked on some major manualia (manual labor) before being sent home for a home visit to see family and friends. While home my sister got married! It was wonderful to be able to see my friends and family after being away for a year.
After returning to the novitiate, the second year novices (Mark Mossa, Tom Greene, and Ron Boudreaux) took vows and the torch was passed on to us as these fine men began their philosophy studies and we (myself, Colby Thomazin, Kurt Bindewald, and David Garnier) became the new second year novices.
On August 14, 1999 the new first year novices (David Nowaczewski, Glenn Bergeron, Anthony Wieck, and Derrick Weingartner) joined the novitiate community with a welcoming Mass and reception. After the first year men were initiated into novitiate life and were ready to begin the 30-day silent retreat of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, the second year novices were sent off on their high school experiments.
For my high school experiment I was sent to Tampa Jesuit High School where I was most warmly welcomed. While there I assisted in tutoring Algebra, Geometry, and Spanish. In addition I assisted in helping out with various retreats. When I was not in the classroom there was plenty of time for fun. I was able to attend a Tampa Bay Bucaneers football game, a Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey game, and Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba. My family and many friends were able to come over and visit.
After returning to the novitiate in Grand Coteau we hosted the 1999 Discernment Retreats for about 45 men. We celebrated Christmas, the New Millenium, and the annual formation gathering.
On January 7, 2000 I left for my long experiment (a period of 4 months usually outside of the country to experience and live in third world conditions) to Honduras. While in Honduras I worked in the town of El Progreso, Yoro helping out in the parish. Honduras is a beautiful country and on Easter I went to the Pulhapanzak Falls. On May 2, I returned to the novitiate bidding farewell to many dear friends in Honduras.
Upon my return from Honduras, I completed my annual 8-day silent retreat and enjoyed a couple of weeks in Alabama for R&R with my novitiate classmates. During the summer we enjoyed a workshop on Social Justice and had the opportunity to study Spanish. We also worked together to paint Arrupe Hall (the novitiate recreation room).
On August 15, 2000 I professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the main chapel at the novitiate in Grand Coteau. Many friends, family, and brother Jesuits were here to witness and support me in this important step in my Jesuit vocation.
After spending a week with family and friends in Florida I reported to St. Louis University to begin my philosophy studies.