For Love of Him – An Update on Life in the Novitiate

Br. Boniface Maria Conroy (front far left) with his fellow novices in the Province of Saint Joseph – Eastern Dominican Province.

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” -John 15:16

 

Dear Beloved Friends in Christ,

It has been many months since I last spoke to you, and I hope and pray that all of you are doing well as we approach the beginning of Lent. Know of my constant prayers for all of you, as it is though your generosity that I am able to live this life and hope to one day be a priest of Jesus Christ. The novitiate has been a grace-filled time, full of many joys and opportunities for growth, and I want to share a little of what our life is like and a small reflection on it.

Our life is structured around the praying of the Divine Office and Holy Mass. Generally, we gather four times a day to pray, immersing ourselves in the official prayer of the Church. Most of it is sung, and learning how to sing and chant the many rich musical traditions of the Dominican Order has been one of the unexpected surprises and joys of the novitiate.

One of my favorite moments was when all the novices went in a Eucharistic procession. It started with Mass in the local cathedral followed by a long walk with the monstrance. There was singing and chanting as we walked through the streets of Cincinnati, to the bewilderment of some the people going about their normal business. It ended with us entering a beautiful church, welcomed with bells pealing and organ resounding, followed by benediction.

Community life, learning how to live out the description, “The community of believers was of one heart and mind” (Acts 4:32) is also one of the great tasks of the novitiate. As one might expect, doing almost everything together creates its own set of challenges. But, amidst tension, there is also a great beauty to it, as you surrender more and more of yourself to the common good of the community, in doing so you find it greater than if you were an assortment of people doing their own thing. As a result one of my favorite moments of the day is the evening meal, where the priests and brothers come together to share a meal, like one big Dominican family.

Part of living the common life, is trying to strip away all that divides us from Christ. We come face to face with our own pettiness and weakness, which you can’t hide from in religious life. Often there is a temptation to approach our relationship with God as if we have something to prove, as if he loves us because we possessed some prior goodness apart from him. But that’s not how the love of God works, we are confusing human love and divine love. For humans, we love something or someone because it is good. God’s love is what makes something or someone good. As St. John says, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19).

Because of this we don’t need to hide ourselves for fear that our sins would somehow hinder the love of God for us. All our faults, no matter how petty or ingrained, will, by the grace of God, be consumed in fire of the crucified Christ.  This is the task of a religious: to offer one’s entire self to God for His sake.

I am going to close this reflection by my favorite quote from a quote from St. Boniface, from whom I take my religious name.

“Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For He is all-powerful and He tells us: My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Yours in Christ,

Br. Boniface Maria Conroy
Province of Saint Joseph- Eastern Dominican Province
Labouré Alum

 

Merry Christmas from St. Joseph’s Friary!


“Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people.” 
– Luke 2:10

Merry Christmas!
I am praying that this season finds you and your family well and persevering in any difficulties that may have come.

It has been a great joy to enter formation with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in New York City and to begin to experience this life in these last few months alongside my eight other brother postulants.

In our service to our neighbors at our little cafe as well as on our visits to our homeless brothers and sisters on the streets, we often witness their suffering, great and small. In the time spent with them, we are reminded, many times by the poor themselves, of the need to long for the continued coming of Jesus into our lives. And in our time of prayer, we get to see glimpses of the longing that Jesus has to come to us!

May this Christmas season bring to each of us a real grace to experience God with us – Emmanuel – who so desires to share in our joys and sufferings and to give us strength on the journey to our home in Heaven.

Thank you once again for your help in opening the door to religious life for my former Labouré classmates and myself, and for your continued support through your prayers.

Be sure of my prayers for you and your intentions, especially at our community Mass each morning!
God Bless,

Joseph Lynch
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Labouré Alum

 

The Adventure Begins – An Update from Zoe Lamborn

Ave! On the Blessed Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I began my life as a religious. I am in awe of the passage of time and Our Lord’s ability to work through every single moment.

These last few months at home have been challenging. I have had to say goodbye to many things: family, friends, possessions, books, etc. This detachment prepares my heart to begin living the simple life that comes with a vow of poverty (one of the three Vows I will take after my initial years of formation). While some things were very easy to get rid of, like my phone or old clothes, the evil one often tried to convince me that my life would be difficult if I did not leave behind various things in the safety of my parent’s attic.

Yet, as I sat in Adoration after attending daily Mass a couple of weeks ago, Jesus reminded me of the Pearl of Great Price. Where in finding my Pearl, I “went and sold all that [I] had and bought it.” Jesus is my Pearl. And when even that parable is not enough, He caresses me and says, “Beloved, do not be afraid of the Cross.” While I constantly had to remind Jesus that I am terrified of the Cross, I still continued to count down the days. Today is the day. I am no longer like the rich man afraid to give Jesus everything. I am still scared and vulnerable, and yet, how could I say no to the God-Man who has loved me so perfectly?

In Labouré, we are asked at the beginning of our class to invite a person in our lives to be our prayer partner. Someone to keep us afloat in prayer when we can’t quite stay above the surface. Over the last 27 days, my prayer partner, Morgan, and I have been hard at work praying a 54-day Rosary Novena for my family, for myself, and for all those who have gotten me to where I am today. My dear friends, that “where” is finally here, in my convent with my Jesus. You did that. You gave Him to me, in prayers, in financial support, in introductions, in hugs, in phone calls, in the Eucharist.

And so Our Love Story begins, unconventional, radical, supernatural. I usually love words and have read enough of them to be rather fluent in conversation, and yet, as I sit in the gratitude of you all, words fail me. Thank you for giving me the privilege of being a Sister. Thank you for entrusting me with this mission. Thank you for reminding me that I am worthy enough to be His.


Under Mary’s Mantle,

Zoe Lamborn
Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Wichita
Labouré Alum

 

Novitiate at Last!

Dear Friends,

With great joy I write to update you on my journey with the Brothers of St. John.

Lately, I have been reflecting on my journey so far, community life, and the role you have played in it, and this verse of scripture came to my mind: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

This truth is self-evident to us all, especially Christians as we form in our diversity the body of Christ. It is especially true for me. On the one hand your support sustains me on journey, urging me to continue on and reminding me that I am never alone. And on the other hand, sharing the life of the brothers of St. John during my postulancy has allowed me to learn much from each of them and grow spiritually.

In light of this, I am leaving for the house of formation of the community of St. John in Princeville, IL. This is to start the next step of my journey: the novitiate. This is the beginning of my formation properly speaking and this step will allow me to enter more fully into the charisma of the community and learn what it means to be a brother of St. John.

To allow for a full immersion in my formation, I will not have access to my cellphone nor the internet. This is a very important element in the formation, as it provides the adequate milieu for a growth in intimacy with Christ, and a greater discernment of the will of God for me. I humbly ask you to keep me in your prayers always as I do the same for you.

By the grace of God, many brothers across the world were ordained priests and deacons this summer! At our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Orange, New Jersey, Br. Bruno Thomas was ordained a priest and Br. John was ordained a deacon, as well as Br. Felipe de Jesus. They were all very influential in my discernment. Br. John, during my time as aspirant and Br. Bruno Thomas and Felipe de Jesus during my postulancy in Laredo, Tx. I beg you to keep them also in your prayers as well as all the other brothers ordained priests and deacons this year.

I assure you of my constant prayers,

Jean Clumson-Eklu
Congregation of Saint John
Labouré Alum

I Professed My First Vows! – An Update From Br. Joseph Cullen Hilliker, OP

Greetings,

It is hard to believe it has already been over a year and a half since I began working with all of you. I hope you all are well. I would like to share a brief update with you:

I entered the Dominican Friars of the Province of St. Albert the Great last summer as a novice in Denver. My time there was, in short, incredible. Truly, there is nowhere else I would rather be and nothing else I would rather be doing. On August 7th, I professed my simple (first) vows for two years; thanks be to God. Recently, I have moved to our house of studies in St. Louis, MO and I am now preparing for my first semester of study. I am very excited and ready to continue my spiritual growth here with my brothers in St. Louis.

There have been many fruits of Labouré during my time with the Dominicans thus far. Primarily, the community we share has been a beautiful gift to carry with me throughout formation. Hearing from many of you and praying for all of you is consoling, and it serves as a tangible reminder for me that we are all preaching the same Gospel in complementing ways. In other words, you are a great motivation for me to continue persevering in my formation for priesthood and religious life! So, keep doing your important work with Labouré, and I’ll try my best with the Dominicans, and together we will spread the same Good News of Jesus Christ!

I was a little suspicious when I was first told “fundraising is a ministry,” but now, I completely understand. You all are so wise! Maintaining relationships with our benefactors has brought me much joy, especially when they seek the counsel of a brother or reach out for prayer intentions. Who would have thought that asking strangers for money would evolve into such beautiful and lasting relationships? Certainly not me!

Finally, I’ve come to realize that my formation in religious life did not begin last summer when I joined the Dominicans. Rather, I think it began when I called to inquire about Labouré. From that conversation until my entrance date (and even until now), I learned a great deal from all of you regarding relationships, discipline, prayer, and self knowledge. All of these, and more, help me today to be a better brother.

I am overly grateful for all of you. Without your help in getting me here, all those souls I met this past year might not have been reached. We truly are doing this ministry together.

Above is a photo of myself and four brothers after our profession. The youthful man in the center served as my Novice Master and is now a great role model and Father for me (Rev. David Wright, OP).

Your Dominican brothers are praying for you!

With love,

Br. Joseph Cullen Hilliker, OP
Province of Saint Albert the Great – Central Dominican Province
Labouré Alum

Update from Bethany Convent- Alumni Update

Dear friends,

Peace in Christ! I apologize that it has taken me so long to send out this update. I hope to make up for it with great news and some pictures. All that God has blessed me with during this time has come about through your helping hands. God has provided that, through each one of you, I am no longer blocked by student loan debt and am fully free to devote my life to God with the Sisters of the Holy Cross!

Helping prepare for the blessing and consecration of St. Gabriel Monastery’s new church bells. When tolled and rung they become instruments of God’s power. Our faith and piety are made stronger when we hear their melodious peals!

Know that you have all been great instruments of God by presenting to Him one more little bride. I would not be standing in the court of my King, my Bridegroom, if it were not for your prayers and generosity. As I thank God for each one of you, I am pleased to think of how His gratitude far exceeds mine and how generous He desires to be in pouring out graces upon you!

I am also happy to tell you that today, on the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the sisters’ titular feast day, I have submitted my request to continue my formation with the Sisters of the Holy Cross as a postulant! Since entering in March I have been living with the community as an aspirant, or a candidate, as I become more acquainted with the life and spirituality of the sisters and they with me. God willing, if I am accepted as a postulant, I will more formally “move in” with the community and further my formation and discernment with the sisters.  And yes, postulants wear a habit! 🙂 It would be light gray without the scapular and veil. Please know of my continued prayers for you and how much all of you mean to me!

Mater Dolorosa, ora pro nobis!

In Christ through Mary,
Erin

New Year, New Joy! – An Update From Alumni Jeff Pooley

Dear Friends,

I hope this email finds you all well! I am about four weeks into my semester here in Denver and am really enjoying being back in Colorado. I had so many opportunities this summer to grow in a deeper love for the Lord. The word seminary is rooted in the Latin word Seminarium, this word means ‘planter bed’. This is so beautiful when we recognize that Jesus has sewn the seeds throughout my life and even during my summer break and I get to come back to school and to really allow them to grow here. This is what it is about to be a seminarian, allow the Lord to grow you as He desires.

 

Many of the Seminarians of the Diocese of Phoenix join Bishop Olmstead for a beautiful hike just North of Prescott

I am taking a full load this semester. My classes are:

Latin, Modern Philosophy, Philosophy of Nature and Science, Ethics, Intro to the Theology of St Thomas Aquinas, and Intro to Scriptures.

It’s going to be an interesting year to say the least! It is so good to back in the community of brothers, going home is a great joy. But you build such intentional relationships here that I always miss seeing my friends on a daily basis.

Please know of my continued prayers for all of you. I will continue to bring you before the Lord, in a constant thanksgiving for the generosity you have always shown me.

For the glory of His Sacred Heart,


Jeff Pooley,
Diocese of Phoenix,
Labouré Alum

Exciting News!

“For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
-Matthew 7:8

The sisters’ chapel in Fatima

Dear Friends,

Blessed Lent! I hope that you are finding much joy and great graces as we unite ourselves with Christ in the dry, barren desert during this Lenten season. I would like to express my deep gratitude for your prayers and financial support!  For it is through your generosity that God answers my prayers.  It was a great blessing for me to witness and share in the love that you have for God’s Kingdom in building up vocations in the Church.  Thank you!

In January we began a new 6-month fundraising class (Class 20) with a wonderful group of 21 aspirants. With this new class comes a lot of joy and exciting news! The Sisters of the Holy Cross have invited me to come live with the community while I continue to fundraise with Class 20.  I will be joining the sisters on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19th!  I give thanks to God that through your prayers and support this is possible! Although my entrance for formation is not official until the student loans are completely paid off, I am blessed to be more closely united with the sisters and begin my life within the community.

Labouré Class 20

I look forward to continuing my journey with you, the Labouré Society and the Sisters of the Holy Cross!

May God bless you!
United in prayers,

Erin Lyons
Sisters of the Holy Cross
Labouré Aspirant

Learn More About Class 20! 


“I made It!” – An Update From Austin Roy

Praised be Jesus Christ!

Greetings from the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration! I am so glad to be able to write you despite the contemplative and remote nature of this life. There is no internet connection here at the monastery. So, I am grateful to my mother who will be sending this newsletter out. I would like to thank you once again from the bottom of my heart for your incredible generosity that you have shown to Catholic vocations. It is because of your support that I am now on my way to becoming a Carthusian Monk.

After wrapping up my fundraising process with Labouré in July of last year, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of months with my family before heading to Vermont where the Charterhouse of the Transfiguration is located. September 12th was the day of my official entrance into the monastery. It was a day that I had been waiting for, for three years. On December 8th the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I was accepted to the stage of postulancy within the Order. The entrance ceremony was held in the monastery Charterhouse, a place of formal meetings of the community. It began with several scriptural passages that were read by the novices. I then sat while the Novice Master washed my feet in imitation of Christ. I was then led before the Prior and clothed in a long black cloak with a hood. The ceremony concluded with me kneeling before the community and reciting Psalm 87. Postulancy within the Carthusian Order usually lasts about one year.

As a postulant of the Order I will now wear the cloak as a habit during Mass and the recitation of the Divine Office in church. I will also begin to learn how to serve the Carthusian Rite of Mass for private Masses and family visits. However, regarding the daily life, very little has changed. My day normally consists of approximately eight hours of prayer plus daily Mass, two hours of study time, and an hour and a half of manual work. During my study period, I occupy most of my time with spiritual books such as biblical commentaries and other monastic works. For physical exercise, I spend time chopping wood each day to burn in my wood-burning stove located in my cell. Winters in the Vermont mountains can be severe with temperatures regularly dropping below zero or lower especially at night. The walk from my cell to the Night Office in church is always a brisk one especially on nights likes these.

Some of the highlights of my time here thus far have been our Opera Communia days (community work). There are normally four per year. During these days, all the monks (that are able) spend the whole day performing a needful task for the community. Since arriving, I have participated in two such days. On my first Opera Communia, we were tasked with clearing a large swath of trees on the mountain side to improve the view of one of our guesthouses. The second was held just before Christmas where we spent the whole day baking desserts for the community. Each monk can choose whatever he would like to bake. My pick was to make cookies and an Oreo ice cream desert.

Besides the Opera Comunia days, what I appreciate and value most in the Carthusian life is the freedom to dedicate myself entirely to a life of prayer. It was a love of prayer that first led me to consider a Carthusian vocation. In the charterhouse, a Carthusian Monk is free from all the distractions, the noise, and obligations of a life lived in the world, thus allowing him to focus his entire attention on communing with God. Through prayer and the accomplishment of his daily duties, the Carthusian learns to see God in all things. Through faith he recognizes and finds God exteriorly in each of his daily task and all the crosses sent to him by providence. It is in these that he sees God’s will for him. Whether pleasant or painful, he knows that it is God who is encountered.

In his daily life of prayer, the Carthusian strives always to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), taking as the heart of his vocation the words of Our Lord, “You ought always to pray” (Luke 18:1). He devotes himself to vocal prayer by the daily recitation of the Psalms contained in the Divine Office. In mental prayer he meditates on the Sacred Scriptures and other pious works, immersing himself in the life of Our Lord and the teachings of the saints. By the practice of silent prayer, the Carthusian seeks simply to remain in the presence of Our Lord or Our Lady within his interior. Through years of patient practice, it is this silent prayer that becomes constant throughout the day. Known as acquired recollection, he has before him a habitual remembrance of Our Lord or Our Lady. If through distraction he momentarily loses this remembrance, a simple inward glance suffices to recollect him. Through a life dedicated to prayer and the accomplishment of God’s will, the Carthusian hopes in time to attain to divine union. This “mystical marriage” between the soul and God is for the soul, a state of perfect union with the soul’s beloved. He experiences without interruption the presence of God within himself. It is only a “thin veil” that separates him from the eternity of the Beatific Vision, a veil that he ardently desires to be torn.

I would like to encourage all of you, if you have not already done so, to devote yourself to a serious life of prayer (as your state of life will allow). God does not only call priests and religious to the state of divine union, but all Catholics. If you are faithful to a life of prayer, to the duties of your state in life, and to the inspirations of God’s grace, He will raise you, just like the saints of the past, to divine union with Himself.

Once again, thank you so much for your support of Catholic vocations. Every day I entrust your prayers and intentions to our Blessed Mother, confident that she will supply all your needs. I pray that you have a holy and blessed New Year.

Ave Maria!

Austin Roy
Order of Carthusians
Labouré Alum

Learn more about the Carthusian Order at www.chartreux.org,and www.transfiguration.chartreux.org

 


Success Story: Sister Martha Victoria

Sister Martha Victoria After Professing her First Vows, June 20, 2020

 

 

Many blessings for your support of vocations and the Labouré Society.

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