From April 16 – 28 the fourteen junior From April 16 – 28 the fourteen junior
monks and nuns of the American Region (OCSO) met together for the Junior Seminar at
The Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. Sr. Anna O’Meara of Our Lady of the Mississippi, with a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Catholic University, presented a series of interactive conferences on the Incarnation. Dom Thomas Davis, former abbot of Our Lady of New Clairvaux, drawing on his own study and translation of our Cistercian fathers, offered a series of conferences on the Meditations of William of St Thierry.
In their written evaluations, juniors often mention these gatherings as a significant time to get to know other juniors, to share their own experiences of the monastic life and to get know the host communities more deeply.
On a day trip to Atlanta, we visited the Sisters of Charity who greeted us graciously and introduced us to the women they care for.
On Monday, April 9, the Feast of the Annunciation, Br. Emilio Rafael Garcia-Dolon made his solemn profession in the abbey church of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit.
Br. Emilio Rafael was born in Matanzas, Cuba, in 1974. Living in an officially atheist society, his decision to be baptized on April 3, 1988, is a courageous one. After his baptism, he was given access to the library of the Cathedral where he found the writings of St. Rafael Arnaiz Baron and was attracted to Trappist life. Since there were no Trappist monasteries in Cuba, he connected with Franciscans. When he came to Miami, he lived as part of a Franciscan community associated with the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity.
On his early visits to the monastery, Alain Garcia learned of our Br. Emilio Quiros, then in the infirmary. Emilio Quiros had also been born in Matanzas many years earlier. The two natives of Matanzas never met face to face because Br. Emilio Quiros died before Alain was able to visit again; however, he chose to take Emilio’s name when he entered the novitiate March 17, 2013. He entered Holy Spirit August 15, 2012, and made his 1st Profession March 22, 2015.
Br. Emilio Rafael had considered requesting to make his final vows on April 27, the feast of St. Rafael. However, Annunciation, transferred to April 9, was chosen. It was not until the reception after he made his solemn profession that he was reminded that April 9 was the birth date of St Rafael in 1911.
On Friday, February 9, our Br. Nathanael Felarca made his solemn profession in our Abbey Church. His six sisters and several brothers-in-law joined our monastic community and local friends for this special event.
Our community drew close to his sisters when they came to visit several years ago when Br. Nathanael was hospitalized after contracting Rocky Mountain spotted fever from a tick bite. He was in a coma for several weeks, receiving blood transfusions while his body healed. His sisters came in various combinations so that some were always with him.
After his solemn profession, his sisters treated the monastic community to a plentiful Filipino feast. We all had a joyous time.
Until we get some pictures of the profession itself, I am posting a picture of Br. Nathanael and his fellow novices. Nathanael is on the left of the picture.
Snow fell in Georgia last night. On our way to Vigils at 4:00 we could see the cloister garden was white with snow. Later in the day, the four juniors (monks who have made vows for a limited time) and the junior director went out to the cloister to take pictures in the snow. Several of our juniors will be making their solemn profession in the course of this year.
In the picture you can see, from left to right, Br. Philip, Br. Miguel, Br. Cassian (junior director), Br. Emilio Rafael, and Br. Nathanael. Br. Nathanael will making his solemn profession on Friday, February 9.
Our monks and nuns who have made simple vows (vows for a limited time) gather each year for a seminar. This is a great opportunity for monks and nuns from across the USA to get to know each other.
Because we are cloistered (living within the boundaries of the monastery) we have few opportunities to travel. This is one time that we travel to another monastery.
In this picture, on the left is Fr. Gerard-Jonas, a monk of Mepkin.
In the center is Sr. Mary Thérèse, a sister from Our Lady of the Mississippi.
Br. Emilio Rafael, who is second from the left, and Br. Philip, on the right, are both monks of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit.
Pope Francis currently lives in Rome.