my los angeles trip (part one)

I traveled to LA this past week.  Six days was the longest time stretch away from Seattle since summer 2018.  It felt like the ultimate “vacation” for me.

I stayed two days with our Claretian community in Compton.  It was the original Dominguez family ranch that was willed to us in the the 1920s.  Whereas it served as our center for seminary training for decades, most of the men who live there now are in their twilight years.  Except for the two Nigerian Claretians in residence there, I have known the rest of these men since I had entered the community in 1988.  I think about the various shared experiences in ministry, formation and community with these men and I smile.  How much is not seen in their service over the years?  What remains a mystery to them?  Where has sin wounded them?  Now, they walk slowly and endure the physical pains from the years, praying, reading, thinking.  What do they reflect on?  Have they forgotten their family and loved ones?  Do they only know now their Claretian family?  What do they think about their last chapter of life at dominguez? Although I do not think about retirement and death often, I can imagine spending my later years here. I can imagine myself dying here someday.

I had a wonderful dinner with my friend, Claretian brother Paul Keller.  He is one of the most talented people I have known over the decades.  His mind, as sharp as a two edged sword.  He recounted his weeks in Rome representing our USA-Canada province at our General Chapter.  At these international gatherings, it is fascinating how we Claretians can come together with people we have never met but really see one another as brothers.  We have taken the same vows albeit we live them out in different languages and contexts.  But the commitment binds us together in a wonderfully mysterious way.  As Paul described the inner workings and dynamics that he saw in Rome, it affirms that we are very human in our words and actions: both holy and sinful.  Does not our discernment of God’s will for us have to embrace and consider our total humanity and our imperfections? The theme of the Chapter was: Rooted in Christ, Audacious in Mission.  I pray we can live up to this lofty ideal as we unpack what it means for us and how we will change according to the Spirit.

I spent a day with our community at the San Gabriel Mission.  I began growing in my ministerial faith at the Mission as the Youth Minister there from 1986-1988.  I discerned my vocation at this wonderful parish.  But in all my years as a Claretian, I have never served here– not even a summer seminarian stint!  I wonder if I might be assigned to San Gabriel after my time in Seattle.  Possibly.  I think at this point in my life, I would prefer to stay on the west coast.  But only God knows what and when my reassignment will be.  Lord, help me wait patiently!

I also had lunch with my dear friend Denise.  She has worked at St Therese parish in Alhambra for over thirty years and it is always good to catch up with her.  We were Claretian Lay volunteers together in 1986.   So the four of us as volunteers lived, prayed and worked together.  Being in community life as a lay person was a key piece of my vocational puzzle at the time.   Before that time,  I never thought that full time ministry was an option for me.  I learned and developed various gifts as well as more readily seen– usually in retrospect– my various faults and weaknesses. It was during this time that I began to put together the connections among love, justice, community, Eucharist and peace. It was during this time that I was introduced to the life of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker community and their good works and life.

I also spent a day with my aunt and cousin in Lake Elsinore.  She is my mother’s only living sister.  Although she has a hard time getting around, my aunt Remy has a sharp mind and memory at 96 years of age.  She loves sports and so we watched the Dodgers beat the Giants in the baseball playoffs.  We cheered LA on.  When I first moved to Anaheim in 1985, I stayed with her and the family til I found my own place and a job.  We watch many Laker games in the glory days of Magic, Kareem and Worthy!  So many happy sports moments plus the heartbreak moments when the Rockets beat the Lakers in 1986.  I cherish my visits with my aunt since there may not be many left.  She is the only sibling of my mother that came to the US.  Small families are what we know.

My next post will have more on my LA trip. Have a graced and wonder-filled day my friends

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