On the Move

This week's reflection is written by
Mr. Joseph McDaniel, OSFS, seminarian.

Tomorrow evening, the Fr. Louis Brisson Oblate Community at Father Judge High School will be gathering with Oblate and lay friends and colleagues to celebrate over 60 years in residence at the school, and to anticipate their upcoming move from the current faculty house. At the beginning of the new school year in the fall, Oblates will continue to faithfully serve at Father Judge and various other apostolates in Northeast Philadelphia, but will be taking up a new residence at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Philadelphia.

Moving is never an easy task. It involves the time and mental energy spent taking an inventory of an array of items large and small, from desks and bookshelves to books and mementos. It demands the physical labor of packing boxes and hauling furniture. Perhaps most significantly, it involves the willingness to let go of the sense of familiarity, comfort, and stability gained by walking the same corridors, opening the same doors, and sitting at the same tables.

These challenges also call forth a response of courage to jump into a new environment. Moving can be an opportunity to shake old dust off of one's feet and tread fresh ground. When undertaken collectively, it allows people to share the excitement of an adventure that has not been undertaken before. It provides a moment to reflect upon the true foundation of our community life, which lies not in concrete and rebar, but in the relationships we share with each other and with God. 

When addressing a group of Visitation sisters who were about to embark upon a move to found a new monastery, Francis de Sales famously quipped, "Those who go, stay; those who stay, go." He was articulating that the mission of the community and the strength of their common bond was not dependent upon physical proximity or staying in the same location, but on a connectedness with each other that arose from their heartfelt commitment to their way of life.

This assurance was the basis of a freedom of spirit that would animate the Visitation sisters and later the young Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, who zealously ventured from their familiar surroundings in Europe and began an apostolate in the United States that has bloomed for over a century. 

As our confreres in Northeast Philadelphia complete their housing transition, let us hold them in prayer that this move may be an occasion for them to engage in their common life together and apostolate at Fr. Judge and other places in Philadelphia with renewed vigor. May we also pray that we have a similar freedom of heart to respond whenever God calls us to make moves in our own lives.