Our journey really began at the Westmont Community where six of us stayed overnight on Wednesday, January 2. That way, we could get an early start on Thursday morning. Mark, Matt, and Sam had driven down from the Twin Cities and Michael had flown in to Chicago from Yakima, his home. A special thanks to Brother Rob Veselsky, Director, for all the hospitality at Westmont.
Our destination Thursday was Pittsburgh, about an eight-hour drive. We arrived at Central Catholic right on time for dinner after a bit of rush-hour traffic. The CC Brothers were very gracious. After dinner, Brothers Tony Baginski and Bobby Schaefer gave us a tour of Pittsburgh. It was a chilly night, but the view from Mount Washington was superb. Thanks to all the Brothers and especially Director Ben Oliver for the warm welcome.
On Friday we crossed Pennsylvania and arrived at Jeremy House in Philadelphia early afternoon. The retreat, coordinated by Brother Len Rhoades began with mass in the community at 5:00pm. Malik, a DENA Contact joined us for the weekend, along with Bro. Jim Dries, DENA Vocation Director. Our time together was a combination of prayer, presentations, meals, and down time to reflect and rest. As ususal, Brothers Rich, Hugh, and Brian from Jeremy House were wonderful hosts.
Sam Olsem (Fulda, MN) says this about the experience: “I was really impressed with how smoothly the weekend went. All the brothers were very accommodating, and I was, yet again, impressed by the amount of hospitality always found in a brothers community. It was helpful for me to be able to see the inner workings of Jeremy House especially, having visited only briefly in the past. I enjoyed getting to hear some of the brothers’ journey stories, as well as ask some questions I was able to have answered clearly. Overall, it was a great trip, and I’m glad that I came.”
Michael Phipps (Yakima, WA) adds: “The experience was great in that it reinforced my respect and zeal for the Lasallian mission. Having the opportunity to see a number of brothers I had met and interacted with in the past was an inspiring experience, as usual. The time spent reflecting on my personal vocation journey as well as listening to the vocation stories of a number of the brothers present breathed new life into my life journey in the Lasallian world.”
Mark Kociemba, (Hopkins, MN) shares this about his experience: “Being new to the contact program, the trip allowed me to explore my call to the Christian Brothers. The opportunity to experience life in a community was worth the trip. It brought a new prospective to what life is like as a brother.”
Matt Lehman (Minneapolis): “This weekend gave me a lot to chew on as I decide whether the life of a Brother is the life for me. I am thankful for experiencing the same generous hospitality and delicious food with the Brothers on our journey that I’ve grown used to in my home community with the Brothers at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis.”
Brother Stephen Markham organized our road trip which totaled about 1600 miles. The road trip provided lots of time to get to know one another. That’s one of the reasons I came on this trip. It gave me an opportunity to get to know these four Contacts and see how they interact with one another and the Brothers they met along the way. The theme of journey and call came up repeatedly, so being on this actual “journey” together seemed very apropos.
A special thanks to Mark, Matt, Michael, and Sam for participating so wholeheartedly in this January journey. Let’s keep all of our young men discerning a call to become a Christian Brother in our prayers.
Live Jesus in our hearts—Forever!
-Bro. Larry Schatz