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Reflection: An Itinerant Vocation

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While Javier (top row, fourth from left) was in Mexico last August, he was invited to share a biblical reflection to his friend’s group, the “Women Theologians.” Luciano Plascencia, the founder of the group and Javier’s friend, is fifth from the right on the top row. (Photo courtesy of Javier)

After professing first vows, one of Holy Name Province’s student friars returned to his home country of Mexico for a vacation. While there, he led several talks and reflections, and found himself experiencing the joy of an itinerant ministry. He describes his experience in the following reflection.

Itinerancy is one of the Franciscan values I enjoy the most. I am not talking about randomly wandering, traveling from one place to another without purpose — even though that could be also a source of learning, experience and fun. What I mean is being open and available to go wherever necessary to serve others by sharing and receiving the many gifts God gives us every day.

After finishing my novitiate year in Burlington, Wis., (Thanks be to God!) I went on vacation to Mexico, my beloved country. I spent four fabulous weeks between my hometown, Tampico, and my adoptive hometown, Mexico City, where I lived for almost nine years. It was invigorating to see and to share time, and of course, authentic Mexican food, with my family and with many friends after such a long period of 14 months.

But I was also a little busy with “itinerant business.” Let me share some of my adventures.

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Javier with members of the Apostolic Biblical Center of the Archdiocese of Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Javier)

On Aug. 20, I was invited to give a talk about “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Catholic Church” at the Apostolic Biblical Center of the Archdiocese of Mexico. The center’s headquarters is in Mexico City, and it has 10 more subsidiaries in Mexico City and the States of Mexico, Michoacán and Morelos. Ranulfo Urrutia, a passionate student and instructor of the Bible, conceived the idea of this event more than a year ago and he worked very hard up to make it possible.

I thought it was going to be an intimate conversation with few students, but when I arrived to the center the place was packed. The audience was wonderful, and they brought many good questions and concerns to our conversation. I also witnessed the “Francis effect” that the media are talking about. Indeed, some people shared how they really feel challenged by this pope who is shaking their consciences by inviting them to be creative and to not be afraid of anything or anyone. After four hours of a fruitful dialogue, we had to stop because we were very hungry! So some of us went for a delicious Mexican pozole.

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Javier sharing a biblical reflection with the “Women Theologians.” (Photo courtesy of Javier)

On Aug. 26, my friend and theologian Luciano Plascencia invited me to share a biblical reflection about “Women in the Gospels” to his group of “women theologians.” This group is very dear to me. I met them in 2012 when I came back to Mexico from my biblical research year in Israel and Italy, but Luciano started the group many years ago. They gather every Tuesday morning for four hours to study, reflect and discern about theology issues and daily life. Now the group is growing up and also men are joining it. After the session, some of us went out for a Mexican pizza. I know, I know, “Mexican pizza” probably sounds like heresy, but, believe me, you really have to taste it!

After I returned to the United States, I traveled to Holy Name College in Silver Spring, Md., where I was assigned after novitiate. On Wednesday, Oct. 14, I started my new ministry at St. Camillus Parish. It is a yearlong biblical program in Spanish for Latino adults of all ages. We will gather on Wednesday every week to study both the Old and New Testaments. In the beginning, only one person registered, but when I arrived to the classroom, there were 50 people! “Fifty” is the symbolic biblical number for the effusion of the Holy Spirit.

And indeed the class is like a new Pentecost: people coming from around eight Latin American countries, from different ministries in the church and even from other parishes. We had a very good opening session and 65 people attended on Oct. 28. I am very grateful to my brothers Michael Johnson, OFM, (pastor), Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, and Erick López, OFM, (vicars) for their trust, encouragement and support in this new ministry.

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The Bible study group at St. Camillus Church. Click to view a larger image. (Photo courtesy of Javier)

This is something that has happened to me during the last three months between vacation and the beginning of my new stage in Holy Name Province. God is more generous to me than I can imagine. The next two months will be filled with biblical activity as well. Itinerancy is taking me to places, circumstances and, especially, to people I never imagined — wonderful, insightful, generous, committed, faithful, loving people. I believe they are one of the greatest blessings of being an itinerant because they challenge me to embrace new realities. They make me realize how much I can and I need to grow every day.

Peace!

Br. Javier is studying pre-theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington. Before joining Holy Name Province, Javier worked in organization and human development, coaching corporate businesses for 15 years for Fortune 500 companies in the Americas and South Korea. He also founded and directed the Center for Biblical Studies “Xaire.” He holds a bachelor’s in communications and a master’s in communication and sociocultural studies.

Editor’s note: Information about the recent activities of some of our friars can be found by reading their blogs.  

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