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Seasonal Reflection: Giving Thanks

Author Ross Chamberland, on right, with Kevin Kriso and professor

Author Ross Chamberland, on right, with Kevin Kriso and professor Laura Peterson. (Photo courtesy of Ross)

In this season of Thanksgiving, a friar stationed at St. Bonaventure University who is nearing the first anniversary of his ordination describes the many experiences and people for which he is grateful. He emphasizes the importance of the members of the Franciscan Order.

It is the season of eucharistia (εὐχαριστία, ας, ἡ). This is the season of thankfulness, and of giving thanks! So often, I think, we forget that Eucharist is a verb. It isn’t something that we go to church to get. We don’t go and get Eucharist; rather, we go and do Eucharist (thanksgiving)! This reality has made a significant impact in my life this year, as I grow closer to the one-year anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. When I was asked to describe this past year in my life as a friar, eucharistia was the strongest spiritual and personal element of my reflection.

It has been a great privilege to continue in my assignment at St. Bonaventure University. Holy Name Province’s ministry of higher education is alive and vibrant in my life here. I have entered into the charism of the friars who have served this institution for nearly 160 years, and I am in awe of it. The campus looks different, and the students look different, and the friary looks different; but, the real presence of Franciscan friars that pumps the life-blood through the veins of this place is very much the same… and I am thankful.

Seeing the Spirit of God
My priestly vocation, which rests newly and comfortably inside my Franciscan vocation, has added to my identity and ministry here at St. Bonaventure University. I continue to serve on the faculty, and as an administrator. Since the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, however, I have also served as a sacramental minister. Presiding and preaching at the celebration of the Eucharist on campus has been a true joy. I have been invited to enter deeply into the lives of hundreds of our people through the sacraments of reconciliation and of healing. I have begun a discernment fraternity of students here at St. Bonaventure that has grown to 21 men. We meet frequently and I see the Spirit of God at work in them, and in all I have served… and I am thankful.

My living of Franciscan brother/sisterhood has expanded in this past year. One example is found in the many opportunities to minister with and to our sisters in St. Francis of Allegany. Another — last year on our local fraternity’s Holy Week retreat, I presided at the Mass of Holy Thursday. Words cannot express my love of the friars made manifest that night. Christ was especially present to me in them. Also, God has granted me the grace of sacramental ministry in the larger Church. I have been blessed to follow in the 150-year legacy of friar-service in celebrating Eucharist at St. Mary of the Angels Church in Olean, N.Y. I continue to serve on the National Catholic Committee on Scouting, by which I was chaplain at Philmont High Adventure Base in New Mexico.

Moreover, God has allowed me to venture into new arenas of ministry and learning. I have finished my first year of fulltime studies in the doctor of education program at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., where I am concentrating in executive leadership. I have entered into many new relationships at the college, as well as in the Church in Rochester, and I am thankful.

Reflecting on Brotherhood
I believe the greatest gift I have been given is the Order of Friars Minor, and my brothers of the Holy Name Province. When I am prayerfully reflecting on what I am most thankful for, you friars are it! As St. Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “I give thanks to my God always for you…”

This past year did not belong to me. It belonged to all of us, and I cannot imagine what it would have been like apart from you friars. Just recently, I was courtside at an SBU men’s basketball game. After the game, I was truly moved by how many people from outside the university came to me and thanked the friars for our presence at St. Bonaventure. I became so keenly aware of the great witness of our brotherhood… and for that I am most thankful.

ross-chamberland— Fr. Ross, a native of New Hampshire, has been stationed since fall 2014 at St. Bonaventure University in Western New York where he is an administrator, a faculty member, and the executive director of St. Bonaventure University’s Lateran Center. An interview with Ross appears on the SBU website.

Editor’s note: Friars interested in writing a reflection for HNP Today on a timely topic — a current event, holiday, holy day, or other seasonal theme — are invited to contact the HNP Communications Office at communications@hnp.org. The most recent seasonal reflection was written by John Heffernan, OFM, about Veterans Day

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