Answering the Call

Two years ago today, I stopped to visit Father Michael in the sacristy after he’d celebrated Mass for the Assumption. He was in quite a mellow and happy mood and told me that the date of August 15, 1981 was very memorable for him. This was the date that he had flown from Canada to enter the Dominican novitiate in Denver,  Colorado. And because of the feast day, Father M felt that there was that special connection to the Blessed Mother. As I listened to his happy reminiscing, I saw it was obviously a very special memory for Father Michael.

Last year, Father Michael was leaving for a trip to visit family on this date. So I didn’t see him. I remembered that he’d said a close friend had been upset in 1981 that he would choose to minister in the United States rather than Canada. Father Michael had dual Canadian/American citizenship, but in his heart of hearts , he was a loyal Canadian. I’m sure that leaving his homeland was a difficult part of his decision. So I sent him a text thanking him for choosing to come to serve in my country and for the ‘yes’ of his priesthood. But I know for Father Michael, the true ‘draw’ of the Central Dominican Province  was that they were truly like a family. That was so important for him. Father Michael cherished his family in Canada and came to cherish his Dominican family in the same way.

So today, I celebrate what began thirty-three years ago on that brave flight to Denver. I am so grateful for all that Father Michael brought to us.

St. Dominic’s Feast

St Dominic by BotticelliToday is the Feast of St Dominic, so the Order of Preachers is praying, preaching and….partying. They have much to celebrate in the gift of St Dominic and his vision of a unique way for a life to  serve the Lord. There is quite a legacy of Dominican saints- St Thomas Aquinas, St Albert the Great, St Catherine of Siena, St Martin de Porres, St Rose of Lima ,to name just a few.

And of course we fortunate ones have experienced the real, grace-filled influences of many Dominican sisters and priests in our own lives.That brings me, of course,to Father Michael Kyte…..what a wonderful Dominican he was. So often he spoke with great tenderness of his Dominican brothers, the community. Father Michael told me often things like “Father Louie is so kind and always good to me”. Or “Oh Father Rick is so holy and so learned, a scholar; he reminds me of St Dominic”. Or (talking to me on the phone) “I ‘m here in the laundry room,watching one of the senior Fathers ironing his habit. I am humbled watching him as I realize he has been ironing his habit with such care and love every day for over sixty years.” Father Michael saw all the goodness and blessings in his Dominican community life….and truly loved his brothers.

Preaching and praying were a given for Father Michael. He always claimed he was ‘no academic’ yet I know he studied and read all the time. And all of us benefited from how he shared his learning-“the fruits of contemplation”, if you will. Father Michael was a true son of St Dominic.

I read Alden Solovy’s newest poem on http://tobendlight.com  this morning. It’s beautiful-about miracles- all kinds, large and small. We’ve all experienced them-gifts from our Heavenly Father. Sometimes the miracles are the special people in our lives. On this St. Dominic’s Day, I’m sharing this simple, yet exquisite poem:

About Miracles
Majestic Sovereign,
Source of awe and wonder,
When did You decide
To make daily miracles so simple,
So gentle, so quiet and so small?
Did our fear of Your Voice
Echoing from the mountain top
Push You away?
Or was this Your plan all along?
To show us Your Glory
In fire and smoke,
In the parted sea,
In the darkness and in the light,
And then to draw away
So that we would
Yearn for You to be near,
So that we would yearn
For your power and might,
For Your holiness
And for Your salvation?
Or are You waiting, patiently,
To return, again, with signs
And with wonders?

 

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