Last Friday night, a few seminarians and myself attended the annual Portland singing Christmas tree. There, many Christmas favorites were sung. It truly got the whole audience in the mood for the Christmas season. As Catholics, we know that we are not yet in that season but in Advent. Amidst all this Christmas spirit, I am challenged to “stay awake and be ready”. What should I be ready for? This advent I am reflecting on the things that keep me from being awake and ready or those things that clutter the inn of my heart. The advent candles burn bright in our homes to remind us that we are children of the light. I wait for the Lord’s “coming” into my inn. This past year has been quite a journey.
In my last Christmas letter, I mentioned that my mother was going through tough chemotherapy treatment and was very weak. On December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, our Lord took away her bodily suffering and called her to eternal life. We laid her to rest on December 19. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. This year has been an emotional roller coaster for me.
In June, I traveled to the Great Salt Lake for the first time. I attended the ordination of Fr. Joey Frez. The mountains were covered in snow and were gorgeous. I got to visit a cloistered Carmelite convent and the Trappist monks. Following that trip, I attended the ordination of Fr. Ysrael Bien in Portland, OR. The highlight of these trips was seeing these two celebrate their thanksgiving mass.
My summer was spent at St. Stephen’s Diocesan Center. I was able to discern my vocation and work on my human formation. I interned at the Diocesan Religious Education Office directed by Jayne Mondoy. This experience gave me a better outlook of administration from a diocesan office point of view. I enjoyed the times I spent with the staff and the priest there.
I returned to the seminary in August to begin my 3rd semester. So far, I am enjoying the courses that I have. I really enjoy my Latin and Greek classes. The semester really went by quick. Next week is already finals.
For Thanksgiving, I drove up to Seattle to see family. This was my first experience of driving in the snow. My jeep is not 4x4 or all wheel drive so it was difficult. Thank God I made it safely back to the seminary.
As the days are counting down to my return to Honolulu, more and more I am getting anxious. But there are a lot of things yet to do. Things such as Formation meeting, Spiritual direction, term papers to write, final exams, oral finals, and more. But I must not lose sight to the real reason why I must do all this. That is to serve you and lead you as your priest. I pray and hope that this advent season will be full of turning away from darkness and turning to joyful anticipation.
I extend my greetings for a holy Christmas season (not just a day) and a happy New Year. As my spiritual director always says, “oremus pro inviciem.” (Let us pray for one another).