December 28, 2013

The Crown Sister Ida Gave Me

My departure from the novitiate of the Order of Friars Minor, Holy Name Province (New York), on Christmas Day 1995, quickly became one of the most significant events in my spiritual journey. The prayer and spiritual attitudes that came out of it served me well then and have continued to serve and form me as a Christian and as a religious. I am more grateful to God for few things, and remain grateful to my novice master for having the courage to let me go when it was the right thing for my vocation.

It comes back to me every Christmas. I was thinking on it a little bit as I sat in chapel in the quiet of Christmas afternoon when I realized I had in my hands an object that connected me to that time: a rosary, a Franciscan Crown to be exact, that had been given to me during my six months as a novice Friar Minor.

Sr. Ida worked the front desk for the ministry to which our novitiate was attached, the former St. Francis Chapel on Weybosset St. in Providence:

The place is now a Hampton Inn & Suites. Sic transit gloria ecclesiae.

Sr. Ida gave me the Crown. There was no occasion, just a random gift. But I've had it ever since. Sr. Ida also provided me with my first 'small world' icebreaker in my early contact with the Capuchins: it turned out that she had been the first grade teacher of my vocation director, who was from Pawtucket.

One of the funny things about the Crown is that the wire and center piece used to be the color of stainless steel but have since turned to something like bronze:

I don't know if it's something natural or a miracle. I remember the first time I noticed the change: I was getting on the Green Line at Hynes Convention Center after spiritual direction at St. Clement's in Boston. In any case, it's almost a miracle that after eighteen years the thing isn't broken and I haven't lost it over the eleven moves I've made since then.

I don't know if Sr. Ida is still with us in the pilgrim Church on earth, but in any case I thank God for her and for her vocation, and for the inspiration she had to give me a gift that connects me with graces at once past and present.

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