My Novitiate Experience With Glenmary
by Patrick Muriithi, Seminarian
Last August, after my first year of study at St. Meinrad (Ind.) Seminary and a two-month mission placement, I joined the novitiate program in Cincinnati at Glenmary Headquarters. I was not so sure what to expect during this period of special emphasis on vocation discernment and formation. And in some ways I must have felt like I was not quite ready. But those I talked to who had gone through the program assured me of one thing: that the novitiate year was a time I would never find again! People also said it was the best year in their formation. Given the unknown that I was facing, I relied on the word of those who had done it before. Now I believe what they told me is true.
I must, right at the beginning, say that I am supremely grateful to my novice directors, Fathers Dan Dorsey and Tom Kirkendoll, who guided me through the novitiate year. Their profound faith experiences, sound morals, commitment, and example in training were very important for me. They have tremendous knowledge and wisdom to share during the journey of a novice. They offered me their time and good counsel during the whole period I was with them. They helped me put all my energies into focus, set goals for the process, and come to understand the various aspects of being a missioner. I had to incorporate prayer to find the energy I needed to stay the course.
Discerning well through a centering prayer gave me the much needed grounding and reasons to keep doing what I needed to do. One unique opportunity I had was the time to develop and nurture a deeper personal sense of prayer. I now appreciate that prayer is real work! It's a basic act of the human power to reach out to the divine in trust and supplication. It brings out the best in you if you place your trust in God, who has created the opportunity for you in the missions. All success in the missions is borne out of a close working companionship with God. To do mission work would then be to do God's will here on earth.
The novitiate program was ultimately a very special time for personal reflection and soul searching. In the long term, I found it absolutely necessary to take some of my time to reflect on a great number of issues. I would journal some of my thoughts, some of which I also discussed with my directors or other Glenmary members. Sometimes I would even pick up really good humor from the insightful tutorials. I learned a lot as the weeks and months went by—during my time in Cincinnati and my five-month novitiate mission placement in Tennessee and Kentucky—and for that I have every Glenmarian to thank, as well as all the other people I met and got to know in the mission areas.
I wish I would have had more time to spend with the Glenmarians, but one year is just what it is—short! Their constant good example for me, and their primary interest in mission activity, are worthy of my reflection. The near-incredible willingness to summon one's talents and energies to keep the missions aflame with the witness of the Gospel is an amazing fact of life within Glenmary. The apple does not fall far from the tree, and so as one among their numbers today, I hope and pray for the courage to do the same.
Pope Francis' exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, was a key source of my inspiration in making sense of our Church and the vocation to priesthood today. The sheer lucidity of the Pope's thoughts in that document catches both my eye and my mind.
On June 5, I professed my First Oath and became a Glenmarian myself! I have now returned to the seminary to continue my studies, and I am looking forward to a future of serving the people in the home missions as a Glenmary priest.