Gregorian Friars from near and far gathered in Annual Convocation on July 21 to 26, giving thanks for the community’s 45th anniversary of Foundation. As in past years, our annual retreat, the Chapter Meeting and many other meetings that week took place at Mount Alvernia Retreat Center in Wappingers Falls, New York. This annual week together serves as a refresher course in living the vocation the brothers share, through the Brotherhood’s Rule of Life. The Brotherhood’s Episcopal Visitor, the Rt Rev Rodney R Michel of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, was present for much of the week, celebrated the Solemn Convocation Holy Eucharist and preached on the Feast of Saint James the Apostle; his presence was a great blessing to everyone.
This year’s retreat took the form of four teaching sessions presented by community members: the first was a follow-up to the Winter Convocation retreat presented this past January, during which our Rule, Constitution and Customary were deeply explored. The second session dealt with accepting major changes in one’s life, either health or career/ministry related, and was facilitated by Nathanael Deward Rahm and Joseph Basil Gauss (both of the Diocese of Chicago). Peter Budde (Texas) led the group in seeking an answer to the challenge: “How to Listen to a Sermon,” and the fourth session called upon all present to think and talk about “Names and Naming in Religious Life” – a subject that involves each friar. Much thought, prayer and effort were put into each session offering, with the goal of gaining both knowledge and insight.
The brothers attended to the community’s business during meetings of the Chapter, the five individual provinces, the Council and a number of other internal groups and committees. Province 4 elected a Minister Provincial – Thomas Lawrence Greer (Tennessee), who will serve a new term. Over the course of the week six brothers renewed their Annual Vows of Profession, each in the presence of his Minister Provincial and the community’s Founder and Minister General, Richard Thomas Biernacki (New Jersey).
Religious life is expressed and celebrated most personally through the Rites of the Brotherhood and this year was as busy as any. Two friars made their First Profession of Annual Vows – Eric Shelley (Southwestern Virginia) and Larry Walter Reich (East Tennessee) – and five men entered the postulancy – Donald J Sutton III (Massachusetts), Thomas L Curnutte (Southern Ohio), Michael J Piper (Iowa), Max B Steele jr (East Tennessee) and Scott M Pomerenk (California). Other positions filled and commissioned included the Director of Education (David Luke Henton of Texas) and the Minister General’s Appointee to Council (Richard John Lorino of New York).