It has been a little while since I have posted, mainly because I have been focussing any off-work time to my thesis. I finished it, submitted it, it was accepted, graded and I have now officially completed all the requirements for the MTS – Master of Theological Studies.
I will be going to St. Meinrad on Thursday to graduate on Saturday and receive my diploma!!!
I am sooooooooo glad that is behind me now. I have a new appreciation for individuals who work full-time and go to school at the same time. Lots of distractions and hard to be focused.
But alas, it is completed. Here is the official announcement: http://www.saintmeinrad.edu/News_detail.aspx?NewsID=364
When I get back I will try to give a post with a picture or two of my time in Indiana.
Here is a link to pictures taken by the Saint Meinrad staff.
I went to Saint Meinrad last weekend to graduate with a Master of Arts in Catholic Thought and Life. I was one of 45 that graduated (the official announcement is here). It was great to see everyone again, to be back on the “hill”, and to have some of my family there to share the event and the beautiful surroundings.
My older brother and sister were there along with most of their families. I gave some tours, we spent time at the Unstable, I also got to sit in with the house band on Saturday night – that was really nice. I really had a good time and look forward to going back in October for my class’s deacon ordination.
Now I need to start on the next graduate degree, a Master of Theological Studies. The classroom requirements have already been met, so now I need to complete the thesis. Fun stuff – yeah right!!!! I have the next five years to do it, but I am going to option for the spring, then I can graduate with my original class.
I guess it is now official – I work at Catholic Charities! There is an article written about me in the most recent Eastern Oklahoma Catholic; there is an announcement on the Catholic Charities website; I have business cards with my name on them; and I got a paycheck! Whoo whoo!!!!
It has been an exciting 3 weeks. Lots of learning, lots of working, lots of meetings, and I have attended a few industry oriented functions also. There is so much to do that it seems a little overwhelming, but God is giving me strength and direction.
I have also found an apartment, so will probably move in the week after Easter. It is in the same general vicinity of Christ the King Parish, so I guess I will be making a change for Christ the King to be my home parish in the future.
If that is not enough, I am also working on the final exam for my first master degree. It is answering 3 test questions with an 8-10 page essay response for each. I have books piled up all over my room, so I am trying to get focused and get this knocked out. It is due April 18th which is not too far away considering all the other stuff going on on my life.
My plan is to attend graduation at St. Meinrad in May. It will be a good time to go back, do a little visiting and walk across the stage with my advanced degree.
I ask for your prayers during this transition and for clarity in completing the school work. Thanks for all the support you have and continue to give.
On Sunday, November 3rd, the Rite for Candidacy was celebrated in the St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel at St. Meinrad. I was one of fourteen men who were advanced to Candidate in the ceremony. Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Bishop of Toledo America, presided over the Mass and was the Homilist. Here are a few pictures from the ceremony.
John O’Neill (me), Diocese of Tulsa and Saviour Nundwe, Diocese of Springfield/Cape Girardeau
Well, summer went by very quickly. I am back at St. Meinrad and ramping up for another semester of learning.
The CPE Program (Clinical Pastoral Education) that I participated in this summer at Hillcrest Hospital was a great learning experience. I had many moments of crisis and many others of blessings. God truly gave me grace to minister to others in both of those moments and everything else in between. The other students and staff were all part of my learning curve and hopefully I was a positive part of theirs. I am pretty sure I can handle just about any kind of ministry situation now, as I was in many emergency situations over the summer. My prayers continue for the men and women of the medical profession that so diligently care for the people who enter their hospitals and emergency rooms. Here is a picture of the group.
Clockwise from bottom left: Jeff (supervisor), Tausha, John, Donna, Elkin, and John (me).
This year I am taking Trinity, Advanced Homiletics, Introduction to Canon Law, and Reflections on Hispanic Ministry. These classes will all be in English (The Hispanic Ministry may be bilingual at times). I am also going to take a Moral Virtues class in Spanish. This will help prepare me if I go to Salamanca, Spain next semester (more on that in another post). It will be a busy semester with possible ministry at the Guadalupe Center in Huntingburg again. I will know more about both of these things next week.
At the end of the summer I had a chance to go back to my home town of Okeene, OK. I spent time with friends, relaxed, and generally rested after the 12 week CPE program. I needed to catch up on a few naps. I also met the new pastor of the Catholic Church there, and he invited me to speak to the congregation after Communion at Sunday’s Mass. I was humbled and honored at the opportunity. This was the first time I had been in the Church since I had joined the seminary. It was a real treat to share a little about my journey thus far and to be welcomed by so many familiar faces. I look forward to my Mass of Thanksgiving that I will celebrate there after I am ordained. After I spoke I realized that it was 50 years earlier that same week that I was baptized in that Church. It is amazing to think that all these years after serving and attending Mass I will soon be celebrating at the same altar as my former pastors.
That’s about it for now. I probably won’t get back to Tulsa until Christmas time, but I invite anyone to come visit me here in Indiana. I am sure you would enjoy your time here and I would love to have guests to share this place with.
Here it is almost the end of May and a lot has already happened.
My last day of school this semester was May 15th and for the first semester since going to seminary I was totally finished with all of my required assignments before leaving St. Meinrad. It was a very good feeling!!!!! I drove to Cincinnati to help teach at a School of Evangelization lead by my friend Charlie Osburn. I was able to teach/preach on many different subjects relating to evangelization and living Christ’s message of love and mercy. It was quite a week and a good kick off for the summer.
Next I drove to Tulsa and participated as a server for the ordination of 11 permanent deacons and 2 priests for the Diocese of Tulsa. My school mates and diocesan bothers Brian O’Brien and Gary Kastl were ordained as new priests. It was a truly wonderful celebration held in the Reynolds Arena on the campus of the University of Tulsa. Between the newly ordained, the clergy, the thousands of Catholics in the assembly and the beautifully transformed worship space it was a memorable time of praise and thanksgiving for the Church and these men of God. I am glad I was able to participate.
On Tuesday I began my summer assignment. I will be in the CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) program at Hillcrest hospital in Tulsa. Basically I will be trained to minister to the sick, dying, their relatives and friends, and the staff of the hospital. This will be an intense program of learning and self-discovery. I am looking forward to the next 12 weeks. I am living at Christ the King parish with Fr. Tam Nguyen and the newly ordained Fr. Brian O’Brien. I am appreciative of the warm welcome and hospitality of Fr. Tam, his staff, and the parishioners. It should be a great summer.
Since I am in Tulsa, call me or drop me an email and maybe we can get together. I would love to visit with anybody who is in Tulsa for the summer. The time will go fast so give me a buzz……
Blessings and grace to you during this Easter season. This has been a very blessed time for me and I want to share these last few weeks with you.
During the last few weeks of the semester, before the Easter break, I was blessed to teach a group of young ladies preparing for their Quince Años celebration (this is a Mexican tradition for 15 year old girls – almost a spiritual rite of passage). My seminarian brother Chad King and I have spent 4 weeks helping them better understand their life in the faith and the call on their lives to serve God. These bright and energetic young women were probably not too sure how to take us seminarians, but especially during the last couple of meetings we were able to see their hearts and spirits opening to the power of the Holy Spirit. God is so good!!!!
For the week before Holy Week, all seminarians from St. Meinrad are to take a 5 day retreat. I had my retreat at Subiaco, in Arkansas, with 3 seminarian brothers, Matt, T.J. and Catesby. It was a pleasant time of prayer, reflection, rest and quiet. We were blessed to be able to pray and eat with the monks. I was so impressed with the dedication and openness of these prayerful men. The seemed very much like a group of “good old boys” who truly loved the Lord and their service to Him.
During Holy Week I have been in Pensacola, Florida visiting my friends Charlie and Jeanne Osburn. Charlie is a Catholic Lay Evangelist who has been preaching and teaching for the last 30 years. Before I entered seminary, Charlie was more or less my mentor. We have been praying, preaching, sleeping, eating and telling war stories for the last week. I have been very blessed to spend this time with them. Charlie is 74 years old and still serving the Lord. He leads a group of volunteers who prepare an Agape Meal every Wednesday night at their parish. Last Wednesday I help set up for about 285 people who were fed shrimp scampi. This morning I helped him prepare sauce and sausage for the meal they will serve next Wednesday. Tomorrow morning he has been asked to preach at a sunrise service for the Pensacola Junior Chamber of Commerce.
I was able to attend the Chrism Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday. The seminarians from the diocese were serving and I had a chance to have lunch with 3 of them who were also in Guadalajara learning Spanish this last summer with me. It was good to see Mike, Matthew and Tim again. Making a connection with someone and then being able to unexpectedly follow up is a good thing.
We lost a good family friend on Tuesday. Henry (Hank) Huhman died at the age of 95. Hank, and his wife Marie, lived across the street from my family in Okeene since 1958. I bought my first car from him (which my brother is now restoring) and bought many gallons of gas from the station that he co-owned. Here is a picture of Hank and Marie just after my dad’s funeral in 1998.
Well, that is about all for now. Blessings to all on the Easter weekend!