All St. Joseph’s staff returned to campus today to begin a week of orientation. Homes and classroom are being prepared in anticipation of our students arrival on August 12. Some folks we’ve not seen since graduation in May, while many others have worked day in and day out over the summer. There were lots of hugs and catching up.
Energy filled the Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel as people streamed in for the opening prayer service. Our theme this year is Creating a Culture of Success: Mind, Body, Heart and Spirit. After a spirit-filled time of prayer, one of the houseparents said to me,
“This was great, now while we’re all rested and excited to be back – but could we do this again in the middle of February when we’re frazzled and weary?!”
We gathered in the dining hall for a review of the strategic plan, and the required Human Resources announcements and reminders. “Play nice” is our standard speech about avoiding any hints of workplace harassment and cooperating with others. When we entered the dining hall, HR had loud, peppy music blaring, and before we started they led us in a few exercise/dance moves that woke people up and got their blood pumping. It helped create more of a fun, engaging atmosphere, which people appreciated. It also made us more attentive to the information that followed. Taking short breaks for fun and exercise are not a waste of time at all, but contribute to building a culture of success.
Our two SCJ novices-to-be, James and Juan, arrived on campus last night. They will be making their retreat here this week. While the staff is lively, and lots of work and activity is going on around campus, there are still plenty of quiet spaces to be reflective. I had individual meetings with each young man, and in the evening they gathered with Fr. Anthony, Fr. Bernie and I. We shared our vocation stories, about how we came to understand God’s call to religious life, and what has brought us here to this place and time. Even though I’ve known Fr. Bernie and Fr. Anthony since I was in the minor seminary at the age of 14, I still learned many new insights from what they shared. I also appreciated what our newest members had to share from their faith experience.