Our Collaborative is blessed to have two young men pursuing a vocation to the priesthood. Chris Holownia from St. John Parish has entered the Jesuit Novitiate in Syracuse NY, and Matt Norwood from St. Paul Parish is studying at St. John Seminary in Brighton to be a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston. Our seminarians are going to be sending us updates on their progress from time to time.

 

A Reflection from Chris Holownia

Published November 2018
Homily on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 (16th in Ordinary Time)
Reflection on Mi 7:14-15, 18-20; Ps 85:2-4, 5-6, 7-8; Mt 12:46-50


I wonder what Mary and his family wanted to say to Jesus - what was so urgent that they needed to interrupt him while he was speaking to the crowds. Maybe they were embarrassed by him? Scandalized? in Mark's Gospel, he tells us at one point that they thought he was out of his mind! Imagine the scene! Imagine yourself as one of those disciples witnessing this interaction! How might you react? Might you be taken aback? Surprised? Comforted? I think it's a matter of perspective, how you might react to this; who you are and where you are in your life's journey affects how you respond. I used to find this gospel confusing. I remember sitting in Church as a youngster and thinking, how could Jesus say something like that? What about "honor thy father and mother"? It fell in line with that other challenging passage, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." My family is very important to me. I still call my mom and dad every week (I just called them last night) and still, to this day, if I ever miss a call, they will likely lay on some guilt. My mom's initial reaction to my joining the Jesuits included, naturally, ...
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A Reflection from Chris Holownia

Published October 2018
Homily on the Feast of St. Matthew (Ephesians 4:1-7,11-13; Matthew 9:9-13)


As a young man, Pope Francis often contemplated Caravaggio's depiction of today's Gospel scene. He said, "This is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze." I think that's key here. People don't volunteer to be disciples; the initiative is always with Jesus. When people approach Jesus (without first being invited) and say that they want to follow Him, He warns them or challenges them, making them think twice about what they're saying. He rejects people who suppose they can become disciples on their own initiative. "Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." "If you want to be perfect, sell your possessions, give to the poor, and then come follow me." Looking back on my own discernment journey, I originally wanted to be a priest for selfish reasons, because of what I felt I had to offer the church, and with my own conditions. I remember thinking, "This would be perfect for me!" Thank God for Fred Pellegrini. "OK. Thanks for contacting us. What's your relationship with Jesus?" Wait, Jesus has to be in on this, too? What's Jesus got to do with... Oh. My priorities needed reversal. A vocation is not a job. My conception of discipleship needed refining, reforming. I needed metanoia -- a change of heart. Jesus' call to discipleship isn't simply another cause to add to our listbut rather ...
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A Reflection from Chris Holownia

January, 2018
Reflections on the Vows of Poverty and Obedience

POVERTY
The most compelling reason for taking a vow of poverty, in my opinion, is to help us become more like Jesus by preventing occasions for sin: the fewer attachments we have to this physical world, the less likely it is that the Evil Spirit will be able to use them against us. Poverty leaves us fewer ways to satisfy (or become addicted to) our passions, and it also frees us from certain kinds of suffering. In our world, possessions quickly lead to hierarchy (whose stuff is best?), and property automatically leads to division (between "mine" and "yours"). This framework works against the ideal - i.e. unity - for which we should strive. Poverty is a grace to be desired which frees us from honor, entitlement, power, prestige, and pride, a lifestyle recommended throughout the New Testament, and causes us to rely more heavily on God. Our relationship with God heavily influences our life experience and puts into perspective what really matters, and when we live in poverty, the difference between our needs and our wants quickly becomes more obvious. With God as our raison d'être, things don't have to define us or fill us up as much, and this new reality leaves room for receptivity to novel (and perhaps even divine) ideas and emotions. Ideally, it allows us to be at peace having or not having, unpreoccupied by material stuff, and open to transformation. In poverty, taking things for ...
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A Reflection from Chris Holownia

November 11, 2017
Memorial of St. Martin of Tours

Dear Parishioners, Happy Advent! In the spirit of this season of transition, renewal, thanksgiving, and conversion, I wanted to share with you a reflection I wrote on Luke 16:1-15 for Mass on November 11, 2017. The story of the dishonest steward is one of Jesus' most puzzling parables, yet its meaning was made known to me through my experience working as a chaplain at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse. In our consumerist and individualist culture, it's sometimes difficult to remember that everything we call our own, even life itself, is a gift from God. We are not entitled to anything we call "mine," and any control or agency we may seem to enjoy over our human condition is ultimately illusory. So thanks be to God for the unconditional love with which He sustains us and for the many blessings He showers upon us.

I was in the hospital a few weeks ago, and I met a gentle man named Ilyas. He told me he was Muslim and admitted that he had called the ambulance because he was stuck out on the street in a horrible rain storm in the middle of the night. He said that none of the shelters would take him in because they couldn’t accept anyone with his “special needs.” He had no money and wouldn’t be getting any until the third of November. He wanted to get to NYC because that’s where his cardiologist was, along ...
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A Reflection from Chris Holownia

October 2, 2017
Memorial of the Guardian Angels

To the Communities of St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul in Wellesley, pax Christi!
God and I have been doing a lot of work leading up to my time at the Jesuit Novitiate in Syracuse. As I was walking around the LeMoyne campus reflecting on my life up to this point, I was overwhelmed with the potential I feel is about to be unleashed. My parents always told me that I could go anywhere and do anything, and now I feel that that is true in a very real way, not just in my thoughts or attitudes. The freedom to do anything God might call me to do -- what a gift! I have finally found the place and the group that I've been seeking since I was young yet never really knew existed. I feel at peace but also exhilarated on a daily basis. I have thoroughly enjoyed the classes I'm taking on Christology, Ignatian Spirituality, prayer, the history of the Jesuits, and the current mission of the Society of Jesus. I feel comfortable in my own skin here, seen for who I am, valued for what I have to offer, and humbled by the company of so many other thoughtful, gifted, intelligent, caring, authentic men. I attend daily Eucharist, pray at least 3 hours a day (not necessarily all at once, and not necessarily alone), and work twice a week at Upstate Hospital as a chaplain intern. I ...
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