Reflection from Brother Philip
The Western Dominican Province’s novitiate community at St. Dominic’s Priory is truly blessed to count the sisters, staff, and Residents at St. Anne’s Home among our neighbors in San Francisco. During this special first year of formation, we avoid things like formal classes and most communications media, but we do have one day of each week set aside for experiences in active ministry. Visiting the Residents at St. Anne’s has become one of the novices’ perennially favorite placements. The Little Sisters of the Poor, for their own part, are remarkable role models for new religious.
For the past six months, Br. Jose Maria Barrero and I have had the pleasure of coming to St. Anne’s each Monday. Our morning faith-sharing group on the sacraments proved so popular that, once we ran out of sacraments to discuss, we followed up with series on vocational discernment (apparently, it’s never too late!), the four marks of the Church (one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic), and the seven virtues. We’re looking forward to a celebration of our great sister St. Catherine of Siena on April 29. After assisting at the 11 a.m. Mass, we join the Residents for lunch, which must be as much fun for us as it is for them. Later in the afternoon come recreational activities, including the bridge table where a whole generation of friars has learned the classic card game!
But because the defining ministry of our order is preaching, our ministry placements are supposed to give us experience passing on the fruits of our contemplation of the Gospel, even and especially to those who already consider themselves followers of Christ. We certainly do plenty of that at St. Anne’s. Perhaps even more importantly, however, our interactions with Residents give us that much more to contemplate. Theirs is a Home truly filled to brim with stories and lives of faith, patience, and generosity.