“The Journey: Letters Home, 1961 - 1963" consisted of edited letters to my parents and family about my experience of the Jesuit NOVITIATE, a two year ‘kind of’ boot camp, for young men aspiring to be Jesuits. (The19 Part IgNatian series ran Thursday’s from October 6, 2016 to February 9, 2017.) The letters began with my departure from the train station in Regina, Saskatchewan, and ended with my pronouncing of my perpetual vows of poverty, chastity, andobedience, in the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
In Part 19, the letters reflected the joy of ‘vow day’,the anticipation of the second visit of my parents, and the enthusiasm of beginning the next phaseof my formation as a Jesuit; the JUNIORATE was a time for academic formation focussingparticularly on the Humanities (Literature, history, languages, etc.) and for integrating ‘studies’ into the young Jesuit’s spiritual life. It began the process for the young Jesuit to acquire a second essential credential for Jesuit ministry, obtaining a liberal arts education and an academic degree. In the first two years of formation, the aspiring Jesuit was termed a ‘novice’; now he is referred to as a “junior”.
“THE JUNIORATE Letters home, 1963 - 65" is a 16 Part series beginning where Part 19 of the first series left off! There are many bits to the September 18th staccato letter but the most exciting seems to be about the twenty year old ‘Junior’ being given time simply to‘read’, and, of course, about the plans and hopes for the family visit. The letters in this series are full of references to his siblings (Bernice, Marlene, Myrna, Vivian, Lillian, Rosemary, Mathew) and their spouses (Herman, Ed, Charlie, Alex, Bill) who provide continued support and encouragement by sending letters and photos.
Editing note: (A raft of periods indicate where text has been excised; Square brackets [ ]indicate additions to the text.)
September 18, 1963
Dear Mum and Dad:
Well tomorrow the school year begins so I thought it would be good to get a head start with my correspondence for I do not know how busy a time it will be for the first few weeks.
Probably very busy!
Please thank Bernice for her letter, it was good to hear from her. She told me that thecrops were not bad and that the house [a new house on the family farm] was going up quite quickly. I guess the Lord heard our prayers. From what I could gather you have almost finished with the grain [harvest]. That is good.
The weather down east [in Ontario!] is simply miserable. It has been so cold practically all summer and now especially. The past few nights it went down to ‘near freezing’. In the day it is never hot. I hope we have an Indian summer for we haven’t had the regular. But then we can’t have everything.
Did I tell you about the eclipse of the sun we had in July? Probably not. It was not a total eclipse but more than three quarters. When the most of the sun was covered it was not as dark as I expected but it was just like dusk only it was a strange light that made everything look unreal. The only safe way to watch the sun was through something like welders goggles or a pin-hole camera. In fact I was the only one who thought of it. All I had to do was make a tiny pin hole in my blind and focus the sun on a piece of paper. (It has the same effect as a lens for you get an ‘upside down image’.) Rosemary probably has come across the pin-hole camera in her science course.
Last week we had our new statue of St. Joseph and sculpture of St. Ignatius blessed. Bishop Ryan of Hamilton officiated. It is a good thing you are only coming down now for you will be able to see it. It was not here in Aug. We also had the sod turning for the new retreat house that is being built just a few days ago. (You will notice in the last sentence an example of a misplaced modifier. It should read; Just a few days ago we had the sod turning for the new retreat house.........)
I have never read so much in such a short time as I have these past two weeks. It was a special time set aside for us to read most of the books we will be studying this year. Instead of classes etc. we read most of the day. It was most enjoyable to sit down at 8:30 and read until dinner time. I was able to finish eight books. Most of them were only 500 pages long but Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’ was almost 1000. By the way I passed my French summer course. I don’t know my marks but I found out that much.
My German course is a reality [for the next term]. It will not be a credit course but will be a hobby or what you could call an extra-curricular activity. There are three others that will be taking it also. We have a Father [Fr. Smith] who is a wizard in languages tutoring us. All in all it will be interesting. I just wish I had Myrna’s or Marlene’s [siblings] four years of German. Three days a week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I will have a class at the O.A.C. [Ontario Agricultural College]. In fact on Wednesdays I will have to spend most of the afternoon in the lab.
As you can see it will be a busy year for me. I looked ahead [in the calendar] for a holiday going with a weekend [for your impending visit with me] but it was rather fruitless. There are none until the end of October. So if you plan to come before that we can spend only two days but then we can make them full days. You could perhaps leave home so that you would arrive in Guelph either Friday morning or early afternoon. You could come to the College about 3:30 to 4:00 and have supper here and spend until 8:30. Then we can also have most of Saturday and Sunday together also. That would make your visit a little longer. That way also you could pick any week end that was convenient for you. (Of course Lillian, Bill [brother-in-law],Rosemary and Matt [ 3 siblings] are to come to supper etc. also.)
Well I must go. Please say hello to all the family and remember me in your prayers.
[Added in hand writing]
Please thank Marlene, Lillian + Vivian [siblings]for their letters. Thank Lil for the information concerning Aunt Philomena [who died]. I sent Uncle Joe a Mass card. I hope Marlene likes working in the new S.P.C. [Saskatchewan Power Corporation] building. Tell her I haven’t seen it. It’s good to hear that Viv and Alex are in a house [not an apartment] and also of Alex’s promotion. Tell Karen [little niece] I will be looking for a letter from her about Christmas time by then she should be able to print quite well. (I really should have added another page to this letter!)
All photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitch, SJ