The Journey Continues: THE JUNIORATE Letters home, 1963 - 65 - Part 2

Posted by Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ in Our Daily Lives

The next four letters are rather brief. The Junior only references the family’s visit in the very brief letter of Oct 17 but then quite a number of times in the Oct 27 letter. The November 11th letter shows him clearly entirely immersed in many activities: studies, drama, projects.


Guelph, Ontario

Oct 17/63

Dear Lil + Bill,

In the excitement of the visit I forgot to wish you both a happy birthday. But I did not forget to offer up prayers for you.

By now you should have reached home and I hope you enjoyed the visit as much as I did.

Lil, you apologized for weeping. “Old Faithful” gave way on Sunday after you left. The Best to everyone, especially Bill’s mother.





Guelph, Ontario

Oct. 27, 1963

Dear Mum, Dad and all;

Well, it is about time that I took time. Since your visit, work has been catching up with me. This week I had a mid-term Zoology exam [at the Ontario Agricultural College] and so that put me way behind for the week. Besides that I am trying to finish my sermon that is supposed to be given on the seventeenth of November. As of yet I am not satisfied with anything [I’ve] written. Please pray that an inspiration will hit me soon. Besides that there has been a few heavier assignments in the other classes and I believe tomorrow we will be cast for our yearly drama evening which we are to give to the community at the end of the month. So you see why I had to make time to write.

Thank you very much for those post cards [of the places you visit on your return trip] andfor your letter. I just received it yesterday. Remember all those letters I had planned to write. Well the only one finished and mailed was to Jerry. It was good that you had a chance to visit the shrine [at Midland, Ontario], especially hitting it the day before it closed for the year.Family visit.

As for the visit, as you also mentioned it went too fast. Father Rector [Farrell] is back now and asked about you and your visit. It is too bad he happened to be away at the time, but everything else worked out very fine, especially the weather. In fact even up to now it has been so warm that one would think it was September. It seems that last month and this month got mixed-up. I can not tell you how much your visit meant to me. Thank you very much and thank everyone who made it possible. It was so good also to see Lil [sibling] and Bill [brother-in-law], Rosemary and Matt [siblings 12 and 10 years old]. I only wish that everyone could have come.

Well the apple harvest is complete now and all there is left to do is to grade the apples and sell them. Brother Reichman was surprised at the amount they picked after you had been here. He hadn’t expected as many as he actually got. 

You should see my plants. My violet is now blooming. It is one of the prettiest I haveever seen. It is about an inch and one-quarter across, with a white edge around the purple. Even my cacti have shown tremendous signs of growth, for the long spindly one is sprouting in both parts and the plant with the shiny leaves is sending many sprouts out on the sides. There has been no change in the barrow-shaped one as yet, but it will come.

I got the idea from you about collecting seeds and most of the brothers got a kick out of it. But they have to admit it is a good idea. I wanted to ask you how to check your seeds for germination and when is the best time to do it. Do you have to wait for the seeds to dry before you try them?

Today is the feast of Christ the King and so it is a holiday for us. (That is, we don’t have compulsory study and we have music and more recreation) But to tell you the truth is horrid to have them because so much time is wasted. But I suppose they [holidays and recreation] are necessary.

Boy, that house [being built on the home farm] must really be coming along. Once the inside walls are done there is not too much left to do compared with what has been done. I suppose you will have a house-warming. It will be strange for me to come home to visit a different house. That’s the only thing about a new house, or rather an old house, there are so many memories wrapped up in it.

You mentioned the camera [about leaving it with me]. Yes, I thought of it that evening after you left. Perhaps I should have phoned you at the hotel but I thought you would probably be off early or something and so I didn’t bother. By all means send it at Christmas or even before if you have a chance and I will try to get some good shots for you.

Last night we turned the clocks back an hour and so we all got an extra hour of sleep. It sets your day off though for you lose track of the time.Family visit.

I look forward to seeing the pictures [you took on the way home]. I hope they turned out well.

Well believe it or not I have run out of things to say. It always works out that during the time between letters I can think of a million and one things to say in the next letter but when it comes time to sit down and write its like pulling teeth. I suppose that carries over from public school for I have the same problem in writing essays and various other thing. But I’ll have to plug away at it and perhaps someday I’ll be abit more fluent.

The best to all the family and please remember me in your prayers.



P.S. I forgot to thank you for the pictures mum, Bernice, Myrna, Marlene, Viv + Lil [siblings]



Guelph, Ontario

Nov. 11, 1963

Dear Mum & Dad:

Another two weeks have flown by so quickly that the days seem like seconds. In fact I have to keep a very close watch on the days or else you would probably not receive a letter a month. It always seems as though I just wrote a few days ago but when I look at the calendar it shows that it’s much longer than that.

Before I go on any further I will thank Lillian and Bill for their letter. It was good news to hear that little Blaine decided to surprise his mum and dad when they came home, by walking. Also thank Marlene and Ed for their letter. (I probably did so in my last letter but my memory is slipping).

Lillian told me that the house is coming along great guns and that soon, or rather I should say very soon, you will be moving. (And there my period finger was itchy and I didn’t have a chance to add ‘into the new house’.) When you get a chance, please send me pictures, for I am just dying to see it.

Backstage at the community play - the Conversion of St. Paul.Well, as I mentioned at the beginning of this letter the days seem like seconds. That is because I am head over heels in activities. One thing that is keeping me quite busy is the play we are planning to put on for the community at the end of November. I have not very big parts because I have to go to classes at the O.A.C. [Ontario Agricultural College], but I am on the costume committee. I know you would be greatly amused to see me sitting at the sewing machine, mum. Up to now I have begun a type of jacket middle-century poet. I think that it was a very big bite for a beginner. But the sleeves are on the bodice now so the biggest part is done. It doesn’t look that good but it will have to do.

The rest of the work is mostly alterations exceptfor one toga, which is very easy to make, and a couple of Roman soldier capes. Brother Tailor lets us use of his machines in the Tailor shop when they are not working. The machine is just like your old ‘Singer’ only it has an electric motor on it. I’m sure Matthew and Rosemary would have liked to see the decoration we had on St.Alphonsus day. (St. Alphonsus is the patron said of the brothers, and so on that day we all gettogether and do their work for them. Or rather I should say we try to do their work. I was a cook for the breakfast (there were two of us working to prepare that) and an assistant cook for the main meal of the day.Family visit.

(We usually decorate our recreation room for them and let them have a holiday that day.) So that is why we had decorations. In any case brother Bonic and a couple of other brothers brought in two oats sheaves (my poor nose [allergies!]) and set up their jack-o-lanterns around them. Behind that they set up a small dead tree with a paper owl, on a branch, silhouetted against a white moon on the back of the stage. They put on all the blue stage lights and the effect was wonderful. (That feast day is on the thirty-first of Oct.)

Thanks for the prayers for that sermon I had to finish. It is all written and now all there is left to do is deliver it. And I can assure you it is much easier said than done. So remember me next Sunday evening, for that is when it goes on air.

I have a Zoology exam coming up at the end of November. It is the Christmas exam but we are having it a little early. It will be good at Christmas because I will be able to study othersubjects, but it is so hectic at the end of Nov. We just finished studying the earth worm. It is a much more complicated animal than it appears on the surface. But if you take one system at a time (e.g., the digestive system, the circulation) it is not too difficult. I never did care to touch worms, now yet to take them apart. But even that is not too bad now.

Well, I’ll have to got out and practice catching the foot ball. Next Thursday we are having a little game against the novices and we are trying to get in shape. (I hate to say this, but we will probably lose for we lost most of our best foot ball players last summer, when two went off to [our mission in] India and the rest to Spokane [to study Philosophy]. And the novices have a pretty stiff team. It seems the majority of them are Football enthusiasts.)

Well, if time continues going as quickly as it is I shall soon have to compose my Christmas letter.

Lillian mentioned something about Bill’s mother’s reaction to being mentioned in my letter. Perhaps I seem to forget to mention people and to ask you to say hello to them but really I don’t forget. The problem is that it is impossible to mention everyone and so I mention very few. In any case they are all remembered in my prayers. I only wish I could write to every one but that too is impossible.

Best to all the family and all our friends and please remember me in your prayers.





Guelph, Ontario

Nov. 17, 1963

Dear Rosemary;

You see I did not forget your birthday [13th!]. I can not sing happy birthday to you so thebest I can do is to write out the words; ‘Happy birthday to you; happy birthday to you; happy birthday dear Rosemary; Happy birthday to you.’

You will be remembered in my mass, communion and beads particularly on your day.

God bless you and please remember me in your prayers.




All photos are courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ

About The Author

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

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Peter Bisson on May 20, 2017 - 2:25 AM

How warm and affectionate!