The Journey Continues: THE JUNIORATE Letters home, 1963 - 65 - Part 10

Posted by Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ in Our Daily Lives

It is ironic that in the last letter, the Junior was commenting on how healthy he felt. In the November 14 letter he describes how his knee was injured. He puts a ‘good face on it’ and its repercussions. He decides to cheer for Calgary once the Rough Riders are out of contention for the Grey Cup! The December letter reports on the success of the Pirates of Penzance musical and his joy in performing in it and on the preparations for Christmas.



Guelph, Ontario

Nov. 14, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

I made up my mind that I would not begin this letter by saying that the last two weeks have gone by too quickly. Although it is as true for the last two weeks as it has always been, it seems that introduction in my letters is becoming as common as the ‘once upon a time’ in fairy tales.

At present I am getting more rest than usual. Yesterday was St. Stanislaus’s feast day which if the novices’ patron saint. It is customary that we have a game of some sort against them on their feast day, and we also do all their jobs on the morning of their day. I ended up working in the kitchen for most of the morning doing various odds and ends like making deviled eggs and the soup. (The soup was the easiest to do because it was powder concentrate, and all one had todo was follow the simply directions.)

In the afternoon we had our ‘fusion’ football game. Unfortunately we lost by a score of 4-2. During the first half of the game, while trying to touch the runner with the ball my knee was injured. The runner who had the ball stopped quickly to get around me without being touched. I stopped as quickly as he did only my right foot hit a small ridge on the field [gopher hole] and my right knee buckled. It isn’t anything very serious but it’s very annoying because I’m not allowed to walk on it. So I have to sit in the infirmary for a few days and go to class etc. in a wheel chair. However, it is not too bad because Brother ‘Infirmarian’ is wonderful and I have Brother McCarthy to push me around.

As far as everything else is concerned I am as busy as ever. Our play is coming along slowly but surely. There is still a lot of work to do on it but all in all we should be able to be ready for the twenty-sixth. My newly acquired cane fits right into my role of old Major General Stanley, so even if I still have to use it in two weeks time it won’t bother the production at all. But there is difference between using a cane and needing one; it’s a little more awkward on stage if you need one.

Bernice [sister] sent me a letter the other day and told me all about her operation. Please thank her for the letter and tell her I will reply as soon as I get a chance. I hope that she is feeling as possible now. Hello to all the kiddies.

Please thank Lillian [sister] for her letter and pictures. I’ll replay to her letter as soon as possible. I enjoyed seeing Bill and Dad coming in from harvest. Isn’t Blaine [nephew] the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen?

Viv asked me about Christmas presents in her last letter and I forgot to mention anything in my last letter to her. Actually we are not allowed to ask for things, and we certainly don’t suffer from want. (Don’t get the idea that we dislike gifts because, as you know, we are supported by them.) However, you won’t be far wrong if you send anything a young man might wear or use, for we are much different from other lads except fo the fact that we are religious. (I think!)

Well I can’t think of much else to say. I hope that all of you are well and happy. May God bless and keep all of you.

Please remember a special intention in your prayers.



[added in hand writing]

P.S It’s too bad the Regina Roughriders had to suffer such a defeat in the 2nd game of the semi finals. I’ll have to cheer for Calgary now.



Guelph, Ontario

Dec. 12, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

At long last I am getting caught up with all my work.

Our play was the first thing that took a lot of work. Thank heaven everything went off fairly well that evening. The costumes were delightful. The soldiers had bright red uniforms, just like the grenadiers, complete with the big fuzzy hat. The policemen had blue uniforms with white policemen hats and carried billy sticks. The pirate king and his troop were marvellous and Fred and the Admiral’s costumes and acting (singing too) were excellent.

I had three changes in costumes. The first was similar to the soldiers but with a major general’s hat and cape. In the second act I wore a beautiful red dinner jacket with a white scarf, gloves and black pants with sequence down the sides. In the finale of that act I came on stage wearing a night shirt, with all my medals, cap and slippers, to sing a lullaby. All in all I haven’t enjoyed playing a part as much as that one.

Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to go to see H.M.S. Pinafore done by the Guelph Light Opera. It was thoroughly enjoyable and it was good to be able to compare our production with their’s. Although they outdid us in the music, having beautiful voices and a fifteen piece accompaniment, I think we outdid them in the technical aspects such as lighting, stage sets and perhaps even acting. What a marvellous experience though; I hope to take part in other similar productions in the future. Enclosed will be one of our programs and a picture.

The second burden that has come and gone is my Latin sermon which I gave on the eighth. What a lot of work it took to memorize that sermon for I had to know it cold because it iis almost impossible to ad lib in Latin. (That is, impossible for me to ad lib.) As things turned outI had two small lapses in memory and as a result one statement was heretical. Other than that it was a success. It was a relief to be finished with it.

I have almost finished with the last of the great plagues that a Junior suffers. I handed in one term paper on Tuesday and my second term paper has only to be typed out for the last time. With those out of my hair there are only three exams to write before Christmas and then I canrelax a little until the middle of January when we will write the rest of the exams. My first exam is on the eighteenth, and the other two are on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Christmas, so there are some intentions which I heartily recommend for prayer. (I need them.)

Remember my leg injury from last letter. Well, it turned out to be a torn cartilage. In the knee there are three [cartilages] and the one that torn is the middle one. So I am still limping around. It was thought that surgery might be necessary but I doubt it for it has improved a lotduring the past weeks. The only difficulty is that it takes a very long time to heal (perhaps a few months) which means no hockey or sports. However, misery loves company and so a couple of weeks after I tore my cartilage another brother had a similar accident. Being an avid sportsman too, if nothing else, we can sympathize with one another.

Well, I finally got all my Christmas cards signed. The most difficult thing is to decide where your ration of cards should be sent for you would like to send on to everyone but it would never get done and would need boxes. It hardly seems possible that Christmas is here already; this fall has gone by so quickly.

We had some lovely cold weather all the beginning of December. In fact, we got out rink flooded with a lovely coat of ice in time for a hockey game with the novices on the eighth of December. (We ‘licked’ them 5-4) However, yesterday it started to rain and today there is mostly water in our rink. So. . . . . .we start again.

I received my first Christmas card yesterday from George Picray. From the address on the outside (or rather, the post mark) he is still in university in Saskatoon. He promised a letter but stated no definite time. He said, “I’ll write some day,” a typical George statement.

We are starting to think of Christmas decorations now and this afternoon I intend to hobble out to look for a good Christmas tree. We have started a project for the tables at Christmas. We are making Santa Claus’s out of dixi cups, painted them red and adding the cotton baton. I know it sounds silly but, although there is not much symbolism in a Santa, they will be very colorful and amuse many people.

We are fixing up our recreation room. Two of the brothers are doing a good job of building a phonograph radio cabinet and speaker cabinet on the one wall, and mounting the T.V.set on the same wall. (You see, when we watch television we have to elevate the T.V. so that everyone can see it, so that feature in their design will save a lot of time and eliminate the danger of breakage.) I painted the wall they are putting the cabinets against a light greenish color and so into my hands they are commending the job of painting the rest of the room. They suggested I design a mural for the one wall. If the inspiration come and the energy I might do it.

I hope you are all well and happy. Are you still having cold weather out there? Not long ago I received letters from Bernice, Marlene and Lillian [sisters]. Only the other day did I get down to brass tacks and return a letter to them. Thank you for your letter too mum. Actually this one is all mixed up for I should start with a thank you. Do Rosemary and Mathew have their exams before Christmas? If so, I wish them all the best. By the way, I haven’t heard from either of them for a long time. I would like to know what they do and where they go so that I can tell them the usual story about how fortunate or unfortunate they are.

Well, I’ve just been invited to come outside to get some fresh air by my invalid friend and so I’ll sign off. I’ll have to start my Christmas letter soon.

Please continue to pray for me. You are not forgotten in my prayers.




All photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ

About The Author

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

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