The Journey Continues: THE JUNIORATE Letters home, 1963 - 65 - Part 9

Posted by Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ in Our Daily Lives

In the first half of the September 19 letter the Junior notes first how his second year of Juniorate studies begins and then asks much about what is happening home in Saskatchewan. He reports on the apple harvest in the October 4th letter and asks what is happening at his home parish in Saskatchewan as to the Church liturgy (after Vatican II). He is excited that the son of a neighbour from home has entered the novitiate. The October 17 letter attests to his faith in prayer with the Novena for good harvest weather in Saskatchewan producing results! The November 1st letter announces the big production for the fall, “The Pirates of Penzance”.



Guelph, Ontario

Sept. 19, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

The school year had begun and work is starting to pile up already. It is surprising how fast a week can go and how little can be done during it. This first week of classes was not too bad. A couple of classes were cancelled and we only begin classes at the O.A.C. [Ontario Agricultural College] this coming week. By the way I think I will be taking Botany instead of the chemistry course. It turned out that another brother needed another course to complete his year, and botany, the subject I had enquired about last term, was decided upon. A quick decision was all that was necessary to complete the change. I am looking forward to the course very much as you probably guess, mum. Last year’s Zoology (study of animals) was very interesting but I’m sure the study of plants will be even more so.

Speaking of plants, just yesterday another brother and I went out to the O.A.C. [Ontario Agricultural College] on some business and while we were there we picked up some pamphlets on gardening. (Some brother in the states asked us to so for him.) I will read them and if they are any good get more and send some to you. There was one on annuals, bi-annuals, perennials, roses, glads and many others.

Two weeks from today I will have to take part in a debate. Up to now I have gotten out of it because of my office of president of the debating club but it is about time I learned to debate instead of just supervise the debates. So there is a special intention for you in two weeks time.

How is the harvesting coming? I hope that the weather is getting good and hot out there. Bernice [sister] was telling me that there was quite abit left to do but that it was running well. I kept a special intention for good weather for you all last week.

Bernice sent me some mail last week and it was ever enjoyable. There were drawings from Karen and Frances [little nieces] and a lovely letters from Bernice and Karen. Besides that there were many many pictures which I especially enjoyed. Was I surprised to see how big all of those nieces and nephews of mine are! Karen has st-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to say nothing of my little (?) Franny. What a big fellow Robbie [nephew] is turning out to be.

Bernice also sent me a picture of the grotto and I could get a  bit of a look at the church. Every thing looked simply lovely. It seems that everything around the grounds must be beautiful if I can judge from the paint and flowers by the church and the wonderful improvements in the grotto itself. I’m looking forward to seeing it all in person.

Tell Bernice I’ll write her shortly. It seems that I’ll never get caught up with return mail. I still owe Doreen [cousin who entered a convent] a letter from early summer.

There’s the bell and I’ll have to be off.

I hope you are all well and not working too hard.

You are always remembered in my prayers, please pray for me.





Guelph, Ontario

Oct. 4, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

What a hectic week! Thank goodness it is over. The debate last night didn’t turn out too badly but now there is much, much homework to catch up on, and that will take a little doing. But you know the old statement, “There is no rest for the wicked”. However they also say “the devil finds work for the idle”, so . . . . . . . .

We are having some typically autumn weather here. The sun is shining but it is quite cool, excellent for football. We are really working on the apple harvest this week. Everyday this week the brothers have been working hard picking and picking. For the past few days all of us have gone out for about an hour in the afternoon to pick our quota of fifty bushels. It works out well that way for each one has about three bushels to pick and then he can go off and recreate.

The apple orchard.After dinner and suppers we pick up the apples, if they were not collected before, and unload them into the apple storage house. It’s a lot of work but the season lasts only about a month and after all, the apples keep the building warm during the winter and pay for many expenses.

Right now I’m starting to organize everything for the hockey season. We have started to check the boards so that they will be repaired etc. when we want to put them up. Time flies so quickly that before I know it winter will be here and Christmas.

I have always wanted to ask you if there are any changes in the liturgy at St. Peter’s Colony, or I should say, in our diocese. Tomorrow we will begin using new postures for the Mass. On January the first we will have most of the Mass in English, not the canon or course.Since we have a high mass on New Years, the brothers who are n charge of the choir are looking for a good English Mass to sing. Unfortunately there is not too many out yet. Will you have similar changes?

Vivian [sister] sent me a letter and two snaps of her little boys this week. It was good to hear from here. I will write her tomorrow. She was telling me that Mr. Runge [her father-inlaw] is not very well which surprised me greatly because I always remember him as the picture of health.

I met Mr. Leibel, [a neighbour in Saskatchewan] Jack’s [a new novice]father, last week. Thanks for the greetings dad. Unfortunately, I only got to see him once. He was going to take some pictures so that he could give some to you, but in the busy state of affairs things just didn’t work out. Jack (whom I am glad to say is not taller than I am) is now in the first week of the long retreat. I’m sure he and all the other lads would appreciate a remembrance in your prayers during the next month. As you can probably guess, the long retreat can be difficult for some people.

Jack is a tremendous lad. Unfortunately I didn’t know him too well before I came but certainly the next years will take care of that. From what I can see, his fine sense of humour and all round talent will make him an excellent community man and Jesuit.

How did your garden turn out mum. Bernice was telling me that some of her vegetables were not too successful. Did your closer water supply help much?

I hope that all of you are well and that things are going alright. How are Matt and Rosemary doing?

Well, I’ve run out of news so I had better sign off.

May God bless all of you. Please remember me in your prayers.



[added in hand writing]

P.S.- I think Viv + Lil’s birthday is on the 15th but when are Alex’s + Bill’s [brothers-in-law]. I know they are this month but when? You have probably told me when Charlie’s and Ed’s [brothers-in-law] birthdays are, but I haven’t noted them down. Could you please send those dates again? Thanks.



Guelph, Ontario

Oct. 17, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thank you very much for your letter. Don’t worry about the time length of time between for the longer I have to wait, the more enjoyable they are. And besides, I know how busy you are and have been during the past couple of months and know how hard it is to sit down after a busy day to write a letter. That is the reason I usually do all my writing on Saturday or Sunday.

Who can say that prayers are never answered? In September, when I heard of the rainly harvest weather your were having, I decided to make a sort of novena that you would get your harvest in. The following week Marlene [sister] wrote and told me, in a diary type letter, that it was rainly (that’s the second time I put an ‘l’ in rainy. I must have ‘ly’ on the brain.) Further on in the letter she told me that the weather cleared up and that you had finished the harvest. It happened that the weather cleared up about two days after the novena was begun, so . . . .

For heavens sake take care of yourselves. I was sorry to hear that your not too well mum. Stick to that diet and take it easier; the latter applies to dad too.

You mentioned at the end of your letter that you wouldn’t be coming this fall. Actually I’d hate to see you making such a long tiring trip this late in the year. However I shall probably see all of you next summer some time.

It is a good thing you have that water near by if you are doing to plant all those trees. You will need a lot of water to get them started won’t you? Where are you going to plant them? They will really make the place beautiful.

It is unfortunate that Campion [College High School, Regina, SK] and the Academy [Sacred Heart Academy, Regina, SK] are ceasing to take boarders. However there is such an increase of students and just not enough room or personnel to keep them. I know that my two years at

Campion were really enjoyable years and profitable ones also. Perhaps the big thing was an opportunity for a bit of independence. Not that you were any more independent than you were at home but that you felt more independent. Where one could have the same experience, I don’t know.

What am I doing? Keeping very busy as usual. There is always much school work to doand extra things to do after. On Thursday evening we all went to Guelph to the General Hospital to be stretcher-bearers for the practice emergency program of the E.M.O. (Emergency Measures Organization). Since we all had taken and passed the St. John Ambulance course, we were asked to come and help. There were over one hundred students who were acting as victims. They were made up as if a real disaster had occurred and were covered with makeup that made the burns, fractures, damaged eyes, punctured stomachs look morbidly realistic. There were many pictures taken, and some were put on T.V. and in the newspaper but unfortunately none of us got in them. However, it was a good experience.

We are getting a new addition to our barn this fall. Some of the brothers are getting on in years and the work piles up in the barn so we’re getting barn cleaners installed. They have only begun work on them so I don’t know much about how they will work etc.

The weather we are having at the moment is simply beautiful. It is truly Indian Summer. It seems that winter had set in to stay a few days ago but I guess it hadn’t. It froze so hard a couple weeks ago, or rather last week, that brother lost quite a few apples. All of us worked as quickly as possible to get the rest before they were all frozen. It was a lot of work all at once, but now all are in safe and sound. On the last day before the frost was predicted we picked over five hundred bushels of apples.The frost finished off all the flowers so now we can clean up the beds for next year. In fact Brother McCarthy is waiting for me this moment to come and work with him, so I’d better be off.

Hello to all the family and may God bless all of you.

Please continue to remember me in your prayers.





Guelph, Ontario

Nov. 1, 1964

Dear Mum and Dad,

As usual the past two weeks have gone by so quickly that I can hardly believe it. During that time we have put up our hockey rink boards although we have been having the loveliest fall weather imaginable. It is cool, but the sun is shining. Perfect weather for football! We are taking advantage of it too, for practically everyday we have a good game. (Of course, our football is not quite as rough as the usual game.

Bros. Hutton & SchnerWe play touch football to save wear and tear on bones and bodies in general. However, our game need a lot of speed and endurance never-theless.To get anywhere in it you have to really keep ‘diggin’.) Perhaps these football games are the reason I feel so ‘healthy’ this year. Although I’m busier than ever before, I feel more energetic than ever before. (Don’t get the idea that I’m bursting with energy though.)

Two weeks ago we began practising for our drama night which is coming up on the twenty-sixth of November. We are doing an operetta, Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of PenzanceAfter two weeks of practising we have most of the music in our heads. Now all we have to do is try to perfect it and learn some dialogue. By the way, we have adapted and abridged the play somewhat because we haven’t any female singers or actors. It is remarkable how easily it can be changed to fit an all male cast.

That is one of our greatest difficulties in putting on any drama. It is very difficult to find plays with all males casts. However we always come up with something. In this play I’m a Major General, supposedly a comic character. I have about four solos to sing and the rest of the time I’ll be singing with the rest of the chorus. All in all, our show will consistin about two hours of singing. The songs from this play are so catchy and delightful that everyone seems to learn them easily.Major General Frank

On Friday we celebrated the patron of our brothers’ feast day [St. Alphonsus Rodriquez]. On that one day of the year we all ‘pitch in’ and do all the brother’s work. I was appointed to work in the kitchen and help prepare the supper for the community [about 75 people]. However it happened that some of the lads who were going to the barn to milk etc. had to go to class at the O.A.C. in the morning. Thus it was that I was asked to help out there too.

It really was a pleasure to work with the cows that morning. All I had to help with was the milking and since they have milk machines it was certainly not a difficult job. The cows were very docile, although for the rest of my comrades, who had the misfortune of missing a country upbringing, they were active enough. I also had an opportunity to separate some of the milk, and since the separator is exactly the same as the one you have at home, there was no difficulty there either. In fact, it was a great lot of fun. Our meal for the community was a huge success and we topped off the day with a very good movie ‘Raintree County’.

On the eighth of next month I am to give a Latin sermon. Imagine that! I have got a good head start and have the sermon written already (with the help of one of our professors who knows many languages [Fr. Smith]. All I have to do now is memorize it and (gulp!) give it. There’s a little intention for you on the eighth of December [Feast of the Immaculate Conception].

The novices are finished, or I should say, have finished their long retreat. I talked to Jackie Leibel on Friday evening and he is looking well and ‘chipper’ as ever. So if you see Mr. or Mrs. Leibel you can tell them he’s looking happy and healthy. (Just today as I was watching the novices on the foot ball field he made a beautiful interception and passed the ball to a team mate for a touch down.)

Enclosed is a cartoon which I thought was very amusing. [The cartoon was lost.] By the way, I was happy to see New York lose the series. We got to see quite a few games of the series and enjoyed them very much.

Well, I’ve run out of material so the best thing for me to do is close this letter.

I hope you are all well and happy. May God bless you and keep you in His grace.

Don’t forget those prayers, I need them.




Photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ

About The Author

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

(Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)

Frank on July 5, 2017 - 3:28 AM

In the October 17 letter the Academy that ceased taking boarders was Sacred Heart Academy. My brain was in Winnipeg as I edited the letter and wrongly identified it as St Mary's.

Peter Bisson on July 16, 2017 - 8:43 PM

Thanks Frank! Insight into our history...

Peter Bisson on July 16, 2017 - 10:02 PM

Thank you!