The Basilian novitiate in Houston, Texas welcomed four novices in August 2019. They will spend one year and a day, as prescribed by canon law, away from friends, family, work, and most things familiar to everyday life so that they may build a strong foundation of prayer and spirituality for the rest of their life as a Basilian.
Father Paul English, CSB, director of novices, shares how the holidays are celebrated in the novitiate:
The English-speaking Basilian novices continued to follow their daily and weekly schedule of prayer, common life, meals, and manual labor. The first several months together were times of coming to know each other, experiencing the changes from their time as undergraduates, living in the same house, developing a habit of prayer, meditation on the Word of God, liturgy and common life in the context of the novitiate community. We are fortunate to share Keon House with the Basilians ministering at St. Thomas High School and at the University of St. Thomas. On Monday afternoons, the entire house gathers for Eucharist, some social time, and supper. Members of the house have generously served as spiritual directors for some of the novices and as supportive and helpful confrères for us all.
The novitiate schedule includes anticipated Sunday Eucharist on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning, the novices go out to a church, usually Roman Catholic, but also to Baptist, Orthodox, Methodist and other Houses of Worship, in order to experience the various liturgical prayers and styles. They often have interesting conversations about these experiences on Sunday afternoon.
The novices spent American Thanksgiving at the novitiate and joined with the other members of Keon House in a special celebration, including a fine meal in the afternoon. The entire local community enjoyed this opportunity to celebrate and relax together. That evening, the novitiate had a movie night, replete with popcorn.
The novices attended two Basilian Lay Associate Christmas parties in the Houston area. These are always an enjoyable time and the novices enjoy meeting and chatting with our Lay Associates as well as the Basilian Fathers in the area, and the feeling seems to be mutual.
On December 12, the Hispanic community honours Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Basilians who can, including the novices, arise to participate in
las Mañanitas at 5 a.m. at St. Anne Church in Houston. People from the local area, many but not all of them are of Mexican descent, process outside in the early hours behind a large image of Our Lady, accompanied by Matachines (native dancers) and people singing, into the church where all celebrate Morning Prayer in Spanish, accompanied by Mariachi musicians and singers. Many participants offer Our Lady bunches of roses, light special candles, and sing to Our Mother. This is followed by a gather in the Parish Center for Mexican bread, hot cocoa, coffee, and more dancing by the Matachines. The novices and directors returned to St. Anne for the 7 p.m. Mass in Spanish.
Since the novices remain in the novitiate throughout the year, Christmas brought a special schedule that is a little more relaxed and a break from the routine. Over the three days, they stopped into Dillon House and St. Dominic Center to visit the elderly and infirmed confrères. On Christmas Eve, some of the novitiate community attended Midnight Mass at the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral. Christmas Day was more relaxed and included a gift exchange in the morning, a relaxing afternoon, and a fine supper and sing-a-long.