This past week, over 350 Holy Cross priests and brothers gathered together for an assembly on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. In Holy Cross, assemblies, which some have described as akin to family reunions, are a chance for all of us who are scattered across the country – and really across the world – to come together for a time of fellowship in order to renew us in our vocations and our mission. Typically, assemblies take place every five years. This assembly was a special one, bringing together the Indiana and Eastern Provinces in anticipation of the creation of the new United States Province on the Feast of the Sacred Heart on July 1.
This week I saw that Constitution lived out as people who may have never met before greeted each other like long-lost friends. They did not do so in a forced or superficial way, but in a way that recognized the other as someone who is connected to me through more than our common humanity. Somehow we know we belong together as part of something bigger than our individual selves. As one of our brethren said in a previous Assembly, "There is more to me than just me." I feel like we recognized that in each other in many ways this week.
Most often the drivers of the golf carts were some of our many young men (almost 50!) still in formation, preparing one day to profess perpetual vows in Holy Cross. This matched together men in the dawn of their life in Holy Cross with those who in a few years may reach their twilight. Our elders gave great encouragement to the younger men in Holy Cross. We even pushed a few of the younger ones out to take leadership during the Assembly – presiding or preaching at the Eucharistic liturgy or helping lead other reflections.
It all spoke to me of a family, and one that I am proud to belong to. It is a family in which the members do not care whether you are at the sunrise or sunset of your life – or anywhere in between. You are valued for the gift of God that you are. As I reflected on this simple living of our Constitutions, I felt that this is a message that needs to be heard – a message of hope that all are created in God's image and likeness. All are gift.