Br. Chris Derby, S.J. kneels before the Body of Christ as he recites his final vows to the Society of Jesus.
It’s a weekend of Holy Spirit festivities this weekend. Today I spent the morning at the Mass of the Holy Spirit at Canisius High School where we witnessed the final vows of Br. Chris Derby, SJ as a member of the Society of Jesus. I got to catch up with Fr. Tom Benz, SJ who was a scholastic when I was an undergraduate student at Fordham and often invited me over to their home for dinner. The famed Fr. Jim Martin, SJ also was there and we had a great time listening to him regale us with stories at lunch. We should note that Br. Chris is a Jesuit Brother, not a priest. I asked him once when I first met him why he chose to be a Brother and not a priest. His response amazed me. He said:

“Well, a priest leads a community both at mass and in other ways. I don’t see myself in that role, in the lead. I see myself walking alongside people, journeying with them.”

Br. Chris serves as my spiritual director here in Buffalo and he is true to that call. He walks with me as a companion and confidant and I’m always gifted by his wisdom and his insight. It’s a new relationship for us, so we are taking this where the spirit guides us and so far it’s been an opportunity for me to see how great God truly is and how often I’m touched by his presence through others. The Holy Spirit blows where it will and quite often I feel that hurricane and breath in my life and Chris often points that out to me when I’m missing it.

Mass was lovely and included this hymn to the Holy Spirit, At the Table of the World which is one of my favorites performed here on you tube which doesn’t let me embed.

The rest of our weekend includes some leadership training for our student leaders where we’ll discern where the holy spirit is calling them to serve in our midst and in the lives of their friends and colleagues. It’s an exciting time. We head to a camp tomorrow to do a low-ropes and obstacle course (I’ve been getting in shape) and to listen for God’s call for the remainder of our school year. Keep them and my colleagues Julianne, Ed and Katie in your prayers this weekend if you would.

Sunday we have our Mass of the Holy Spirit and award our Newman Award to UB’s Head Basketball Coach, the esteemed Reggie Witherspoon. Our new UB President, Satish Tripathy will be joining us as well for the morning mass and we’re touched by his acceptance of the invitation. We’ll have our choirs and Fr. Jack Ledwon will be preaching on the Holy Spirit in our lives. The spirit is indeed alive at UB. My colleague Ed Koch and I met with Vice-President of Student Life Dennis Black and Barb Ricotta the other day and we talked about how we can bring that spirit more openly to the campus–not just as Catholic Campus Ministers but as UB Campus Ministers—in a spirit of collaboration and interfaith dialogue with all of the Campus Ministers at the University. They had lots of good ideas and generated much excitement for the future of Campus Ministry.

Our mass will be a celebration of that spirit past and present. If you’re around, join us. It’s a lovely day filled with much joy and spirit.

For us, let us discern where the Holy Spirit is calling us to be in this moment. TO whom should we go? To Christ, and only Christ. Where do we see him? In all those we are called to serve: Students, faculty, staff, our families and friends. To those in tragedy and those who are elated.

The spirit is blowing wildly. We can’t pin it down. The best we can do is let us take us on the ride of our lives, where God pushes us to be the best version of ourselves.