Companions celebration at Sonnino House

On Sunday, July 7th, Northern California Companions gathered at Sonnino House in Berkeley for a belated feast day celebration. They also had two other reasons to celebrate. Timothy Guile made his first covenant with the community. Timothy began formation in San Rafael but had to move to Guam for family reasons. With some creative use of technology and learning about what time zone Guam is in,  the Companions were able to work with him to finish formation. The celebration was a chance for him to make his covenant in person with the  Companions he has come to know. They also celebrated the new gathering space that is being developed at Sonnino. This room will now have space for all the Companions to join together for gatherings, ongoing education and community events.

Companion Day at Sorrowful Mother Shrine

Everyone is welcome to the Companion Day at the Sorrowful Mothers Shrine to be held on Sunday, July 28, 2019. The day begins with Mass at 11:00 am followed by a meal and presentation. This year Br. Juan Acuna, C.PP.S. will share information about the New Creation process. For more information and to register, please see the attached flyer or contact Br. Terry Nufer, C.PP.S at 419-483-8099 or via email at brotan@usa.net.

Welcome to our New Companions!

Six new Companions presented their first covenants at liturgy during the Kansas City Province Assembly on April 30, 2019.  Please welcome Turf and Joann Martin who will be part of the Central Missouri Group and Evelyn Moreira, Jessica Reyes, Luis Lainez and Nestor Brizuela who have formed a new Companion group in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Church.

Called to Serve

by Vicky Otto, Precious Blood Companion Director
Congratulations to Celina Companion Charlie Salway who will be ordained a Permanent Deacon this month!
Charlie becomes the fifth permanent deacon who is a Companion. We are grateful to him and to Whiting Companion Leo Barron, Kansas City Companion Paul Muller, Orlando Companion Tommy Tate and Parkfalls / Butternut Companion Bob Schienebeck for making the commitment to serve the Church and the people of God.  We are proud of all of you!

The Power of the Circle

by Vicky Otto, Precious Blood Companions Director

My first experience learning about the power of the circle came from the story of King Arthur. The legend tells us that King Arthur decided to build a round table for the knights, so that no one knight was over any other. Those who study symbols report that the symbol of the circle is found throughout the natural world. The circle has also been found throughout different faith traditions representing the divine symbol of wholeness. It has also been said that “because a circle has no beginning and no end, the agreement to connect in a circle allows energy to circulate from one person to the next, rather than being dissipated into the environment.”

This year, Companions across the country were able to experience the healing and powerful experiences of the circle. Companions gathered across the country for their annual retreat, meeting in Missouri, Ohio, Iowa, Florida, and California to gather together for rest and growth. A retreat leader was picked who was able to attend all the retreats, so that Companions across the country heard the same information.

As we began the retreat process in 2018, we recognized that this year was different. As the Community was visioning and dreaming about becoming a New Creation it was apparent that Companions needed the opportunity to get to know each other on a deeper level as well. My hope was that if we could enter deeper into relationship, then dreaming and visioning would become easier and more comfortable. In support of the New Creation process, we also invited community members to attend the retreat. Additionally, Fr. Dave Kelly and the staff of the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation agreed to lead the retreats because of their expertise in utilizing circles of reconciliation at the Center.

Describing the Companion retreats this year as different seems simplistic. While Companions gathered for prayer and reflection remained the same, the presentations were considerably different from what Companions experienced in the past. Rather than the traditional structure of retreats, participants listened to talks and then reflected upon them. The Companion retreats had shorter talks followed by Companions talking and listening to each other as they participated in the circle process. Companions reflected upon topics such as how are they fed spiritually, what values do we share, and how are we called to be a Precious Blood community in the world today. At the conclusion of the retreats many of the Companions commented that while they thought they knew the Companions in the area, they felt that they now knew them at a deeper level. Others appreciated that they talked with members of the community for the first time and really got to know them. Everyone felt that meeting Sr. Donna and Fr. Dave really brought the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation to life, which they had previously only read about in the newsletters. Everyone also concurred that they truly embodied what it means to live Precious Blood spirituality, and that the sharing of their stories inspired them in their own journeys of faith.

Sitting in a circle. Sharing stories. Sharing hopes and dreams. Sharing challenges and difficulties. Sharing from a place of truth and vulnerability and supporting others in the circle along the way. These are just a few of the powerful functions of the circle process that Companions experienced over the last year. While each of the locations we traveled to had different Companions and circumstances, the same results occurred. The day began on Saturday with people a little hesitant and anxious and ended with greater compassion and care for people they thought they knew. It was evident that the energy flowed from one person to the other and became stronger and stronger. Taking the time to share our stories also helped Companions move forward in the New Creation process. As they began to recognize in their stories of today, they could also see their hopes and dreams for the future.

The poet Meir Carasso, in a work titled “The Same,” beautifully describes the experience of our weekends. He writes, “This is a time when doing is split off from knowing and being is hardly at all. But here and there on this side of the horizon, people meet in sacred circles to form communities and speak their hearts that seek the same.” I don’t know if King Arthur wanted his knights to speak their hearts when he formed his round table, but I am grateful that Fr. Dave and Sr. Donna shared their experiences and led the retreats centered on the circle process. Throughout the year, Companions learned to speak their hearts, and our future as a community will be brighter because of it. Ω

Waving Through a Window

by Vicky Otto, Precious Blood Companions Director

I have written often about my love of musicals. In November, I had the opportunity to see a production of the currently popular, Dear Evan Hansen. At the beginning of the show, Evan sings a song called “Waving Through a Window.” There is a verse in the song that beautifully echoes our need to renew and rededicate ourselves to listen for the cry of the blood during our New Creation process. He sings, “While I watch, watch, watching people pass, waving through a window, can anybody see, is anybody waving back at me?”

Who is waving through our windows today? I had an experience recently that reminded me of the importance of this message. As the community knows, one of our Companions, Tim Wanner, is currently serving a prison sentence in Illinois. As the Director of Companions, I try to visit all our Companions and I finally had the opportunity to visit Tim this past fall. One thing you should know is I have never been to a prison or had any experience in jail ministry. While preparing for the visit my nerves tried to get the better of me as I wrestled the reality of meeting someone for the first time, what would prison be like, how do I talk for four hours to someone I have never met—and the list went on and on. Looking back now, I realize that I could have stopped at that point and just said, “Nope, not going.” But the Spirit led me on and I went on the visit.

When you check in at the prison, you have to leave your personal belongings in a locker. I think the Spirit helped me to leave my anxieties there as well. We had a wonderful visit. I found Tim to be an interesting man who has read a lot about different subjects and is willing to engage in a lively discussion—even if our opinions didn’t match. He was kind and respectful as we both reached out in faith to form a new relationship. As I looked around the visiting room there were people of all ages and ethnicities who were also engaged in conversations with others who were in prison. There was no holding back or lack of engagement from anyone in the room. When our visit concluded and the visitors were escorted out of the room, there was a sense of sadness from everyone that this bond had to be broken once again.

For me, Tim was waving through a window, through the boundaries and barriers that we put around ourselves so people who don’t fit in our world won’t bother us. As a Precious Blood community, our spirituality calls us to stand with all those people who don’t fit in our world. As our community becomes a new creation, we are called again to remember that we have a duty and responsibility to respond to the cry of the blood. I would imagine that each of us has had those same moments of fear that I did. St. Gaspar wrote, “May our fear be filled with trust in the one who shed for us his most Precious Blood to the last drop.” The fears that we face today are different, but still as relevant as those St. Gaspar faced as he began the community. What doesn’t change, however, is that we don’t stand alone; Christ is always walking with us. St. Gaspar wrote, “You can imagine Jesus walking in front of you in every situation, bearing his cross; or, with a chalice in hand, he has you swallow from it drop by drop.”

Our world needs the healing that the Precious Blood offers us now more than ever. We live in a time when divisions and blatant hostility have become such a norm that most people just shrug their shoulders in response. The cry of the blood calls us to respond differently. As we continue our work as a community to become a new creation, we again must ask ourselves the question, “Where does the cry of the blood call us?” What gives me great hope is that as we explore this question as a new creation we will respond with new vision, with new imagination, with fewer obstacles, and with renewed commitment to our Precious Blood spirituality.

I look forward to the work of the community as we continue to dream and envision this new creation. Where will the cry of the blood call us? My hope is that each of us through prayer and discernment listens anew. We need to see with new eyes those who stands outside the circle in our world today. Who is waving through a window? As we begin this new year, my prayer is that we will look closely through the eyes of faith and wave back. Ω