This year, the Xaverian Brothers were thrilled to share their very first, exclusive Advent Resource Booklet. ‘Preparing our Faith – A Xaverian Journey Through Advent’ featured daily reflections from Brothers, Generalate Staff, Associates, and XBSS staff. Meetings were held throughout the summer and fall via Zoom to collaborate on the project.
“Producing our own Xaverian Brothers’ book of Advent reflections had been a goal of mine for a while,” said Brother Lawrence Harvey. “I knew that our benefactors and others appreciated the booklet we sent each year as a thank you for their generosity and I was pretty sure they would appreciate a uniquely Xaverian booklet this year even more so.”
For Brother Larry, the collaborative experience of working with other Brothers, Xaverian Associates, and partners in mission was a rewarding experience. The project was approached in a prayerful and reflective way, which for Brother Larry, helped in writing his own reflections for the book.
“I was very pleased with some of the common themes of Xaverian spirituality which came through in the booklet,” he stated. “The variety of reflections really added to my own prayer during the Advent season.”
An inspiring vehicle to help readers pray through Advent in an exclusively Xaverian manner, each individual reflection was posted online and across social media channels and across platforms as well as a full online version of the booklet.
“I felt honored to have been asked to participate in the creation of the book,” said recently retired Brother Joseph Pawlika. “I saw it as an opportunity to actually collaborate on a project that joined us in our commitment to a shared Xaverian Charism.”
The invitation challenged Brother Joe’s willingness and generosity to offer his time and creativity to the planning meetings and to the reflection and writing that would be his part in the process.
“The preparation was a kind of pre-Advent experience which helped to make Advent a bit more meaningful and fruitful for me,” he said. Brother Joe confessed that he hesitated a bit in accepting the invitation to contribute to the project because he knew that his prayer and reflection
experiences would be changed by being part of a ‘project’ that had an end-product in view.
“My reflections and prayer during the preparation months were colored by the awareness that I would be writing a reflection that needed to be open, inviting and suitable for people in many different lifestyles and in many different life situations,” he shared.
Each meeting led the group through a process that began with “What are we trying to do? What procedures and structures would help keep us on track and on schedule and to give each other feedback and advice?” There was a clear understanding regarding the expectations and responsibilities of the collaborating writers, editors, and production staff; providing the contributors with a sense of freedom and creativity without the burden of worry regarding editing, production, and distribution.
Stephanie Stricker, Associate Director of Mission Advancement, expressed her joy in coordinating with the Advent team. She looked forward to each meeting and was inspired by the unique vantage points each member contributed. For Benjamin Horgan, XBSS Formation Director, working with the team was inspiring for both his professional and faith life.
“From the start, our group was on the same page that we had to make this Advent resource personal by reflecting our real-life experiences of this liturgical season,” he said. “We had a diverse team of Brothers, Associates, and lay partners in mission on the writing committee and each brought their unique experience of our Xaverian tradition to the project.”
Benjamin Horgan was humbled by the vulnerability of his colleagues. The project helped him experience the deeper intimacy with God that he had been craving during the pandemic.
“I appreciated simply being asked to contribute,” said Steve Ruemenapp, Director of Community Formation & Religious Studies Teacher at St. John’s Prep. “My life in Xaverian education has been extremely life-giving, so to be able to have an opportunity to share faith with folks in the Xaverian community was really lovely. I appreciated the community aspect of the meetings and the feeling of inclusion that was fostered by all. It was important for me to try to authentically pray over the readings of Advent and be in prayer with those folks who were taking the time to read it.”
Structurally clean and neat; coherent and inspirational, when Brother Joe got his hands on his printed copy, he felt he had received a gift from the Xaverian Congregation that was likewise a gift from all the Xaverian Brothers, Associates, and collaborators.
“I feel that one of the strongest gifts was the fact that the booklet included a variety of perspectives and voices; Brothers, Associates, collaborators, men, women, single and married, parents and non-parents, those Brothers ministerially retired or active. Because of this variety in the contributors, the booklet provided insights that spoke to people in many different lifestyles, seeking inspiration and encouragement in different ways.”
The booklet brought forth an outpouring of positive responses, from personal emails to individual authors to numerous comments and shares online. For Joshua Kinney, Director of Communications, the experience of holding a physically printed book was particularly moving.
“There is something special about holding a book,” he said. “Having stared long enough at the bright glowing screens of our computers, tablets and phones, it was rewarding to hold and read the final product that we all had worked together to produce.”
Contributor Brother Cornelius Hubbuch was pleased by the responses.
“It says to me that folks are hungry for personal reflections that mirror what we find in the Fundamental Principles of the Xaverian Brothers,” he said.
Simple and useable as a daily reflective aid, the booklet provided a variety of perspectives, some of which appealed more strongly than others to a person’s personal life experiences. Many readers went out of their way to express their sincere gratitude.
“I look forward to seeing how this resource will evolve within our Xaverian family,” said Benjamin Horgan.
To view the full Advent 2020 booklet and download a copy to your computer, click here.