In a year of drastic global changes, the mission of the Xaverian Brothers remained the same. Even more poignant in the midst of darkness, the charge of living ordinary lives that give witness to God’s unconditional love burned brighter as Brothers throughout the world adapted to new circumstances while continuing to serve others.
Unable to travel due to COVID-19, General Superior Brother Daniel Skala regularly stayed in touch with the Congregation via online Zoom meetings and phone calls. The novitiate was moved to Nairobi due to travel restrictions. Brothers met with each other on video conference calls, from Baltimore to Belgium, Louisville to Kenya, Boston to Congo.
The General Council and the leadership teams in each region met virtually, sharing information about schools, restrictions, regional happenings, and encouraging one another in prayer and supplication. Virtual events were held throughout the year, video messages were made, and online prayer services were held.
The Theodore James Ryken Society, which usually holds regional luncheons in the Fall, held virtual events in support of the work, ministry and mission of the Xaverian Brothers and the Xaverian Brothers Sponsored Schools (XBSS).
“Though we weren’t able to gather in-person, the feeling of support across our network and the world could be felt as people joined from all across the congregation – a true witness to the connectedness of the Ryken Society and the Xaverian Brothers family,” said Brother Daniel Skala. “We are so grateful for your outpouring of faithful support that helps our Brothers and Partners in Mission carry on Theodore Ryken’s vision.”
A video displaying the mission was presented during the program, which was then discussed in Zoom breakout sessions. Receiving hundreds of views online, the video showcased the vital mission of the Xaverian Brothers from founding to present, and how it has continued to thrive even in the midst of a global pandemic.
Several Brothers at Xaverian House gather monthly on Zoom to pray the Sunday readings. Brothers Paul Feeney, Rich Mazza, Joe Pawlika, Rich Lunny, Brian Davis, John Hamilton and Leonard also have a monthly shared prayer via Zoom.
The Brothers look forward to sharing the Sunday readings and catching up on any other concerns or stories they may have,” said Brother Richard. “This has been a great opportunity which these Brothers depend upon.”
“Although many Brothers miss the occasional regional gatherings, online events have allowed them to see others who live elsewhere, and strengthen relationships they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
“It’s nice to see and share prayer service with our Brothers in Connecticut, Maryland, and Kentucky,” said Brother Robert Green. “And certainly, those in Belgium, Kenya, and Congo. It leaves us with a sense of togetherness.”
An All Souls Day prayer service was held online with many who watched, prayed along with the service, and shared the video with friends, family and colleagues across social media channels. Together, participants honored the Xaverian Brothers, Partners in Mission, Associates and members of the Sacred Heart Union who have passed on to eternal life.
“The service was exceptional,” exclaimed Brother Richard Lunny. “We have never done this before, but it was done so very well and adding the names of those who passed away this year made it more personal to all the lives we touch.”
Mrs. Rosalind Camardella, whose husband Jim (former Brother Thomas) was a member of the Xaverian community for many years and always spoke of his time among the Brothers with affection and gratitude, was moved by the online service.
“I watched and prayed with you during this service in memory of my husband, knowing how much all of you meant to him,” she said.
Additionally, a Feast Day prayer service was also held online for The Feast of St. Francis Xavier and Founder’s Week. Many connected online in celebration, prayer, and community.
Each online event appeared to exceed participant number expectations as folks from across the network yearned for communal fellowship. The Generalate and XBSS offices were elated to meet those needs and worked hard to create inspiring and worthwhile online experiences. As the season of change rages on into 2021, so does the calm and quiet calling of humility and simplicity of the Xaverian Brothers; continually receiving the grace to turn toward God and take up service as followers of Christ.