Brother Bob is Assisi Bound

It has been nearly 30 years since I set foot in Assisi or Rome, and as the day of my departure draws closer, I naturally wonder what it will be like to walk the same paths that St. Francis walked. I am also curious to see if I will notice any differences in these special places from 30 years ago, but I suspect the real differences lie with me.

My first trip to Assisi was in 1980, just a couple of months before I would formally enter the Franciscans as a novice. I had just had a course on the early writings of St. Francis which was taught by my then-guardian-formation director, Wayne Hellmann, OFM Conv. I remember how grateful I was for Wayne’s insistence on all of us memorizing the dates and significant places in Francis’ journey. As I visited each of these places they came alive in a deeper fashion than before.

 

My second pilgrimage to Assisi was in 1985, a year after I professes my solemn vows in the Conventual Franciscan Order. I was a bit older, not that much wiser, but a little more seasoned in the Franciscan life. The big difference for me during this journey was that I was now formally a part of this centuries old fraternity and I felt that every site I visited was now a part of my heritage, my story.

 

I return to these beautiful places after 25 years of retreat ministry; I am a different person than I was in 1985–a bit heavier, much grayer, and far more seasoned in the Franciscan way of life. (Perhaps the term, “slow-cooked,” is a better description.) My journey with my fellow pilgrims will be an adventure, a time for prayer and reflection and a wonderful opportunity to see and take in the land that was so much a part of St. Francis.

 

To quote that great entertainer of the 20th century, Jackie Gleason: “And away we go…”

Peace and all good things… Bro. Bob

Bro. Randy, Tim Johnson, Fr. Frank Gomez, Bro. Bob Roddy and Bro. Simon McHugh at the Carceri, one of St. Francis' Hermitages near Assisi.
Bro. Randy, Tim Johnson, Fr. Frank Gomez, Bro. Bob Roddy and Bro. Simon McHugh at the Carceri, one of St. Francis’ Hermitages near Assisi.

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