Eliminate the word “Fratello” from the title of this post and you could sing it to the tune of Arrivederci Roma–provided you’re old enough to remember that song! However, Br. Efrain won’t be leaving Rome but will be living in Rome for the next three months.
Br. Efrain will be participating in the Monastic Formaters’ Program to prepare him for work with the candidates and new members of our community. He will join 26 other monks and nuns from around the world–eight of them are Trappists–in a program that’s been helping monastic communities following the Rule of St. Benedict. A solid faculty will guide them through lectures on scripture, the Rule of St. Benedict, monastic history, monastic spirituality and even the nuts and bolts of giving classes or juggling future responsibilities. “I’m really looking forward to deepening my grasp of monastic spirituality; I think that’s what I’m looking forward to most. It’s like a renewal of my vocation. And, of course, meeting all these monks and nuns from around the world; I think I’ll find that fascinating.”
Br. Efrain came to Holy Cross Abbey and the Cistercian Vocation from the Capuchin Franciscans. As a friar he helped to establish the Capuchin vocation in Mexico: he’s no stranger to “formation work”, to introducing new comers to religious life. But he’s excited to have this opportunity to actively prepare for the job.
The Program has been organized and led by Fr. Brendan Thomas from the English Benedictine Belmont Abbey close to the Welsh border. The Program has been in existence now for close to twenty years. It’s a tribute to Fr. Brendan’s vision and organizational skills that he can bring together from the monastic world Mother Marie Fahey, Aquinata Bockmann, Columba Stewart, Mark Butlin, Colman O’ Clabaigh, Jeremy Driscol and Michael Casey and a compliment of other scholars to consistently attract participants.
Br. Efrain hasn’t been in Italy since 2003 when, as Capuchin, he’d been there on the Franciscan Heritage Tour. “I’m looking forward to seeing Italy again–I love Italy! But I know I’ll also miss the community here at Holy Cross and the familiar routine.” However, when I asked him whether he’d miss mopping the refectory floor every Friday, he admitted he could adjust to life away from home for a few months.