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Weekly newsletter of the province of the Sacred Heart

AROUND THE PROVINCE WEEKLY NEWSLETTER OF THE PROVINCE OF THE SACRED HEART https://driv...

Priest ordination Mass 2017

On the beautiful Sunday morning April 23, about 100 friars and 1500 others including male ...

Focus-formation and studies in Vietnam

Formation of the Franciscan Seminary in Vietnam

Contemporary Situation of Catholic Theology

QUINCY UNIVERSITY LECTURE (Sep. 25th, 1997) What is theology? How has it been done? What ...

The Role of Philosophy in the development of Theology

Presentation at Iowa university (1997) If I must use a metaphor to describe such relati...

Sabbatical: the chance to do what you always wanted to?

My original dream of a sabbatical was to stay at a monastery in Nepal for a few months, le...

Has the correlational theology run out of steam?

                                                                                          ...

A Franciscan “Mental Hospice” in Mekong Delta

During Tet's vacation, I had the opportunity to visit a "Mental Hospice" operated by the f...

Archbishop Jose Carballo meets the various Franciscan congregations in Vietnam

On Sunday November 8, 2015 the OFM Franciscan Province of St Francis in Vietnam hosted a g...

Our Lady of Laos

Our Lady of Laos is a Statue of brother Tran Quang Vinh, OFM. He make this statue for a pa...

Sabbatical: the chance to do what you always wanted to?

Sabatical1My original dream of a sabbatical was to stay at a monastery in Nepal for a few months, learning meditation and reflecting on my life, at the invitation of my longtime friend who is presently a monk there.  After 36 years as a friar, 30 years as a priest, and 16 years of teaching in Quincy & Vietnam, I want to get away from everything for a while.  However, last year Nepal had an earthquake.  So my sabbatical took a different turn.

When I was ready to go on the sabbatical, the Dean of the Franciscan Seminary asked me to give a two-weeks intensive course on “Relationship Between Philosophy and Theology” for the senior class. Since this happens to be the subject of my forthcoming book, I did it even though it was not on my plan.  After that, I went up to Dalat to give a week workshop on Bonaventure’s Itinerarium to our 20 novices, and then to Ha Noi to give a series of ten-day lectures on “Ethical Reasoning” at St. Joseph Seminary. So The first part of the sabbatical involved teaching and giving workshops.

Sabatiacal2The second part moved rather fast… physically. Thanks to Fr Mario’s generosity, I was able to join in his tour to Egypt and Greece.  Within the period of two weeks we moved from the land of Pharaohs to the land of Philosophers. I can’t remember how many museums, temples, pyramids, tombs or mummies of Kings and Queens along the Niles that we have visited. I can’t recall the names of all the acropolis, public forums, Orthodox monasteries, historical sitesSabatiacal3, archeological digs in Greece.  But I treasure the experience of retracing Paul’s footsteps in Athens, Thessalonica, Corinth, Philippi and Lydia.  I behold the moment of walking down the stone roads where Socrates held his debates with the Sophists. I am stunned to see that the Roman public toilets in Paul’s time are not that different from the ones in Vietnam, except they were made of stone and not bamboo. All in all, the trip was much more than one can absorb in a short time.

Sabatiacal4The third part of the sabbatical was no less fascinating. I spent six weeks in Nhatrang to get my manual on “Ethical Reasoning” ready for publication.  After having sent it to the publisher, I visited the Franciscan missions in Myanmar.  This was a whole new experience.  I grew up in Asian culture but Myanmar is totally different. Everywhere you turn, there are Buddhist monks, stupas and temples. Each morning, young and old monks, in their purple-orange ropes and bare foot, line up the street for alms.  For ascetical reasons, they must eat all their meals before noon. It is also amazing to see fishermen catching fishes while standing one foot on the boat and the other foot wading their boats through the water. Time seems to stand still over there.

Sabatiacal5Before you know it, the sabbatical was over.  So many experiences of people and situations, pictures and memories that would take a long time to sort out. Now I am back to the reality with bomb explosions in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Istanbul, shootings in Minnesota, New Orleans, Dallas, and gun shots at nights in the South End of St. Louis.  Yet the question remains, “Is sabbatical the chance to do what you always wanted to do?” I will leave the answer to the readers. For me the experiences of the past six months have been so enriching for my journey of being a friar, and I am grateful for that.

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