A religious order based in West Cork has welcomed five new ‘novices’ – the first in 10 years, writes Jackie Keogh, who met each of the new arrivals
A RELIGIOUS order that has had no novices in Ireland for the last 10 years has just received five.
Fr Michael Curran, who is the leader of the Myross Retreat Centre in Leap, confirmed that five young men are currently exploring the possibility of entering into the community of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC).
Fr Curran said that MSC has had no novices in its formation houses in Ireland for a decade and that of the five men two of are from Italy, one from Spain, one from Slovakia and one from Poland.
He said: ‘The novices, who come from different walks of life and different backgrounds, made contact with us in a variety of ways because they feel they are attracted to our way of life.
‘Here, they are exploring the possibility of entering into the community of the MSC, but first want to spend time deepening their knowledge as part of a year-long programme.’
This year’s novices are led by Fr Michael Huber MSC, along with Fr Michael Curran MSC and Fr Nicholas Harnan MSC. Between them, these MSC priests have conducted missionary work across America, Europe, and South Africa, amassing a wealth of experience in their various fields.
Learning to connect faith and life is one of the big challenges of the novitiate year, according to Fr Curran.
During the novitiate year, emphasis is given to human development, so the student will be able to know himself and accept himself, and be open to other people in their gifts and limitations.
Personal spiritual guidance helps the novices to live a reflective life, while aspirants also spend some time in pastoral work, learning how best to handle different situations and evaluating their suitability for such ministry in the future.
Finally, the novices take part in a study programme, gaining insight into the history and spirituality of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, and the place of the MSC in today’s world.
This shared life of prayer, study, and work provides aspirants with great opportunity for growth, as they face the demands of living and working both individually and in harmony with others. And the tranquillity of the West Cork countryside provides the ideal setting for growth and reflection.
The five men who have temporarily made Leap their home explained to The Southern Star who they are and what exactly has brought them here.
After arriving at the Myross Retreat Centre last August, they have each been given ‘a little room’ of their own and a common room in the 50-bedroom retreat centre, which is also home to three of the five members of MSC who are living locally.
Piotr Zlobinski from Poland, Domenico Roza from Italy, Jaime Rosique Mardones from Spain, Giacomo Gelardi from Italy, and Daniel Filipek from Slovakia, say they are working individually, and as a group, to grow in faith, fostering their relationships with Christ.
Piotr Zlobinski joined the MSC in Nitra, Slovakia. He trained as a teacher, with a special interest in Italian and Norwegian. Piotr speaks Slovakian as well as his native Polish – and he hopes to polish up his English with a Cork accent this year!
Domenico Roza comes from Abruzzo in Italy. Following a career in journalism in Florence, he made contact with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and joined an MSC community in Rome. He has now come to Ireland to complete his novitiate studies as the next step on his journey to religious life.
Jaime Rosique Mardones is a Spaniard. After studying law, he worked in Jersey as a lawyer for financial institutions, where he spoke English and French. His early schooling was with the MSC in Barcelona, where he first found himself drawn to a vocation in missionary work. He is now undertaking the novitiate having studied philosophy and completed his pre-novitiate in Ireland.
Giacomo Gelardi hails from Urbino in Italy. After completing his primary degree in Italy, he then studied organic chemistry to doctorate level at York University. He contacted the MSC having felt a call to religious life, and has since completed philosophy studies and his pre-novitiate studies in Ireland. Giacomo is now moving forward to undertake the novitiate as the next stage in formation for religious life.
Daniel Filipek is a Slovakian.
He visited an MSC retreat house with his sister, and he was so touched by what he experienced there that he decided he wanted to stay. He studied philosophy in Nitra, Slovakia, and completed his pre-novitiate there before travelling to Ireland for his novitiate year.
From first steps and new beginnings, to progression along a well-worn path, this is an eventful time for the MSC novices.
As each one of these young men explores his faith more deeply, drawing on the beauty and serenity of the West Cork countryside in their contemplation, they are taking fundamental steps on the journey towards religious life and the true understanding of what a vocation to missionary work really means.