Pictured above bringing Evan to new life in Christ is Msgr. Joseph Peterson, pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Parkersburg, my brother-in-law Ty and my sister Shannon. The photograph, as well as the one directly below, was taken by Shannon and Ty's friend and neighbor, Don Miller. (The other two--taken at the party afterward--were shot by yours truly).
A side note: While visiting the parish, I was struck by how many connections there are with Saint Meinrad. A handful of parishioners introduced themselves to me as Benedictine oblates of Saint Meinrad. Another is a deacon candidate in Saint Meinrad's formation program, and yet another is the brother of the benefactor responsible for Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology's Mader Learning Center.
There are other connections, of course. Many of the monks here--and a couple in particular--prayed for and with Ty and Shannon to be blessed with a child, especially on the occasion of my solemn profession in January 2011 (when the two had been married for four months). Evan was born in June 2012. His name, a variation of John, means "The Lord is gracious." His middle name, Richard, is in tribute to Shannon's (and my) father, Richard, who died 10 years ago this coming May 18 (Evan and I share the same middle name!). Those events 10 years ago started the dominoes falling in terms of my own spiritual awakening and eventual religious vocation.
While I continue with my own journey as a Benedictine monk, it has been wonderful to participate in the mystery of God's salvation at work in Evan and his parents Ty and Shannon, as well as in Evan's half-brother Ian. May God guide all his faithful as we strive to persevere in our commitment to journey with and toward Christ in faith, hope, and love.
God, indeed, is good and gracious!