One of my favorite authors talks about the God of surprises. My life with God has been like one long party opening God’s surprising gifts. The first gift was my family, who named me Kenneth Davis. And I currently enjoy the gift of serving St. Joseph Seminary College in Louisiana as the visiting professor of spirituality. And as I tell the undergraduates here all the time, technology they take for granted seems like Star Trek to me.
In 1973 my parish in Louisville, KY offered a youth retreat, which I attended more interested in my friends than where the event would be held. However, the retreat was held at Mt. St. Francis and several friars in formation served. All were my age, but seemed imbued with joy and fraternal love. I remember thinking, “I want what they have.” I was ordained in 1985 and professed in 1980.
After joining the friars, I volunteered for our missions in Central America. At that time anyone who went to the missions served for decades, and that was my assumption. However, Fr. Juniper surprised me by sending me to serve the Hispanic community in Chicago. Although I spoke Spanish, I had no understanding of this community, and therefore, the same provincial allowed me to earn my doctorate in ministry focusing on US Hispanics. A further surprise was when our current provincial (now in another term in office) sent me to teach seminarians. I never would have volunteered for the assignment. But I have been involved in that ministry ever since to my great delight. God knows what He is doing. Along the way I have published some twelve books, fifty articles, and recorded a few conferences.
However, I have come to appreciate as Pope Francis teaches that the personal touch is what counts. No one remembers anything I published or taught or any awards I garnered. But during corona virus many people have reached out to me because I had earned their trust. Yet another surprise!
I claim no special talent, but I enjoy playing historically accurate video games. Currently I play a civil war game and hope to jump into a new one about the American Revolution. As I look back on the many surprises of my life, I am not surprised by the kind generosity of our benefactors, which has made it all possible. I am not surprised because so many for so long have shown me that goodness and kindness from the Catholic faithful is always amazing, but never surprising. Gracias!