Three New Novices are Welcomed to Belleville

Belleville, IL

By Will Shaw

(L-R) Fr. Humphrey Milimo, Christopher Streetman, Juan Javier Ruiz, Jan Pawel Szaflarski, Fr. Frank Kuczera

A small, Covid-masked crowd gathered at Christ the King Chapel on the grounds of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, IL on August 17, 2020 to officially welcome the 2020 – 2021 class of Novices. Three young men signed the official register of novices on Monday morning in front of a gathering of Oblates, Pre-novices and formators.

The Novices at the ceremony were: Juan Javier Ruiz of Houston, Texas, Christopher Streetman of Breese, Illinois and Jan Pawel Szaflarski of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. They join Novice Master, Fr. Frank Kuczera, OMI, and Associate Director, Fr. Humphrey Milimo, OMI for a year of prayer and study. The Novitiate is temporarily housed in the new Henri Tempier Pre-novitiate on the grounds of the Shrine while the Immaculate Heart of Mary Novitiate in Godfrey, IL undergoes a two-year renovation.

Fathers Mark Dean and Humphrey Milimo led the gathering in song and prayer before a homily by Fr. Art Flores, OMI, Vicar-provincial for Personnel. Fathers Kuczera and Milimo then invited the young men to sign the official Record of Reception. The ritual ended with the singing of “Salve, Regina” and was followed by a celebratory luncheon at the the Shrine Visitor’s Center.

The gathering is safely masked and socially-distanced

Fr. Art Flores, OMI welcomed the young men and reminisced about his novitiate year

The young men professed their desire to further their discernment of the Lord’s call to them.

One-by-one the men sign the register. here, it is Jan Pawel Szaflarski’s turn.

At the end of the ceremony, Fr. Kuczera invites the audience to welcome the new novices

At The luncheon we see (L-R) Oblate Fathers Humphrey Milimo, David Kalert, and Pre-novice, Marlowe Romero.

New novice, Juan Javier Ruiz soaks up wisdom from Fr. Tom Singer, OMI

(L-R) Shrine Manager, Beth Mertz, Shrine Director, David Uribe, and Pre-novice Master, Juan Gaspar enjoying the occasion