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On Friday I headed out to attend a couple of vocation events. First, I traveled to Manhattan, Kansas for the Kansas Catholic College Student Convention. There were close to 300 students at the event and I set up a display promoting the monks of Conception Abbey. It was good to see so many Catholic college students from all over Kansas attending this event which featured several speakers, worship music, and smaller breakout sessions.

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Since it was an off-campus weekend, some of our seminarians attended the event.  Here I am with some fine examples of our seminarians.

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Early Sunday morning I flew from Kansas City to Houston, and then took a ground shuttle to College Station to the campus of Texas A&M University.
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At St. Mary’s Catholic church in student center, I helped out with a busy student retreat. There were several religious men and women helping out with this retreat. I was one of four priests, and we had a great group of religious women helping out as well. I had seven students that I was directing for the retreat and I met with them for 30 minutes each day for spiritual direction. I gave them scripture passages to reflect on during the day, and we met the next day to discuss some of their insights from their meditations.
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The Catholic presence at Texas A&M University is very impressive. From the very moment I arrived, I was struck by the great hospitality shown to all of us. The students were very friendly and joyful and the faith life is alive and vibrant. It is so hard to believe how many different student events occur each day, and all the various opportunities offered for the students to grow in their faith. The staff at St. Mary’s was absolutely an amazing and very hospitable. It is all very encouraging to witness and it instills a lot of hope for the future of the church.

I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass for the students on Tuesday evening. There are more than 200 students who regularly attend daily Mass. We also had a gathering for the students to meet the religious men and women on Tuesday evening. We shared with all of them the joy and blessings of committing our lives to Christ, and showed them that religious have a good sense of humor too!
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My meetings were mostly scheduled in the mornings, which was nice, because it left the afternoons somewhat flexible for me to get outside and explore campus. The weather was absolutely beautiful, in the 70s and 80s, and I enjoyed going outside for exercise, or just walking campus.

Below:  Sister and I took turns trying out a longboard.

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Below:  I spent my free time on Thursday at the Student Recreation Center on campus.  I climbed the rock wall five times.  My arms are sore!
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Upon my return to Kansas City, I traveled to Columbia, Missouri to attend the NOVA (Night of Vocation Awareness) benefit dinner for the Diocese of Jefferson City.  Abbot Gregory and Fr. Samuel also represented the monastic community at this fundraiser event.  It was a nice evening and good to see many of our priest alumni.  We even got a picture with Pope Francis!

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