August 5, 2013
They definitely took the plunge.
In what is sure to become a tradition in the Paulist community, five men came from around the country to explore and experience the Paulist community during the 2013 Paulist Plunge. This marks the second year for the event held July 29 through Aug. 3 at the beauteous mountain-lake setting of St. Mary’s on the Lake, the Paulist retreat house on Lake George, N.Y.
Paulist Vocation Director Father Larry Rice said the Plunge is a chance for potential Paulists to get to know about the community and its members in an idyllic, informal setting.
“The Paulist Plunge is a unique opportunity to for these men to get to know more about the Paulists and Paulist spirituality in a place where you can truly see the hand of God,” Father Rice said. “There is Mass, prayer, presentations, a boat ride on the lake, swimming and all sorts of things for the Plungers to enjoy. Plus there is the opportunity for them to speak with me and the other Paulists visiting St. Mary’s one-on-one. That kind of interpersonal connection is what can make the difference for these men.”
And it has already made a difference for two returning Plungers who are set to be welcomed as Paulist novices later this month.
Even though he grew up in a parish founded by the Paulists (St. Rose of Lima in Layton, Utah), 22-year-old Evan Cummings found the Paulists on Wikipedia. He was on last year’s inaugural Paulist Plunge, and is now looking forward to becoming a novice.
“I had a great time last year, and am having a great time this year,” said Mr. Cummings, who holds a philosophy degree from Utah State University. “The Plunge is a very successful event; it helped me by being around others who are discerning the same call, learning about living in community and about the Paulists. I like all of the different Paulist ministries, and can see myself doing any of them.”
The journey to the Catholic Church and the priesthood of the Paulist Founder, Servant of God Father Isaac Hecker, is what attracted Plunger and soon-to-be novice Daniel Arthur. Father Hecker was a convert to the Catholic Church in the 19th century as was Mr. Arthur in 2002.
“Seeing what [Hecker] did to find his place in the Church and in American culture really resonated with me,” explained Mr. Arthur, 36, who hails from Huntington Beach, Calif., and has worked as a financial advisor for the past 15 years.
“The Paulist Plunge reaffirmed my decision to apply for the novitiate,” he said. “I got to meet Paulists outside of ministry and to know the Paulist culture.”
The Paulist Plunge was a “great experience” for Mojdi Ammari, a 40-year-old native of Jordan who came to the United States at age 6.
Finding the Paulists through vocationmatch.com, Mr. Ammari said the Plunge increased his confidence that the Paulists were a good match for him.
“You get to really know the spirit of the Paulist Fathers as a community and as individuals informally,” said the 40-year-old Ohio University film graduate.
The hallmark warm and welcoming Paulist spirit is “amazing” to Plunger Carmine Novembre.
“It is the same with everyone I meet in the Paulists,” said Mr. Novembre, a 44-year-old New York City resident who olds master’s degrees in pharmacological medicine and public health. He contacted Father Rice at the suggestion of a non-Paulist priest friend, and was impressed that the community seeks to take an individual’s talents and “expand on them while working in community.”
Having always felt a calling to the priesthood, Mr. Novembre said the Paulist Plunge was “a great start to a yearlong process of discernment.”
It was the special concern the Paulists have for the people not in the pews on Sunday that attracted 38-year-old Daniel Watts to the Paulists.
Mr. Watts, who came to Lake George from Los Angeles, said the Paulist Plunge will be a determining factor in his decision to pursue the Paulist priesthood.
“The Paulists are generous to have us out here [at Lake George],” Mr. Watts said. “And I had a wonderful conversation with Father Rice, who is kind, and humorous and compassionate; very indicative of what a Paulist is. And even if I don’t go any further with this, I came away from the Paulist Plunge with a greater love for Jesus and the Church and my faith invigorated, and a continuing desire to share that faith with others.”