The Journey Continues: Letters Home from Philosophy Studies, 1965 – 67 – Part 11

As indicated in the previous letters, the philosopher is beginning to tire of ‘studies’. But there is excitement for the completion of the new swimming pool and the joy of the visit of Father Farrell, someone from home. His 24th birthday slips by and Easter, and he is beginning to look forward to graduation, and to the priesthood with minor orders impending!

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Mount Saint Michael

Spokane, Washington 99207

March 7, 1967

Dear Mum and Dad,

Thanks very much for the letter. As usual my letter is late in getting off. Right now I just got through a term paper and was too tired to plough through any more of Kant (a 19th Century Philosopher), so I thought it a good time to write a letter.

Frank’s portrait

It’s too bad you are having such terrible weather. Right now the skies [in Spokane] are sunny and they have been that way for the past two weeks. It is really funny how we almost lost the sun over the winter, and with the middle of Feb., the skies cleared and the world is bright and cheery.

I hope your weather improves for Easter. Last night I noticed that the tulips are already 2 inches out the ground down at Gonzaga. They will probably be blooming by Easter.

You will have to send me a picture of Matt in his new shirt. It was sort of a surprise to realize the Matt isn’t such a little brother really. . . . I mean he’ll be 14 in May. I remember when I was 14. I certainly didn’t consider myself young then. But now I have to or I’d have to consider myself on my last leg.

Did I tell you about that rock crushing plant they were going to set up on the hill opposite to our graveyard? We fought to keep it from going up with any reasonable legal method we could, but we weren’t successful. They were just going to go ahead with the project.

Well, they brought up their cats and trucks to the hill and began to dig and bore holes into the rock to find out how thick the rock really was. To their surprise and our joy, they found out there was only a cap of rock on the top of a hill of clay.

Since this would not be enough to make the project pay off, they abandoned it. They joked about it in the paper saying they wondered how much rock there would have been on that hill three months ago before the Fathers on the mount began praying.

The plasterers were a little late in coming so the finishing of the [swimming] pool has been delayed a little. We’re hoping to be in in about 6 weeks.

Thanks very much for the recipe for cheese perogys. I’m going to have to try to make them myself out at the villa at Easter time. Making a little batch doesn’t look too hard. (I supposed that’s always what an amateur cook says when he looks at a recipe.)

There was something I was going to tell you but can’t remember right now. I’ll tell you first of the St. Patrick’s deal and maybe it will come [back to mind]. We got together a choir to sing a couple songs at the St. Pat’s Show at G.U. on the 16th.

The first song is a song called “Maria” (with a long I) it is a sort of western song. The other one is “The night She Cried in my Beer”, a Barber shop quartet type of song with funny words. The “Woof ‘n Warps” are going to do a couple songs also. We haven’t got them down to perfection yet, but considering we only started learning them a few days ago, they’re not bad.

I did remember. You remember Father Farrell who was rector at Campion when I was in Grade 11, and rector at Guelph while I was there. His is now mission director for our Province [of the Society of Jesus in English speaking Canada].

During the past half year he visited our missions in India and Canada and is now travelling to all the houses where Canadian Jesuits are staying to tell them about the missions. He was here this past weekend to talk to us. They are now starting a new policy on the missions.

Anyone can be sent to the missions now, and even for regency (the three years teaching [scholastic Jesuits formation] before going to [study] theology). So who knows. I might end up even in India some day. The night before Father left, we had a little party.

We left for Gonzaga at about 5:30 and Father said Mass for us (we had a folk Mass). After Mass we had a lovely little supper  (Pizza and fried chicken cooked by one of the lads here, Peter Byrne. You wouldn’t believe how well he cooks, mum. He said he learned when he was at college. He lived in an apartment or something and so he ended up learning to cook for himself.)

We talked for a long time after dinner. Father told us all about his adventures in Egypt and Rome on his trip back. After that we hauled out the musical instruments and sang a few songs. It was really an enjoyable evening. It was nice too getting all the Canadians together. We haven’t done anything like that since Juniorate at Guelph, that is, with this particular group of Canadians.

Well, I’d best be back to my dear Kant [a philosopher]. The paper is due on the thirteenth and the rate I’m working, it won’t be done by the thirteenth of next month. I will try to write sooner next time. You are always in my prayers. I count on yours.

Love

Frank

[Hand written]

P.S. You asked what were my majors. I will get my B.A. with a major in Philosophy, but I will also have a major in English Literature. So I will probably teach English in regency + also some Latin. I could also teach a general science course to lower high school (9 + 10) for I have quite a few credits in that field too. That’s what happens when you spend so many years in college.

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Mount Saint Michael

Spokane, Washington 99207

March 22, 1967

Dear Mum, Dad and all,

Well here I am, still alive after those miserable exams. I wouldn’t have believed it possible to get through them (and I’m not certain I did get through one of them– we shall hope.)

Thank you very much for your letters, your birthday cars, your Easter cards and especially for the gifts. The shirt is absolutely beautiful and the pyjamas are just perfect. It was all a delightful surprise. You are just too good to me.

And the food was delicious. The fudge disappeared very quickly, and the cake, pop-corn balls, and (I don’t know what the name of the squares are) followed suit soon after. You received many compliments mum.

It doesn’t look as though things are going to slow down here until I leave. We are just finished exams, but now I have to get busy and write three more term papers and prepare for two 30 minute reports. Besides that I have to prepare for an hour oral exam on all the philosophy we covered in the past two years. This exam is at the end of May.

So you see two months is not very much even for just this school work. Right now we are having Minor Orders classes, and in the beginning of May we will receive the tonsure and the other minor orders. It’s sure a reminder that Major Orders (subdeacon, deacon and priesthood) are not very far away now, only 6 years. (That’s not very long when one considers it’s already been six years.)

We are also starting to bear down on our play [Henry IV part 1 by Shakespeare] which will be presented in the beginning of April. Instead of going to villa many of us will practice at home during the Easter holidays. That will also give me a chance to get some of my papers started for the second half of the semester.

WooofnWarp

Remember I was telling you about singing at the St. Pat’s show on the 16th of March. Well, the choir did very well and so did our little group, “6 of the Woof ‘n Warp.” Joe Keenan’s Dad came up to visit him from Winnipeg that week end and invited us to come down to sing for him at his motel the evening of my birthday. We had a lovely time.

When he came he brought each of the members of our little singing group a box of 25 matches with gold letters on them saying “6 of the Woof ‘n Warp”. We were really tickled with the gift. I’ll enclose one in this letter.

Well, I’d best be off. I have a few daily ordos [the detailed instructions for the activities of the day] to type up for the Easter weekend that have to be posted today and a few other little odds and ends that are part of my “beadle” job.

May God bless all of you this Easter. You will be in my prayers during the next few days especially. As always, I count on your prayers.

Love,

Frank

P.S. I hope the weather improves there. During the past few days it has been rainy here. Maybe it will clear up for Easter.

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Photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

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