The Journey Continues: Letters Home, 1965 – 67 – Part 14

These last two journey letters were written in Manitoba as the Philosopher Jesuit began a new phase of his Jesuit formation; he becomes a Regent, Mr. Obrigewitsch, S.J. (Note in these two letters the importance of adaptability, evident in the young Jesuit’s formation since the novitiate. When he arrives home from EXPO, the day before classes begin, his teaching  assignment has changed significantly!)

The following two letters spell the end of the letter writing era in his journey. In the letters from the Mount there were references to “tapes”. These reel to reel tapes were recorded and sent back and forth in lieu of letters. In Winnipeg, the proximity of ‘home’ (in Saskatchewan), ease of making visits (as noted in the August 23rd letter he visited home again before beginning his work at St. Paul’s), and less expensive access to telephone obviated the need for letter communication. Whatever the reason, the recording of his journey in letters ceased in Winnipeg, although the journey did not!

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St Paul’s High School

2200 Grant Ave

Tuxedo 29, Manitoba

R3P 0P8

August 23, 1967

Dear Mum and Dad,

It is time I sat down to send you greetings, to thank you for the wonderful time I had at home with you, and to tell you that I arrived safely in Winnipeg despite the hour and ó wait at the station in Regina. The past week has not kept me too busy. I have spent many hours reading and pondering texts I will be using in the courses [I will be teaching].

A couple of days after arriving, I found out exactly what my teaching load will be, namely, one Literature and speech in grade 11, two Latin classes in grade 9, and one or two literature classes in grade 9.

Bonic will be teaching three grade nine classes science and French. All this doesn’t look like much written here on paper but looking at the texts etc it will keep us fairly well busy.

The trip back to Winnipeg was uneventful. I slept practically all the way. I feel pretty well at home now and that is because the rest of the community here is a marvel. All of the fathers here are gems. Bonic arrived a couple days ago and Gerry Shea [another regent] just arrived last night. So now all of the teaching scholastics are here except Paul Murphy.

A strange thing has happened in the last few days. One of the fathers was supposed to go down to EXPO with a group of students from Winnipeg. Somehow he already was at expo and was not that anxious to go again. So he asked one of the scholastics if he would like to go.

Well that scholastic said yes but that was a long time ago and hasn’t gotten back to Winnipeg so I was asked to take his place. So tomorrow sometime I leave for Montreal and EXPO. Isn’t that something.

The trip will take one week– three days travel– and about three days at EXPO. I’ll send a postcard. (You know how I hate trains but I guess I’ll just have to suffer through it all.)

Well I’m going go sign off for now. I’m well settled in my lovely room here and have Karen and Frances’ [nieces] beer bottle couple on my book shelf. Slowly the room is developing a homey personality.

I’ve had those masses arranged with the father in charge of those things (The masses grandmother and grandfather asked for) and am remember all of those intentions in my prayers too. I’m praying that the weather will remain harvest weather for you, and also for all of you.

Love

Frank

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St Paul’s High School

2200 Grant Ave

Winnipeg, Manitoba

R3P 0P8

September 18 , 1967

Dear Mum, Dad and all

Sorry for the long silence. You wouldn’t believe what the last few week have been like. EXPO was terrific and I’m glad I had the stroke of luck to get there. One good thing was travelling with some of the boys from St. Paul’s it gave me an introduction to the High School mentality and also gave me a few names to use when classes began.

We got back just before school started and wow. I had classes to prepare and courses to set up, but it wasn’t until the weekend that I got my English course set up for the year.

Oh yes, just in case I didn’t tell you, I’m teaching 3 grade 11 English classes, about 98 boys, and 3 grade nine Latin classes, another 90 some boys. The English includes compositions, so with 90 odd essays to correct weekly, classes to prepare and also my little Latin student to take care of, things are rather hectic.

It seems I’m also supposed to be a drama director so right now I’m looking around for a 1 act play about 20 minutes long for an all male cast. I’m supposed to have it done by the end of October so that leaves me very little time.

It is part of a centennial project + we will take it to Montreal. So that means perhaps another trip down east– I don’t know if I could stand another train trip this year. Maybe we’ll fly or maybe the whole thing will fall thru. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.*

Thanks mum for the shirts, socks, handkerchiefs and pants. They are just what I need + they are all lovely. I just got them and my conscience began to bother me about this letter.

How’s the harvest going? I hope that you didn’t get any of the rain we got last week. This letter appals me. I’d never let any of my students get away with this kind of writing, spelling or train of thought. Tom Bonic won’t let me read any of his written works (letters or otherwise) because he saw how I marked my students’ papers.

Things are busy here but in another week or so the daily activity will become routine +so not as hectic. I can’t wait.

Keep me in your prayers. You are always in mine and once again thank you for the

parcel.

Love

Frank

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*Addendum:

The chosen play was Box and Cox with three actors, recommended by Father Jack Murray, S.J. -Frank Luce, Robert Guiguere, and Guy Chamberlain  took with them to Montreal a small suitcase of costumes and props. (The regent had to stay in Winnipeg to teach his classes.) Friend Terry Prendergast, S.J., a regent at Loyola High School in Montreal, promised to take them under his wing which he did. Guy Chamberlain won the award as best actor.

Footnote:

After two years regency at St Paul’s the journey continued at Regis College, in Willowdale, Ontario, where the young Jesuit began the next phase of formation as a theologian. He was ordained sub-deacon and deacon in 1971, and then a priest in 1972;

Having completed his last formal formation as a Tertian, he pronounced his final solemn vows as a Jesuit on April 22, 1978; for over forty years he has served in different capacities, teacher, chaplain, administrator, in three different Jesuit schools (St. Paul’s in Winnipeg, Loyola in Montreal, and Campion in Regina).

In 2015 he was missioned to be pastor at St. Ignatius Parish in Winnipeg. His journey as a Jesuit continues there….

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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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