House of Brigid 2009-10

House of Brigid 2009-10

16 February 2010

Teach Bhríde 2010-11

It seems impossible to believe that the community has reached the point when it has become necessary to think about next year. Some days, it seems like Chris, Martha, and I only just arrived in Wexford last week! However, that time indeed has arrived, and so I spent this past week conducting interviews with several candidates who applied for a place in next year's House of Brigid community. All of the applicants were incredibly qualified, which made the final decision very difficult, but after a period of intentional prayer and discernment, the selection committee reached its conclusion.

We've had a running joke in the House these past few weeks, with Chris and Martha accusing me of callously replacing them, casting them aside after they've so selflessly given a year of their lives. I, of course, reply that they're irreplaceable, but that I'm going to do my best and try to replace them anyway. Joking aside, though, it's more like finding successors than replacements, because each member of Teach Bhríde will have brought something utterly unique as the community hopefully continues year after year, and it is with that joy and hope of continual renewal that I introduce the three young people who have committed to serving with me in Teach Bhríde beginning this coming September.

Jessica Mannen, House Director-in-Training. Jessica graduated from Notre Dame in 2009 with Bachelor's degrees in Music Theory and Theology, and has spent this past year working as the music intern in the Office of Campus Ministry. She has sung with the Notre Dame Folk Choir for several years now, served as Music Director for NDVision (2009-10), and has spent the past year or so starting a program that teaches music to teenagers at the Juvenile Justice Center of South Bend. Jessica has committed to two years in Wexford, and will take over for me as House Director for 2011-12.

Clarisa Ramos, Volunteer. Clarisa will graduate from Notre Dame this year with her Bachelor's degree in Vocal Performance, and has been a member of the Folk Choir since her freshman year. She has also been a featured soloist on the University of Notre Dame PrayerCast, as well as the most recent Folk Choir recording, Songs of Saints and Scholars. Clarisa has a great deal of experience with liturgical planning, and as a high school student, she took on the challenge of increasing student participation at school Masses. She has served this past year as Folk Choir President, was also involved in NDVision as a musician (2008), and spent last summer in Peru teaching music to children in grades 3-5.

Patrick Duffey, Volunteer. Patrick will graduate from Notre Dame this year with a Bachelor's degree in English and a supplementary major in History. He has been a bass in the Folk Choir since his freshman year, and is also an excellent guitarist. This year he serves as Folk Choir Secretary, and was involved as well in Jessica's music program for the Juvenile Justice Center. Patrick has planned on applying to Teach Bhríde since before the community even had a name; he has followed its development very closely, and cannot wait to come to Wexford. He has spent previous summers teaching math to underprivileged children, working at a camp for children with cancer, and was a musician for NDVision in 2008 alongside Jessica and Clarisa.

I feel humbled by the selflessness and inspired by the talents of these young people, and look forward to the new ideas and perspectives they will bring to the community and its work in the parish. True, life in Teach Bhríde will never be the same next year without Chris and Martha, but their work will provide the foundation for the work of next year's community, and we can all say a prayer of gratitude that Jessica, Clarisa, and Patrick followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit in offering to spend the next year (or two) of their lives in service to the Irish Catholic Church. May St. Brigid continue to intercede for all of us as we continuously strive to inspire all whom we encounter with a greater love for Christ and His Gospel.

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