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Who Is Shaping the Future of the Eastern Province?

There are many answers to that question.

At the level of policy, it is first our General Assembly and the Superior General followed by the Provincial Assembly, its members, and the Provincial. At another level, it is a question about who shapes the personnel who will pick up the torch of the mission in the Congregation?

The answer to the second question is actually a team of some 8 Vocation/Formation persons… Fathers Luttenberger, Maher, McKenna, Nguyen, Nolan, Strollo, Timlin, and Delgado Flores in Panama. (Our formation process)

This week marked the acceptance into the Congregation of the Mission of 4 four young men as members of the Province who will spend a year preparing to take vows in the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission.

We have seen a series of posts profiling Noe Garcia, Milton Lara, Wilber Mejia, and Jose Alexander Palacios. Who will be shaping them during this coming year?

Fr. Jack Timlin

Today we focus on Father Jack Timlin. Fresh from being on a one year loan to the Confreres in the Region of Kenya, he returns to his former role as Director of our Internal Seminary. Many visitors to this site will be more familiar with the term “novitiate”. So why do we refer to the “Internal Seminary”? Because Vincent wanted us to be clear that we were not technically religious but simply “priests living in community”.

Fr. Jack had literally just returned some 72 hours earlier. He took a quick break in the midst of preparations for welcoming four new members of the Congregation as they begin this year of formation. He is delighted to be back in his neighborhood in the Germantown area. His infectious enthusiasm already replaced any remnants of jet lag from the day-long journey from Africa.

Virtually the first words out of his mouth… “I got so much more than I gave!”

He was clearly impressed with the foundational work of the confreres from our Western Province and  their close collaboration in ministry with the Vincentian Family especially the Daughters of Charity. From contacts in Kenya, it is clear how much he was loved both by the confreres and the seminarians.

Many of you may be aware of how tribal culture and factionalism is a significant problem through Africa. In particular, he was struck by the emphasis on building a Vincentian culture based on a community of prayer and service of the poor.

He was quick to elaborate that his experience this past year ranks with two other life-changing assignments in inner-city Brooklyn and the diversity of Greensboro, NC. No stranger to the work of formation he has also served as Director of the Daughters of Charity in what was then the Emmitsburg Province.

Fr. Jack is Philadelphia born and bred. He looks forward to returning to his roots. He feels that his intercultural experience of the past years has enriched him greatly. In Kenya, he experienced a multicultural environment which allowed him to develop new yet transferable skills returning home to his beloved “neighborhood”.

“We have some really great young men who just completed their first year of formation as members of the Congregation. I have met the incoming group. They are also really fine people.”  The new class will come from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

Along with deepening their initial experience of Vincentian culture he hopes to introduce them to the wider Vincentian Family.

He also looks forward to exploring the use of the internet to connect those in formation here and in Kenya. (It reminds me of an intercontinental prayer service some years ago when the Golden Jubilarians of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, KY celebrated via Skype with their counterparts in Botswana. Their joy at meeting one another was palpable even over the Internet.)

The Eastern Province is truly blessed to have these four men cast their lot with the poor and marginalized and have their formation under the guidance of Fr. Jack Timlin.

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