The weekend before last, I was very fortunate to make a vocational visit with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. I spent three days and three nights at the Shrine of Christ the King on the southside of Chicago, Illinois. Two priests, three oblates, and two candidates live and work at the Shrine. During my stay I was graciously welcomed with great hospitality among the community.
Here’s how my visit unfolded:
Friday, April 23
I arrived in Chicago from Phoenix at 3 o’ clock. John, a candidate, drove me from Midway airport to the Shrine. After greeting the community, Canon Talarico immediately found an assignment for me. For about and hour or so, I sat in a parlor and folded about two hundred pamphlets for that weekend’s devotional schedule. Thankfully Nick, another candidate from Omaha, prepared a pizza for me afterwards. I then briefly met with Canon Talarico, who explained to me a little more about the charism and the mission of the Institute. Later that evening, I was introduced to chanting the Divine Office in the Shrine’s beautifully appointed priory chapel. I was pleasantly surprised at dinner, when I heard chamber music being played while we ate. I thought that was very classy! After dinner a seminarian taught me how to properly set a European dinner table.
Saturday, April 24
The day started at 7:25 with morning prayer in the Shrine church. I soon learned that the church had no heat and that my v-neck sweater was not enough to keep me from shivering! Morning prayer was followed by Low Mass and devotions to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. After a nice breakfast, I was assigned to help Abbe Rous with cleaning a few statues and religious painting which the Institute obtained for their Sisters’ convent in St. Louis from a closed monastery in West Virginia. Abbe and I had a very interesting time trying to heave an incredibly heavy marble statue of the Sacred Heart just across the hall! Abbe then mentored me in the praying of the Breviary. Following the chanting of Sext, I met again with Canon Talarico. As a community, we had a Holy Hour of prayer for our Holy Father Pope Benedict. Then came dinner and some well-needed sleep.
Sunday, April 25
We were able to sleep in a bit on Sunday because High Mass was not until 10 0′ clock. After a wonderfully festive High Mass celebrated in honor of the Divine Infant Jesus we treated ourselves to a very hearty brunch. After brunch I again met with Canon Talarico and learned about applying to the Institute. That afternoon I helped Abbe Georg with cleaning the Shrine church. I windexed the windows, vacuumed the vestibule, and posted signs notifying the faithful that the blessed sacrament had been removed for that evening’s concert. After a very pleasant classical concert we held another Holy Hour in the church.
Monday, April 26
My final day at the Shrine began with Morning Prayer and Mass. After breakfast, I met for a final time with Canon Talarico. After helping John do some work in the priory basement, I packed up for the journey home. After a quick lunch prepared by Abbe Georg we chanted Midday Prayers. After wishing everyone farewell, I was whisked away to the airport.
Now, back in Phoenix, I look forward to the future and remain optimistic about my vocational horizons.
To learn more about the great work of the Institute in America and throughout the world, please visit: www.institute-christ-king.org.