In the midst of a severe mid-April snowstorm, the community of the Holy Angels Brotherhood Novitiate, SSPX made the six-hour drive from Winona to Browerville, MN.
The brothers spent Good Shepherd weekend (April 13-15) with the parishioners of the nearby Long Prairie chapel and school.
Traditionally, a special collection for the support of vocations is made on Good Shepherd Sunday. As Christ is the Shepherd of men’s souls, leading them through the forest of this life into living pastures, the Church places emphasis today upon the representatives of Christ on earth, the priests, who are the pastores (shepherds) of the faithful. In this light, the SSPX seminarians have made it a point each year to visit a parish on this day, to promote the priesthood among the young and to interact with the faithful in general. The Brothers of the SSPX- the little-known “guardian angels” or perhaps the “sheep-dogs” of our parishes, helping our priests by their prayers and daily tasks- acted in the same spirit during their stay in Browerville and Long Prairie.
The SSPX Sisters in Browerville provided rooms and meals for the Brothers throughout their three days there, and Fr. Emily led the Brothers and Sisters in praying the Stations of the Cross and the Divine Office. Fr. Dean, the Brothers’ Novice Master, celebrated the Mass there on Saturday morning.
Several of the Brothers attended the Eucharistic Crusaders’ meeting on Saturday, and all the Brothers were given the chance to be measured for new cassocks by a generous seamstress and parishioner of St. John Vianney Parish.
In the evening, the parish hosted a cook-out for Fr. Dean and the Brothers. Parishioners and Brothers joined together in several rounds of Knock-out and a football game, despite the blizzard outside; others stayed in and played chess and ping-pong until dinner. During the meal, Fr. Dean introduced and explained the Brothers, their way of life, and their special mission in the SSPX. A question/answer session followed, peppered with such questions as: “Do I need a particular calling to enter the religious life?”, “What sort of education do I need to be a Brother?”, and “Do the Brothers play kickball?” The night concluded with more games and socializing.
Fr. Dean offered a High Mass for the parish, sung by the Brothers, on that special Sunday. His sermon summarized the theme which inspired the whole visit: what is the religious life about? Afterwards the parishioners gathered with the religious community for breakfast, conversation and a brief conference. The Brothers, returning to Winona through a thick blizzard, continued their life of prayer and work the following day, and still recall with joy the few, happy days of their visit.