Good Bye Austria!
It has been 4 years ... we've had many trials, many joys, many memories, much learning, and are coming home with two new Austrian born children. What an experience!
As Becca and I reflect on our journey we of course ask ourselves if it was worth it. Truly, the cost has been great. We sold our home and vehicle, gave up a permanent position teaching in a great school, let my photography business fall into obscurity, gave away most of our possessions, and left our family and friends.
Yet, the gain has been greater. To gain knowledge is a higher good than any material thing. And to draw closer to God and together as a family is a much higher good than any natural state we were in before. Granted, it is plausible that we could've grown together as a family without the big move, but not probable. Unless, one chooses the difficult the path, resists the path of least resistance, unless one suffers and walks through trials - growth tends to be minimal.
So, here we are are, a family of 8. We have grown. Studying philosophy from Plato to St. Thomas, and from Descartes to Kant to Mills has granted an insight into the world and why we think the way we do. Daily Mass with rich liturgical traditions has restructured and re-prioritized our lifestyle. We spend much more time in prayer, celebrate with largess and harmonize our steps to that of our Mother Church. As a family we have wept as Benedict almost died in the hospital our first year here, we fell to our knees in grateful prayer as we walked through the doors of St. Peter's at the Vatican, we sang Christmas songs for the full 12 days of Christmas, lit candles on our tree, shivered in wet snow as we hiked the Dachstein, looked in wonder at the hidden chapel of the salt mines in Poland, screamed with delight on the rides at Legoland in Denmark, and struggled to balance our lives after Thomas' birth and Becca was on bed rest with him for 6 weeks. Through all of this and much more, we have grown together in virtue, holiness, love, and courage.
Here are a couple last events before we sign off:
I. Goodbye Original Sin: Thomas' Baptism: June 5th
The ceremony began outside the Church where Rebecca and I declared our intention to have him baptized and we then brought him into the sanctuary.
Each of us gave him the sign of the cross.
After being exorcized with holy oils, he was baptized and welcomed into the family of God!
Here is our picture with Fr. Luc and Thomas' Godparents: Vince and Evie DeMeo:
II. Goodbye STM Studies: Graduation June 11th
Swearing our oath of fealty, obedience, and submission to the Pope, the Ordinary Magisterium, and the teachings and Traditions of the Church on Scripture, faith and morals.
Kissing the ring of Cardinal Schönborn.
Receiving my degree: Masters Sacred Theology with Honours (Magna cum Laude)
And ... a spontaneous release of exuberance!
I AM FINISHED!
All of us Graduates and professors with our Grand Chancellor Cardinal Schönborn:
III. Goodbye to the Steele Family!
IV. Goodbye DeMeo family:Here is our final hike with the DeMeos to one of our favourite castles.
And thus Tavi had to learn to rock climb a bit as well as hike.
V. Goodbye Austria
8 family members, 5 fully loaded carts, 33 pieces of luggage ...
And so we finish our four years here and begin a new stage of our lives. We'll be moving to Ottawa Ontario to work as a missionary family on Waupoos Farm. At the farm we'll be a part of a small Catholic team of two other families that are coordinating a ministry for poor families throughout the year. We'll help in many ways, including looking after the animals and land and cabins and helping with the ministry. We are very excited to have life on the farm for the next 3 years. Our children will have a chance to grow in many ways and to have the chance to meet many new children. We'll be involved with ministry as a family and being Christ's hands. At the same time I'll be pursuing a doctorate in theology.
Thank you to all those who have followed us through these 4 years and have prayed for us!
God bless you all.
Kenton, Rebecca, Winter, Tristan, Benedict, Kate, Tavi and Thomas