Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Vow Day Gift

A dear friend - Marilyn Madigan - gave me this picture at our vow vigil. She used her great knowledge of Photo Shop to create this eery portrait...and I thank God white is not my color (or lack of color).

"Where there's Death, there's Hope! Vote Ryan for Pope!"

Even my own father found this to be an enormously amusing picture and I thought some of you might find it entertaining, too. Marilyn was able to see the Holy Father back in February and she actually in the pictures - glasses, second from the left, in the gray and black striped shirt. Her cousin, a nun, assisted in this masterpiece.

Sorry I can't get the dang thing to look right - I can't figure out why it won't turn for me.

German and a Trip Into the City

Fordham University's classes began yesterday and, at 9:30 in the morning, I could have been found in German 1001 (aka Baby German). After a summer spent working on my Spanish, this was a jarring transition - the words are harder to spell and I've no sense of how to pronounce anything. As a help to readers, particularly those who are fans of "The Sound of Music" a great lie has been perpetrated for many years: the proper pronunciation of "Frauline Maria" is not "Froy-line Maria" but is, instead, "Frowline Maria." It's not a big deal, I guess, but it's what I learned yesterday.

After class Drew and I spent the day in Manhattan. We walked a lot and saw many of the touristy sites. Indeed, we ran across huge crowds gathered for tonight's VMA's (Video Music Awards). It was so refreshing to see such a thriving city with so many people speaking so many different languages. Our day's trip ended with dinner with Father Karl Kaiser, SJ who happened to be in town meeting with alumni.

The train was PACKED with people on the way home and I stood for the whole trip. As I stood there, my imagination was captivated by the people around me. Many of these were people who had worked all day (it was now 8:00) and they were still in their work uniforms and were probably going home to prepare supper either for themselves or for their families. Many looked tired, relieved, distracted as the listened to their iPod, or nervous. A group of newly trained soldiers of the US Military were with us on our train's segment and they seemed so hopeful as they talked about deployment.

I mention this because it was such a grace-filled reminder of just who it is that I do my studies for. On a bad (ie, selfish) day I get caught up with abstract theological notions that do more to tickle my own intellectual curiosities than they do to help those who need to hear a word of challenge and encouragement. Growing up in a fairly middle-class parish, the people on the bus are the same people who live out the day-to-day martyrdom of faith, the simple acts of believing and trusting in a world that often seems stacked against them. Not that many of them would ever read my blog, but I'd like to think that writing here primes my pump in some way that will enable me through ministry to connect with the concerns of others.

By the by, I'll be in Cleveland next weekend for the First Vow ceremony of Lukas Laniauskas who is the newest member of the Detroit Province. I'll be in Friday and will go home Sunday evening. It'll be nice to stop back at the homestead - I have a ton of books I need for this semester!

Monday, August 28, 2006

I've been Tagged!

It's an idle evening, so I thought I'd surf the 'net for a little bit. Reading Joe's website Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam I see that I've been tagged. I really don't know what this means, but I suspect that I have to answer some questions. So, copying the questions from his site, here are my responses:

1. A book that changed your life.

In the Gloaming by Alice Elliot Dark. I read this collection of short stories in graduate school for a class on narrative and spirituality. The title of the book is the name of the lead-off short story, about a young man who returns home to die of AIDS. It's a powerful narrative of the transformative power of hospitality, of love, and of reconciliation.

2. A book you've read more than once.

I wish I could say that I'd read some deep theological treatise several times over (and for enjoyment, not for my inability to understand it on the first attempt). I cannot. I have read The Little Prince many times and find that, with each reading, I resonate differently with each character. Lately I've been feeling like the fox!

3. A book you'd want on a deserted island.
Hmmmmm, provided I had a lighter, a book with a lot of pages (I might need to build a fire). I'd probably read "The Brothers Karamazov" more because I find that each time I turn back to it, I find something wholly new and different.

4. A book that made you laugh.

"A Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole. Brilliantly funny!

5. A Book you wish had been written.

In light of a conversation I recently had, Naming Grace would be a book that aimed at providing young people (or people of all ages) with a language for naming the graces in their lives. Too often we get stuck on abstract theology and I think what we need is a good primer on how to express our encounters with God, the God we meet in our day-to-day lives.

6. A Book you wish had never been written.

Any book about using the microwave for cooking. There's something just so unnatural about that!

This is the first time I've ever answered such questions. It's been a fun though experiment, one I can enter into without *too* much deep thought!


I've set up a Flickr account (see the cool flash-driven picture box on the right? Click it!!) so that people can see pictures of vows.

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

I'm just back from a weekend spent at the Jogues Retreat house in Cornwall, NY. There the Ciszek Hall community was able to gather in order to have time for faith sharing and socializing. I'm deeply honored to be counted among such a talented pool of men and I look forward to spending the next few years here at Ciszek.

Now, let's start: Kudos to Michael and Brian English who will be returning today from their first trip to Ireland. The boys represented (well, I might add) the USA at the Fleadh this past weekend. Although neither returns with a medal (this year) I'm at a loss for words to express how proud I am of each of them. Medals are nice, but they collect dust; memories, which they have many, last forever and will nourish their music in ways unimaginable. So boys, welcome home and get to've school in the morning!

Speaking of school, my own classes begin this week. I'll be taking Plato, Aristotle, Theological Anthropology, and German. I'm definitely going to have a lot of work to do this semester, but I think I'll manage. Drew Marquard and I are together for three of the four classes (he's taking Greek instead of German) so the Detroit Province will be represented well in our classes.

A package with two CD's of pictures arrived today, so I'm going to sort through them and post a few online. If I can find a way to use another website to host my pictures, I'll put a link up to that as well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On-Line at Fordham

So I'm now fairly settled in my (rather spacious) room at Ciszek Hall here at Fordham. Later today I'll meet with my academic advisor and we'll try to piece together something of a schedule of courses - all I know is that I'm going to take Aristotle and Plato and, I hope, begin a study of the German language.

The transition has been relatively easy thus far. For those who are interested, my new aol screenname is ryandunssj and I'll try to leave it on most of the time. In addition, my computer has a kickin' web cam so you can see me if you are so inclined.

I'd ask for prayers this weekend: Michael and Brian English will be representing the USA at the Fleadh in Ireland. It's a great honor to qualify to compete at the "Olympics of Irish Music" (as one might think of them) and I know that they will be bolstered by your thoughts and prayers.

Classes begin next Wednesday so I'm sure that I"ll have just loads of things to write about then. I suspect, too, that I'll begin doing ministry and if my experiences at the hospital are any indication I'll more than likely use this space to process my pastoral encounters.

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Wounded Knower

The Wounded Knower

Today marks the two-year anniversary of my entrance into the Society of Jesus. It's been a wild ride in so very many ways!

I fly to NYC tomorrow and will (hopefully) settle quickly into my new digs at Ciszek Hall at Fordham. Look for more posts later this week!

Friday, August 18, 2006


This is just a quick post as I unpack from my holiday in Toronto and prepare to return to Canada via Windsor for tomorrow's feis.

Brother John Moriconi, SJ, has put together a website for podcasts. For those of you who know how to do such things (I must confess that I do not yet know how, really, but have great hopes of learning in the very near future) you are able to download his reflections on scripture and listen to them on your iPod.

If you are so inclined, do stop by and have a listen! The link to his site is located on the right hand side of the page.

Monday, August 14, 2006

CPE Group Photo

Ruth, Patrick, Ryan, and Paula -- all alums of Loyola Medical Center's CPE Program.

First Pic

A picture from the reception. These are two of my cousins, Owen and Coleman Hagan.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Vow Day!

So today I dropped the "n" from "nSJ" and I've become officially "Ryan G. Duns, SJ". Today's ceremony was beautiful and I hope to post pictures of it on here very soon...just like I still want to post pictures from my trip to Cuzco!

The best part of the weekend was being able to spend time with those who are so important to me. Anne Hall came in after doing a feis and my friend Greg drove in after a wedding in Buffalo; Jeff and Nick came in from Cleveland and scores of family members made their way in to Detroit. The love and support I experienced these last two days is really only an indication of what a wonderful group of people I have in my life and, in no small way, the vows I pledged today will incarnate themselves in ways highly contoured and nuanced due to their influences.

Of special note: The SMMSJ (Society of Mothers of Members of the Society of Jesus) was particularly active - from Mother Nancy Loren I received an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Giada DeLaurentis' new book. I'm so excited! And from Mother Loretta MarquardI received a very fine trinket box with a wooden cross inset on the cover along with an engraved medal of St Ignatius. Mother Michele Duns, I'm sure, is working on embroidering something or another or trying to find individualized kegs for each of us.

I'm exhausted. In fact, given my normally cheery disposition it may be hard to believe but my face actually hurts from smiling so much today - yes, that many pictures were taken!

Grace and peace be with all of you. On to Fordham!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Regarding Gifts for Vows

I hate to be guache, but I'd like to say a word about gifts as I've received several emails asking about them.

The short answer: a card is nice, but don't send money (unless it is in off-shore accounts) or cheques or gift cards or my grandfather's dentures (or some other strange personal item!!). If a gift is given, it has to be turned over to the community. This being said, donations can be made to the Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus (which I'm quite sure they'll take with much gratitude). Truthfully, the best gift you can offer is to remember me in your prayers.

So that's that. I'm off to pray!

Few and Far Between

So I'm beginning my pre-vow Triduum retreat out here at the Colombiere Center in Clarkston, MI. This retreat begins three months after my 8-day retreat began back on May 8th. In that time I've been to Chicago, Cincy, LA, Lima, Cuzco, Omena, and Detroit! A lot of travel to be sure.

The next few days will be spent preparing spiritually and psychologically for vows. Following the vow ceremony on Sunday, I'll be off to Toronto and then on to Fordham so I will probably not be posting again until after the 22nd of August. Check back, though, as I may find time to put some pictures up on the net.

Peace and Prayers,


Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I'm on Vacation until the 12th so there will be no new posts until then.


Flute playing priest finds YouTube fame