Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Glorious and Erudite Chronicle of the History of the Sodality of Garcia Diego

Note: All the previous posts were written by Sean. I am Skylar, one of the other members of this collaborative blog. The others will hopefully be writing posts shortly.

 If anybody is reading this blog who is not involved in writing it or does not know us personally, the question may arise; who are we and how did our group come together? As we continue our journey through the Advent season, the beginning of the liturgical year, it seems like a good time to write down the events of the past year or so which resulted in this sodality becoming a reality. The other purpose for doing this is to show other people in the area that we are a friendly group of people who would welcome you, and to inspire others to form similar groups around the world.

About half of us did not grow up in the Santa Barbara area. Moving to a new area as a Catholic, and making solid Catholic friendships, can be a challenge. This is especially so for young adults in the college town of Santa Barbara, where many people move away after a few years. As you will find in another post, this problem is one which our group is having to overcome even more drastically than expected. However, by taking advantage of opportunities that God brings to us, it is possible to build real Catholic connections of brotherhood and sisterhood. It is generally excepted that there are six founding members of the Sodality. This is not to denigrate anyone else as friends and members. I would say that around 20 people have attended at least one of our events so far, counting very informal gatherings. However, it is quite clear that Anthony, Nikki, Michael, Sean, Matt, and myself (Skylar) were most involved in developing the vision of this group, and in doing what was needed to keep it going.

We came from several different parishes in the local area, particularly St Mark’s University Parish, Our Lady of Sorrows and Old Mission Santa Barbara. (We also have members from St Rafael’s Parish and perhaps a couple others).  Our backgrounds are in many ways quite diverse. Matt and I are grad students at UCSB, who moved to Santa Barbara just a few years ago. Anthony, a Santa Barbara local, met Nikki while they were both attending Hillsdale College in Michigan. Having settled in Santa Barbara after college, they got engaged earlier this year and will be married on January 4! Michael and Sean are Santa Barbara locals. Sean and I are relatively recent converts to the faith, while the other four co-founders have likely attended mass every week of their lives. Some of us have attended Tridentine Latin masses and Eastern Rite liturgies, while others such as myself are learning about these traditions more recently. We have a diverse set of careers (about half of which could be described as related to the sciences). Matt does not drink alcohol, while the rest of us do indulge in strong drink. However, despite these and other differences, we have essential things in common; wide-ranging interests in theology, church history, local history, politics, literature (especially GK Chesterton), and, most importantly, the practice of Catholic liturgy, with a significant leaning toward traditional modes of liturgical practice.

 Matt and I have been friends for nearly three years. We met for the first time at a dinner for grad students at St Mark’s Parish. We soon found ourselves involved in a variety of young adult groups at St Mark’s, including a graduate student group, the Search retreat, the Frassati Fellowship (a currently inactive group in partnership with St Rafael’s young adult ministry), a men’s group called Fraternitas Fidei, a bible study, and more. We were also part of a more informal group of close friends, most of whom were undergrads. Matt and I always knew that we would be staying in Santa Barbara longer than many, perhaps most, of our closest friends. Recently, the time came for several to move away. Matt began to explore the various Catholic parishes in the area. He was eventually invited to a men’s prayer and discernment group, put together by some of the brothers and priests at Old Mission Santa Barbara. When I found out about this group, I was immediately interested. In February I believe, I went to this group for the first time. I had already met Nikki, Anthony and Sean a few times at various groups and events. Through the men’s group I got to know Anthony and Sean much better, as well as Michael, whom I met for the first time.

On that first winter night, when the brothers and priests said goodbye, Anthony invited us to move the party to Harry’s, his favorite restaurant/bar. There he discussed with us the idea of forming a sodality. Knowing that young adults are often scattered between parishes, and believing that young adults need a group to plan social activities and help each other become educated about our Catholic faith and traditions, he was glad to have the opportunity to discuss this with those of us who felt similarly. Anthony also developed the idea of the name for our group. Though we all understand that not everyone will pick up the meaning of the name right away, it is a name which distinguishes our local area, as you’ll see in the About page on this website, and having a rather surprising name is quite reasonable for the spirit of our group. I am told that Sean, who had become Anthony’s roommate, thought the idea was little more than a joke. Others were also somewhat skeptical. However, I always had a strong sense that the group could become something great. I would always ask Anthony whenever I would see him, if there was any progress on the sodality. He would always be claiming to be working on a mission statement with Michael and Sean. I would express interest in being a Goletan representative. Our first few discussions about it were among the men. Eventually Nikki agreed to be a part of it, as long as we would agree to work on recruiting other women to the group.  We have had some success in this area, but the majority at most of our gatherings are still men; it does seem that the women of our group are much busier.

By the time we were ready to get more serious about getting this group formed in a more formal way, it was June and I had to leave for a couple months, to attend various academic and family functions in New York and northern California. The other co-founders did have several social events that summer. It was August when I returned, and finally all six of us would gather together several times, mostly at Harry’s, to begin the truly detailed work. Of course, we wanted to actually socialize and discuss other topics during each meeting; therefore, a limited amount of decision making was done at each meeting. One Sunday in August, instead of meeting at Harry’s, we went to a cafĂ© on the beach. Eating and drinking outside in the sand, we discussed a first draft of the charter which Anthony had sent. It was quite a humorous document, but some of its contents will remain a secret. I agreed to fill in parts of the charter which were not done, particularly to expand the sections on our three principles of tradition, family and spontaneity, and to make the language a bit less formal. I have now made these edits, and Matt has made further edits, but alas, our charter is still not finalized.

After lunch, Michael invited us, quite spontaneously, to go sailing with his father. As we went out into the ocean, we felt a profound gratefulness for God’s creation, and for such a great day in our developing friendships. This will always be a highlight in my time at UC Santa Barbara, and in the history of the Sodality. As the school year began, we were able to meet at least every couple weeks, usually all six of us co-founders being able to make it, and we were able to include some other friends as well. In October several of us attended a men’s group dinner for the Transitus of St. Francis at the Mission, followed by a service at the Poor Claire’s Monastery, and then a spontaneous birthday party for Michael. There was also a Halloween party at Michael’s house, which I unfortunately missed due to an academic conference.

 Soon Sean developed the idea of having monthly sodality masses. We began telling priests about our group and got wide support. You can read more about our monthly masses in other posts. We began developing our roles in the group. There has been debate as to whether Anthony or Michael is President. Nikki is treasurer, although we have no money. Sean and Matt have distinguished themselves with their recent activity; Sean has set up all the logistics for our masses, kept in touch with various priests, provided music for the masses (mostly Gregorian chant and traditional hymns), and written for the blog. Matt has set up this website and our mailing list. Together, we have all contributed to make the success of this group possible, and to bring forth joy and knowledge of the faith in each other’s lives.

 Note: Other writers for this blog welcome to edit the post.

1 comment: