He Will Walk With You
Brother Rodney Bowers, SVD, graduated in 1983 from Divine Word College where he later served in several academic and as rector. He is now Novice Director at the Divine Word Missionaries’ Motherhouse in Techny, IL. Huy Tran is a 2009 graduate of Divine Word College and is one of the novices currently under Bro. Rodney’s guidance.
“Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all the things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them…”
Young men who enter the SVD Novitiate at Techny do not walk alone during their journey of discernment. Not unlike the travelers on the way to Emmaus, Brother Rodney Bowers, SVD, walks with each one as they seek to understand God’s plan for them.
Following a long and productive career at Divine Word College, which began in 1979 with his enrollment as a student, Bro. Rodney became Novice Director at Techny in 2008. As a young man, he experienced his own journey as a novice. As a brother, he gained a great deal of additional insight at DWC during his years teaching theology, working in formation and serving as Associate Dean and as Rector. Combined, his knowledge lends itself well to help each novice discern their life’s path.
“Each journey is unique unto itself, so part of it is that you have to take the person where they are at and walk with them, to affirm those areas that are positive, while on the other hand, try to challenge those areas where the person might need some growth,” Brother Rodney said. “Discernment is about making decisions and choices, big choices, little choices. It’s all about tuning into what God desires for you.”
Reflecting on the ebb and flow of his own life, parallels can be drawn. He pointed out that even a decade ago, if you had suggested that he would be Novice Director at Techny today, he would have dismissed it as not part of his plan.
“Obviously God and the SVD felt that I had the gifts and talents necessary to do this important ministry,” he said. “I take that idea and apply it to each of the guys too. Part of the discernment process is to let them get to know themselves—their gifts and their limitations—but in all that to show that God has a special plan for them, as well.”
Bro. Rodney walks with Huy Tran who is at the half-way mark of his novitiate journey. Following his graduation in the spring of 2009 from Divine Word College, Huy entered the Novitiate at Techny that fall. At DWC, he knew Bro. Rodney as a teacher and formator. Huy said that a primary characteristic that Bro. Rodney brings to his job as Novice Director is a straight-forward approach to his work. The key for a novice is to take the same tact.
“That is one of the characteristics that I really love, because I like to be straight forward and to talk straight forward as a man,” Huy said. “That’s what I love about him; he is very straight forward, very caring, he listens and is very understanding.”
The success of the process is made evident at the end of the novitiate year, when a young man stands before the greater SVD community to profess First Vows and publicly accept a life of poverty, chastity and obedience according to the Constitutions of the Society of the Divine Word. At that point, they understand what is expected and they in turn have a grasp of their own mission and ministry.
“When they stand up there, they do it of their own freewill and they have discerned this thoughtfully,” Bro. Rodney said. “Not that they have it all worked out for themselves, but they are as close as possible, through prayer and spiritual direction, so they feel that this is what God wants them to do with their lives.”