We Would Love
to Keep in Touch!

sister ruth marie penksa e1483626503648 417x280 02bSr. Ruth Marie Prenska, G.N.S.H. (1934-2016), a truly devoted Campus MinisterThe campus minister works in an environment that is rich with possibility and serendipity. To me, this ministry is a call to be present, be aware, believe that God is at work through me and in spite of me.

This God tale is one that recounts the story of David Eubank. Like his biblical counterpart, David is small of stature, the good kid, a youth unnoticed, pursuing his interest in environmental science on a campus located in the inner city.

A chance meeting

I came to know David when some of his science club friends suggested that I be one of the advisors on their whale watch excursion to Cape Cod in 1990. I was personally excited about the idea of whale watching, so I packed my bag and joined this group of budding scientists. We returned enriched by our experience at sea and our new-found friendships. This was played out by their frequent visit to the Campus Ministry Center, Room 275 of SUNY Erie Community College-City Campus in Buffalo, New York.

A usual question but a different response

And, when David dropped by one day, I threw out my traditional question aimed at Catholics: ‘'Have you made your Confirmation?” (Somehow I forgot to ask if he was Catholic.) An accidental question! He said he didn’t know. But on another visit, David said he was never baptized. My role as evangelizer prompted me to ask him to think about attending our R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) Confirmation Sessions here on campus.

David faithfully attended each session. When we spoke about God’s love for his people. David added his concern for the animal world and the environment. All his references to God’s love seemed centered there. Often, Matthew, my associate in the R.C.I.A. sessions and I wondered how we could direct his interest to God's people. In the end, we admitted that our role was to plant the seeds. God's role was to water and nurture David.

Confirmation moved and rocked his heart

Eubanks 01bBrother David Eubank, M.S., at his first profession on Sept. 19, 2007 in St. Louis, MissouriThus David came to the waters of baptism, and he accepted the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Now I became aware of the power that flowed from God into David’s spirit. I imagine the life of grace in us is like the whitecaps that form as a wave that crests. Those whitecaps began to be obvious in David’s new life.

He became a very generous volunteer, doing tedious jobs for me in the ministry. He promoted environmental issues as well as Social Justice concerns; he participated in retreats and the March for Life in Washington, D.C. All my colleagues merited David my nomination for the St. Joseph’s Award, presented to him by Bishop Edward D. Head at a Buffalo Diocesan Service.

One day, David questioned me about the Grey Nun Associates when he saw one of our brochures. I explained briefly, and David responded swiftly by becoming a member. He studied the life and mission of St. Marguerite d’Youville, founder of the Grey Nuns, and his wave crested. God’s whitecap was revealed as David proclaimed: “I’ve never before had a spiritual focus in my life.”

He was spiritually energized to be and do what St. Marguerite had by her example been to many – the loving example of Jesus to anyone in need. Soon, David could be heard saying: "Wouldn't it be great if there were brothers who carried on St. Marguerite’s spirit – Grey Brothers of the Sacred Heart!” That name, and maybe the idea, was catchy to me. But for David, his wave was swelling to another crest.

Drawn to another calling

Then God provided another grace. Not only did that interest grow for him, but David searched for, contacted, and was interviewed concerning religious life. At this writing, David is in the Bronx working and living alongside the Christian Brothers, serving some of God's needy kids. He'll be back soon. He will contemplate his experience. Perhaps David will become a brother, maybe he won't. But God is at work in his life, and David is listening and growing.

3629 Second ReadingDavid’s mother proclaimed the second reading at his first Profession, assisted by Bro. Bob Russell, M.S.As campus minister, I feel graced to have been present to see God's Providence – his work – unfold. There are many tales to tell when I look back at the past 12 years on campus – most not as dramatic as this one. But I do believe that God is busy in our bit of space at SUNY Erie Community College-City Campus, an inner city college campus in Buffalo, New York, whether I noticed those whitecaps or not. It is with this assurance that I mark the beginning of my 13th year as campus minister.

Continued twelve years later, 2008 . . .

An accidental question! No accident that David is now Brother David Eubank, M.S., a member of the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. And the whitecaps? They continue as he meets the many calls and challenges of his La Salette Community.

At David’s first profession, I reminded him of that journey from whales to water to whitecaps with a prayer:

"Whales” he said would open the way,
And so we shared whales and water that day.
“Water” once more but now called Baptism,

You began to see life through a brand new prism.
Caught by the Spirit, life would ne'er be the same:
"Whitecaps” a God-journey with faith in his name.
Today you offer yourself with a pledge of love –
A vow of commitment to God above.

I'm honored to have walked with you into today,
And for our lasting friendship, to You, my God, I pray.

St. Paul expressed our ministry so well:

3646 Perpetual Vows 2010 July 22 05bDavid’s Perpetual Profession was celebrated on July 22, 2010, in the Shrine Church, Attleboro, Massachusetts, presided by Fr. Joseph Bachand, M.S., Provincial Superior“I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)

The words of St. Paul reflect the experience, the humility that an R.C.I.A. team is confronted with. His words might be paraphrased. What, after all is Matthew? And what is Ruth? Only servants, through whom David came to believe – as the Lord has assigned each to his task.

“We planted the seed, watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

But, Paul was himself a convert. He realized the power of God’s grace. He put aside his old Life to be an apostle of Jesus, to carry His message. The overwhelming change in his life began with a question- not accidental, but God's: "why are you persecuting me?” He had to answer the question. After his brief instruction, his R.C.I.A., he was ready to take on the "whitecaps” that would change him as much as the message he would carry, the seed he would plant.

Thus, from the question comes the heroic response that meets the challenges required of the message-bearer, the seed-bearer. He may now be called Apostle or Brother.

(Reprinted with permission from The Scoop on Ruth: All in the Family, Sense and Nun-sense, Along the Way, The “P” Source, by Sr. Ruth Marie Prenska, G.N.S.H., Authorhouse Publishing, Bloomington, Indiana, 2009, pgs. 123-125)