There is nothing (short of a semester in Austria) that causes such division amongst the students at Franciscan as spring break. To paraphrase one of the greatest authors of the 1800s: it was the best of breaks, it was the worst of breaks.
It was the age of mission; it was the age of laziness. It was the epoch of fasting; it was the epoch of home-cooked gluttony.
It was the season of Lent; it was the season of premature candy consumption. It was the spring of hope; it was the winter of despair.
We had family before us; we had Ecuadorian children before us. We were going straight down to the equator; we were headed north.
In short, spring break yet again created great alienation among the humble peoples of Franciscan University.
It was the year of our Lord 2023. Right before spring break, Avila and Paul had become friends.
It’s hard to explain exactly how their friendship developed, but we can truly say that God works in mysterious ways… and so do young hearts.
You have undoubtedly heard the phrase, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” and nothing could be truer for Avila’s heart. She went to visit her grandparents in rural Iowa for the week of spring break, where she shared a farmhouse loft with seven of her 12 homeschooled brothers and sisters.
Avila was thrilled to give her grandparents a hug and go back to the familiar smells and bells of her old Latin Rite parish, St. Dionysius the Areopagite Roman Catholic Church.
However, as everyone knows, St. Dionysius was converted by St. Paul himself. Thinking on her beloved’s patron saint made Avila’s heart pine all the more.
“Oh, Paul!” she thought as she shoveled three feet of snow off her grandparent’s driveway one morning. “Where are you now?”
Little did the hopeless romantic know that the only similarity between herself and Paul at that moment was the persistent, hoarse crowing of roosters in their ears. At that very moment, Paul was getting a toasty tan in Belize and singing praise to the Lord, hands lifted high, as he walked down the pebbly road in Benque, Belize to morning Mass.
Later that day, he taught a lesson on the sacrament of matrimony to high schoolers. Not once did the thought of Avila enter his mind.
He spent the evening playing football with Belizean kids before leading them in night prayer.
Avila, meanwhile, curled as close to her grandparents’ living room fire as she could while she prayed her own night prayer. The icy winds of Iowa creaking through the old farmhouse were an extreme juxtaposition to the stagnant night heat oozing through open windows in Benque.
Spring break came to an end and Avila was eager to be reunited with Paul. However, it has been two weeks and they still have not spoken!
“Why?” you may ask. Quite simply, Paul’s phone was eaten by a stray dog in Belize.
But perhaps you’re wondering how they haven’t run into each other. Indeed, reader, they have; but, Avila became so deathly pale and Paul so ruddy and bronzed that neither of them have recognized each other to this day!
This is the tragedy of spring break at Franciscan. Pray for them, reader, that they might find one other.
Still, not every couple shares the spring break misfortunes of Avila and Paul. A dude with a large jaw and a gal with a tan face who were on Arizona mission together now sit in the couple’s booth in the Caf. A (different) dude with a large jaw and a gal with a pale face who were on North Dakota mission can be seen studying together in a private room in the library.
In both situations, it is clearer than crystal to everyone involved that things are, in fact, settled forever. A couple that survives spring break is truly destined for good and bad, sickness and health, until death parts them.