Thursday, May 26, 2011

My First Yoga Teacher

An amazing thing happened today.
A bit of a funky one and then something compelled me to google my high school mentor, my first yoga teacher, the one who first taught me the yoga sutras, taught me meditation, perhaps one who shaped my direction more than any other.
A few years ago I had tried this (googling him) but he eluded me.
His name is Vito Perrone, rather now Father Vito Perrone, the founder of the new order Contemplatives of St Joseph. He lives in San Francisco.
I had a beautiful phone conversation with him (after I found his phone number).
So good to reconnect.
It is beautiful to see the depth of spirituality and authenticity that transcends different religions and traditions. Most Catholics I think don't realize the full depth of the mystical within their own tradition.
He is one of the most amazing men I have ever known.
Here is a blurb from one of the websites I found so you have some background:
New order of monks modeled on St. Joseph founded in archdiocese
January 12th, 2011
By Valerie Schmalz

In the San Francisco Bay Area, orange-robed Buddhist monks are a common sight.

Father Vito J. Perrone wants to make the black diocesan priest garb of the newly founded Contemplatives of St. Joseph at least as ubiquitous. His goal is to bring a deep awareness of Catholic contemplative spirituality to the Archdiocese of San Francisco, draw back Catholics who have left and make new converts.

People are leaving the church and joining other religions or embracing other philosophies because they do not know what the Catholic Church is and what it offers for a relationship with God, he said.

“The goal of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph is to help those who enter as priests and brothers, and those whom they serve in their active ministry to wake up to the contemplative spiritual treasures of the Catholic Church,” said Father Perrone.

Unusually, the Contemplatives of St. Joseph will live a mission that unifies the active and cloistered life. “We’re a monk Monday through Friday and a diocesan priest Saturday and Sunday,” said Father Perrone, with the order’s habit the garb of a diocesan priest.

His new order will “breathe with both lungs of the church,” East and West, taking its guidance from Pope John Paul II’s pastoral letter “Light from the East,” Father Perrone said. Priests will embrace the Latin and Eastern rites of the church and study the early Desert Fathers and Orthodox spirituality.

“By living fully within the Catholic contemplative tradition at this time in church history, as expressed by both the Eastern and Western Church, the priests and brothers’ way of life will slowly but surely help the Archdiocese of San Francisco to grow in contemplative spirituality,” the 53-year-old founder said.

Father Perrone will welcome his first two postulants in the next few weeks to the monastery located on the grounds of Mater Dolorosa Parish in South San Francisco. The monastery was converted from a former convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, said Father Perrone, adding, “St. Joseph wants to be here.”

The priests will focus particularly on developing as spiritual directors and confessors, with Father Perrone envisioning the Contemplatives of St. Joseph priests eventually spending entire weekends hearing confessions and giving retreats. They are modeled on St. Joseph, who was silent and contemplative, yet active – the foster father of Jesus and spouse of Mary, protecting his little family and “standing against evil,” Father Perrone said.

“This is the year for vocations,” said Father Perrone, who has room for 10 aspiring priests in his community.

Archbishop George Niederauer granted permission for the order in the Archdiocese on May 30, 2008, the founding date of the order, Father Perrone said. It was a long process and the order remains in an exploratory stage. If vocations and support come, then the order is the will of God, Father Perrone and Auxiliary Bishop William Justice said.

Bishop Justice called Father Perrone an “essentially holy” man.

For decades, Father Perrone yearned for life as a cloistered monk. A spiritual searcher, he moved from North Dakota to the Bay Area in 1982 for a master’s degree from the Franciscan School of Theology and was ordained a priest in the archdiocese in 2001. He served at Immaculate Heart of Mary and St. Cecilia parishes.

Although he spent most vacations on retreat at monasteries around the U.S., Father Perrone said he never heard a “complete yes” from God the way he had heard God call him to the priesthood of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

Then, six years ago, a blizzard left Father Perrone alone in the famous St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal, an unusual occurrence because the Catholic basilica is a popular tourist destination and always crowded with visitors, Father Perrone said. “The progress of a whole lifetime came to a head,” Father Perrone said. “For an hour and a half I was the only one there…just like that, this insight came to me, ‘start something new.’”

Father Perrone spent a year praying about what the St. Joseph’s Oratory experience meant. He eventually came to the idea of the Contemplatives of St. Joseph and presented it to Archbishop Niederauer. For another year the two prayed about the concept. Then, the archbishop told Father Perrone to test the concept by putting together the logistics, consulting with others and continuing to discern. The process of discernment took another two years, he said. “I had to search my own soul to see if I had what it takes to be the person to get this rolling,” Father Perrone said.

As the only order of contemplative men in the archdiocese, the Contemplatives of St. Joseph will pray for all the bishops, priests and people and hope by their prayer and example to attract vocations to the priesthood of the archdiocese as well as to the order, Father Perrone said.

With a half-million Catholics in the archdiocese, there are many who seek spiritual direction that will now be able to turn to the new order, Father Perrone said. “A holistic presentation of contemplation will resonate with the modern seeker who is ambivalent and hesitant about entering more fully into the life of the church,” he said. “We pray there will be many more converts to the Catholic faith.”

His website, in case you are interested is :

Happy day.