Ever since the start of Saint Viator High School, in 1961, Viatorians have lived in its third floor residence. Separated from the rest of the school, the living space features individual bedrooms, as well as a private chapel, dining room, a large common area — complete with a fireplace, piano, TV and multiple clusters of furniture — and a rooftop deck.
For most of those years, Viatorians serving on the faculty and in its administration lived above the school, but more recently a new community of Viatorians has come together. Joining Fr. Corey Brost, Br. Michael Gosch, Fr. Daniel Hall, Fr. Daniel Lydon and Br. Rob Robertson are Br. John Avellaneda of Colombia, Fr. Jean-Didier Sohotode of the Republic of Benin in West Africa, and Fr. Dudley Pierre and Br. Marc-Innocent Prophète, both of Haiti.
“It is truly an international community,” says Br. Michael Gosch, “that enjoys lively conversation during meals, prayer and attending various events
Take last Saturday, for example. A group of them — Br. Gosch, Br. Prophete, Br. Robertson and Fr. Sohotode — attended a prayer vigil for people who were recently killed in Chicago. They were joined by Viatorian Associate Chris Gucwa and Fr. Thomas Long. The next night, the third floor community celebrated the 50th birthday of Fr. Pierre, by going out to dinner to at a nearby restaurant.
“I love the community here,” says Fr. Sohotode, whose native language is French. “I have enjoyed getting to know my confreres in this country as well as being reunited with those from Haiti, whom I had met before.”
All of the new international residents came here looking to study English. Consequently, they attend English as a Second Language (ESL) courses at nearby colleges. But mostly they improve their conversational English through their daily interactions and by living in community with their American confreres.
Fr. Sohotode admits he knew very little English when he arrived from the Foundation of Ivory Coast, but he was determined to master the language.
“I’m getting better,” he says, “but I still need to practice.”
Br. John Avellaneda is improving as well, after taking ESL classes. He serves in the Pastoral program at Colegio San Viator in Tunja, which is striving to become the Viatorians’ second bilingual school in Colombia.
Fr. Pierre is the former Superior of the Foundation of Haiti and in that role he accepted the first vows of Br. Prophète, in 2019. Fast forward nearly four years later and the two Viatorians are together again, with a new community of Viatorians who are supporting them during their time here to learn English.
The brotherhood between these confreres advances one of the key priorities of the worldwide Viatorian Community: to strengthen the international solidarity between Viatorians and promote the vitality of the congregation.