The following reflection is from Liam Farrer (pictured above with Clyde, a therapy dog), who is a participant the Franciscan At-One-Ment Mission Project, a summer discernment internship which includes living with the Friars and ministering at St. Christopher’s Inn.
In my regular life, I’m a student at Regis College, the Jesuit theological college at the University of Toronto. For those unfamiliar with the Jesuits, a major part of their spirituality is “finding God in all things.” In the same way, my experience with Franciscan spirituality has prepared me to see the goodness of God, at least theoretically, in all aspects of creation.
While I came to St. Christopher’s Inn familiar with these processes, there is one thing here that’s helped me to grow closer to God that I wasn’t expecting – even after 4 years at a Jesuit college and a Masters thesis on early Franciscan spirituality…
Clyde is the therapy dog at St. Christopher’s Inn. The men love him. They often surround him and stand by as one by one he sniffs them, licks them, and helps them forget for a moment where they are. Clyde is also very skittish and, for a dog lover like myself, it’s easy to see that he’s absolutely terrified, but he does his role as a therapy dog anyway. There’ve been times since I’ve come to the Inn when I’ve been absolutely terrified to interact with the men. My OCD anxieties, my fear that I’ll say the wrong thing, my initial uncomfortableness with my knowledge of addiction have held me back, but seeing Clyde, seeing how the men respond to unconditional love, has inspired me sometimes to try to extend the agapic love that Christ has for them, which I’m called to share with them – even when I’m uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s only fitting that during a Franciscan internship, “Brother Dog” has helped me to become a better Christian.