Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
"Irregardless," we're ready to walk these last six miles. Over the last few nights we've stayed with Cookie Harris, Josh's parents, and now with the Mackins.
I'd write more, but I need to grab some breakfast for the last leg... and you, doubtless, need to get to the store to buy me lavish presents. It has been a long and fruitful summer... and as tired as we are, it is sad that it is coming to an end.
We have six miles left in our journey as I sit writing this. I’ve figured out that I can sit out almost every shift and the only result is that everyone thinks less of me…and that’s it, so I win. The Cloutiers joined us today for a few shifts and Jo-jo is adorable, even after she found these discarded sunglasses which Andi let her keep despite their doubtless contamination with the HIV. I can feel the arches of my feet falling with each step I take and I’ve mended the sole of my right shoe as best I could using the meager materials afforded me. I’ve also crafted snowshoes from bent saplings and rawhide strips, though I don’t anticipate a need for them at this stage. We were forced to eat Scott this morning…sorry, typo, eat with Scott this morning. It’s been an amazing few days and the weekend was a blast.
I don’t enjoy bragging, but it is important that the world know of my burgeoning Liturgy of the Hours skills, which some have called “mad”, lest I take it by storm. As we gather to pray, whether it be in the morning, evening or night, I can always tell that the eyes of the group turn to me to silently (yet earnestly) laud my vocal talents. They pretend not to be looking, but I can feel their eyes and it weighs heavy on my soul. Lord give me humility, just not yet.
I will see you all in Washington tomorrow and Scott would like those of you who have purchased palm branches to lay down before him that we will be coming down to the shrine, much like a thief in the late morning.
For now, Mark
Friday, August 01, 2008
We’re in Maryland now. On Wednesday night we stayed with the Newmans (aka Jessica’s parents) and we ate a huge Thanksgiving Dinner (complete with gravy, pumpkin pie, and decorations). The Cloutiers drove down to join us, as did Dave Sao and Wes and Josh and Jeff and Monica (who is now walking with us!). We liked the “Newman Center” so much that we stayed there again last night.
Today we’re slowly trekking toward Baltimore. If I can get the other MoEs to respect my “Blog Master Authority” then we might soon see some bios from Monica and the Leopolds (Joe, Mark, and Faith). Incidentally, “Monica and the Leopolds” sounds like an excellent name for a band. Maybe we can convince/force them to sing some songs in honor of the birthday madness.
Well, dear readers, you’ll have to excuse me now. It’s time for me to finish wrapping my feet (which, after weeks of relative peace, have decided to start blistering again). Catch ya on the flip side.
Scott “The Sasquatch”
I first learned of the MoE walk two weeks ago when my brother Joe asked me if I’d like to join him, because he suspected the company he would be forced to keep would be somewhat sedate for his tastes, a suspicion I shared…until I got here. I have participated in the past in a number of Catholic events and groups and have found them largely to be made up of people who I don’t find myself entirely comfortable around. Apparently unmasked cynicism and caustic sarcasm are not only lost on the members of these groups, but can be quite offensive to them as well. In the MoE’s however, I find myself at M-O-ease (thanks Faith). There is a camaraderie and fellowship like nothing I have known outside that time I watched The Fellowship of the Rings. Jessica is great, always patient and a good leader and she has a wondrous flowing beard…just like Gandalf. Scott is funny…he makes us laugh and he loudly praises our hackish puns and he carries a giant axe (that’s right I’m making a LOTR metaphor, bear with me), just like Gimli. Andi is kind and adventurous…and short, which makes her Pippin and her best friend and confidant is the effervescent and loyal Meredith who we’ve all taken to calling Merry(just me really, but I like to think it’ll catch on). Becca, ever watchful and agile and good at walking on snow is naturally Legolas while Zack, our stalwart defender and silent guardian is Strider…also cause he has ridiculously long legs. Monica just joined us yesterday so she’ll start off as Sam…sorry Monica gotta pay you dues sister.
Well my shift is starting now, so I’ll be sure to blog a little bit more when I get the time.
Mark and Faith!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, July 31, 2008
My name is Rebecca (AKA- Rachel). I met up with the missionaries on 18th in Manhattan, NY. So just about 2wks and I LOVE it!!!!! If you believe in our Catholic moral values, enjoy spending time with awesome people, want to make an effect in our dying culture through evangelizing, and don’t mind praying a lot (which is actually totally AWESOME), then you should pray to see if God is calling you to become a Missionary of the Eucharist.
I grew up in New Hampshire right along their walking route and my family was a Host Family for them every year. And every year my family would join up with them through out the week they were near by. Ever since then, I wanted to be a part of the Missionaries. So I got a chance last yr to do a week n decided after that- if I ever got the chance again I would; hopefully for a whole summer. The whole summer didn't work out this year; but the time I have had has been an amazing experience.
I've grown very close to those around me 24/7 :) (I mean--- when you spend that much time with a person/persons you get to know them pretty well) It's great!
Walking along the streets in cities; has to be is my favorite part. We get a chance to talk to SO many people. Hand out hundreds of rosaries n pray with people. I wasn't sure how we'd be "welcomed" in the cities. As it turns out, it was much different from what i expected. The those whom I expected to be distant from our mission; I found to be some of the most open. At least they'd listened to what we had to say, n seemed to ponder it. At times, after having a discussion with some others; we would leave to hearing them discuss it among themselves. On many occasions I've had people open their life to me. It could be this person whom i just met not 2 min. ago. And here they are; telling me their story. Sharing their pain n suffering, their joy n happiness. All with what seems to be- a total stranger. But really we are not strangers at all; none of us are. We know one another through Christ; and in that- we connect. It really shows that approaching someone with love n compassion is the way to reach out to those in need. For God is LOVE! Christ is love Himself.
So if i may; I encourage you to let your heart be filled with the life of Christ. So when others look at you they may see Love himself in your eyes.
God Bless, Rebecca
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Fortunately, we have four new walkers joining us over the next 12 hours and that will be quite delightful. Please pray for our group, that we will be able to work well together to continue to spread the Gospel with great charity and love for one another.
(Also, we're getting Thanksgiving dinner tonight ... that should make the bonding experience all the better!)
But let's catch up: After NYC we traveled to the Jersey City-Elizabeth-Newark metropolitan conglomerate. Zack joined up with us and invited us over to the Emmaus House (the discernment house where he's been living) and we had lunch and Jessica tormented the house dog with her interpretive dancing. It was there that we met a seminarian from the DC area who was painting a mural of the Holy Trinity in the Emmaus House Chapel. He was a swell guy.
As we walked through the section of city known as "The Six Most Dangerous Blocks in America," we had pedestrians and motorists stop to ask us if we knew where we were. The area was full of drug traffickers and prostitutes, but we were warmly received by many of these "dangerous people."
On Wednesday we got to see MoE alumna Sr. Lauren (who walked last year). She is in a Dominican cloister in Summit and she was able to visit with us for a couple of hours. She introduced us to the only male aspirant that the order has... Fred the Dog. He was a very energetic pup and I'm glad that the Novitiate's prayers for a dog were answered.
We handed out many rosaries (especially in Trenton). We brought with us about 3,000 rosaries this summer and we've already run out!
On Friday we stayed with Jessica's relatives outside of Philly. We played volleyball, ate burgers, and chatted with the guys who founded The King's Men. It was very restful.
Over the weekend we joined up with the guys from the Immaculate Conception discernment house in Philadelphia and the members of Generation Life. Together we prayed in front of a local abortion mill and then spent a few hours doing street evangelism in the Love Park in Center City Philadelphia. We met a lot of interesting people. One lady originally waved us aside and yelled for us to move out of her way, but after a heartfelt chat with a Missionary (and after the Missionary literally gave her the sandals off her feet) this woman hugged her for so long that we wondered if we'd melt together into Siamese twins.
We stayed at the Immaculate Conception house over the weekend and were reunited with Fr Boniface and Dave Sao. It was also nice, for me, to see the guys of IC again and to check on the garden I helped plant on the day before I headed down to DC for training (the tomatoes are going to be huge!). I feel like we ate about 78 delicious meals that weekend, with our friend Taryn dishing up most of them (she's an excellent cook and I think she should be the official MoE chef).
On Sunday we went to evening mass at St John the Evangelist and then had a Caribbean Barbeque with the "locals." The parish seems to be about 75% young adults... it was very inspiring to be among them. It was also inspiring to watch MoEs who'd been walking since Maine dominate the limbo competition.
On Monday we started walking again and stayed the night with a family who had a six-day old baby girl. She. was. precious. We also exhausted out host's four young sons (I learned to never challenge any of these ladies to a wrestling contest!). On Tuesday we walked to Bear (and were joined by Joe and Mark Leopold). And now, dear friends, I am off to eat some of that bacon I've told you so much about.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
It has been my goal to get out of this walk without actually bogging at all. This is not because I want to avoid informing our supporters about our activities, but rather to challenge the patience of Blogmaster Wilkins (a.k.a. Scott). However, I felt that sharing my thoughts about our adventures in Manhattan was more important than winning this battle.
The Missionaries walked through Manhattan on Friday. We traveled in a group of about 12 people, including past walkers, friends, and Fr. Lawrence, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal. Over the course of 6 or more hours we handed out over 300 rosaries and talked to many wonderful New Yorkers.
We began the day with Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was there that we had the pleasure of meeting Cardinal Egan. We were not expecting this. In fact, I thought we were in some sort of trouble when the security guard came to us during the final hymn to tell us that the Cardinal wanted to speak with us. We were all very excited to meet him, and he seemed to appreciate the things we were doing as well.
After this we set out for our trek through the city. We received a variety of responses, most of which were good. There are hundreds of experiences, interactions, and thoughts that I would like to explain in this post, however, the short amount of time and space that I have allows for only a couple.
One of the greatest blessings that came out of our efforts in Manhattan was our experience with a woman in the park. We had been walking for 3 hours and had not yet reached the half way point. Because a couple of us had stopped to talk to someone on the street, the rest of the group stopped to pray by a statue of Our Lady. As we were praying we noticed a woman praying with us at a nearby bench. After the rosary, Maggie stopped to talk with her and to give her a pamphlet about ourselves. The woman ended up telling Maggie that she had not been to church in a while and related a few troubling events that she had recently gone through. Maggie was then able to inform the woman that we had a priest with us if she needed to have her confession heard. The woman accepted the offer and ended up speaking to Father for almost an hour. She told us afterward that she intended to come back to the Church and regularly attending Mass. Praise the Lord.
My ideas about evangelization changed very drastically as we walked through Manhattan. I went into it thinking I was going to be telling people all about what I believe, teaching them the rosary, and bringing them in some way closer to the faith. Even though this did occur, the most important thing I ended up bringing to people was love. I learned that within our culture, especially in cities such as New York, we have huge problem with loneliness. It seems that most people will not take the time to talk to someone who is obviously struggling and yearning for love. Although our citizens suffer from financial poverty, I think more people suffer from poverty in the sense of loneliness. I found that the majority of the conversations I had with people had nothing to do with the Catholic faith. Offering my time, my love, and my ear was the best thing that I could do for them. These people were so happy that someone would actually stop for a minute to hear about what was going on in their lives.
For example, as we were walking toward the end of the day, Maggie and I stopped to talk to a disabled man on the sidewalk. He had a speech impediment so it was important for us to take some time to figure out what he was trying to tell us. I could tell by his huge smile that it had been so long since someone had actually stopped to talk to him, rather than just passing by to drop a coin in his cup without a spoken word. He did not want anything that we could offer him, other than our time and conversation. I was so happy to speak to him. I wish more people would stop and take the time to get to know the people around them. There is so much loneliness all around us, but we go about our lives too quickly to realize it.
New York was a great experience. It was definitely uplifting after our exhausting week with only four people. We are now in New Jersey and struggling to get ourselves going again. Please continue praying for us as we enter the last phase of the journey.
Pax Vobiscum, Andi
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I am sure we'll have tons of exciting things to report after The NYC weekend, but for now I'll just chat about recent events. We divided our time these weekend between the Andrew's house and a Spanish church in Hartford. Mr. and Mrs. Andrew (the parents of fellow MoE Elizabeth Andrew) let us swim in their pool and eat a lot of their food. We celebrated my birthday in style (i.e., with brownie sundaes and toy dinosaurs) and we heard some very funny tales from Elizabeth (who was visiting her parents).
Our last two nights were spent with the Dominicans of New Haven. Right in the midst of Yale University, these Dominicans are surrounded by majestic ivy league buildings. Ron, their chef, entertained us with witty banter and delicious foods.
I should get wrap this up, though... I have to start walking again in about 20 minutes.
Greetings from Scott! It has been a while since we’ve had internet and a computer at the same time. Shortly after our last post, the laptop decided that instead of starting up (like a good robot should) it would keep a black screen and beep at us in a most sassy and impertinent manner. So for a few days we had no access to the map program (and the walking route) and we decided to just “wing it.” What a great week to break in our new walkers, Andreas and Christine!
We stayed for a night with Fr Ventura who treated us to an awesome dinner and monstrous ice cream cones that defied all reason: you’d order a “small” and they’d give you enough cold sweetness to feed a family of five! So despite ordering the small size, we still ended up feeding much of our dessert to the goats that lived behind the “icecreamery.” (Judging by the girth of the goats, half the population of New Hampshire had been using this method of ice cream disposal for decades).
We also stayed for a couple of nights at St Brigid’s parish where we were fed delicious chicken marsala and salad and snacks made from fresh mozzarella, basil, and sundried tomatoes. It was so good we ate it for breakfast and for another dinner as well!
Christine joined us on the second night at St Brigid’s and she walked with us into Boston. In the city we finally had enough people to walk in a group larger that two. It was great. We met many people and handed out many rosaries. It’s always interesting to meet people from diverse walks of life. We met an anesthesiologist on one corner and a homeless man on the next… each super excited about our mission.
Our first night in Boston we stayed with Jessica’s friend Alan O’Connor and his roommate Juan. They were excellent hosts (we ate gumbo!). The next day was Independence Day and we spent some time in Adoration before heading over to our next host family’s house. The McCullens opened up their home for us (even though they were out of town for their anniversary & we never got to actually meet them). Their beautiful home was the perfect place for us to rest up and to rendezvous with Annie and Zack, two Missionaries whom we’d not seen since Brooklyn.
That night we headed into the city to watch the fireworks and to engage in some street evangelism. It was a good time and we returned with just enough energy to eat a bowl of cereal and crawl into bed. The next day we prayed at an abortion mill and then spoke at two vigil masses. The next day we spoke at six masses in the greater Boston area. Maggie spoke in a Spanish mass (with a translator).
Unfortunately, Andreas had to leave us on Sunday so Jessica and I drove him back to Keane, NH. That morning Zack and Annie also headed home and Christine left on Tuesday (to prepare for World Youth Day).
The rest of this week seems like a blur. We walked in to Worcester (which is inexplicably pronounced “Woostuh”) and stayed with the totally awesome Thomas family. We feasted on tacos and Italian ice and I was (repeatedly) defeated in video games by children one third my age. It was fun.
The next morning Meredith headed home. She’ll return to us next weekend when we hit NYC, but in the meantime we’re holding strong with a skeleton crew of four walkers. Wednesday was interesting. The four of us took turns walking in the insane heat and ended our day in Brimfield, MA. Brimfield plays host to a gigantic flea market (with vendors from all over the world!). Jessica and I walked the final shift in a moderate drizzle which quickly became a torrent of lightning-infused stormy madness. Andi and Maggie came to our rescue… and our hostess, “Mrs. Z,” let us use the parish dryer that night. Mrs. Z was awesome. She and her family made us delicious pasta and ice cream sundaes and her children joined us for Evening Prayer.
Thursday found us walking through Springfield, MA. We handed out rosaries and had some great chats with people we met on the streets. We ended the day at the home of Peter and Kathy Andrew, parents of Elizabeth Andrew (a MoE). As per tradition, we jumped into their pool with all of our clothes on and, after trying (unsuccessfully) to convince Andi that she could breathe under water, we ate a delicious dinner and shared stories from this and previous summers. This morning we finished walking through Springfield and we eagerly anticipate entering Connecticut. Maybe some day we’ll be able to post pictures.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Over the course of our weekend in Boston we had nine people with us ... by the Wednesday after the Boston weekend, we were down to only 4 people. Walking with four people has been quite an interesting experience. Looking back on pictures from previous walks, it is so funny to see 9 people walking at one time! That's over double our walk right now.
Pray for us as we walk toward New York City ... and come join us!!!
Monday, July 07, 2008
I was reflecting on the life of John Paul the other day …. And he lived quite the life! One of my favorite periods of his life though has to be his last few days. There is no one who lived out the Gospel in their last days like John Paul. It was such an inspiration to see a man to so boldly proclaim the Gospel of Life. His frail body was unable to speak and barely able to move yet he radiated the light of Christ. All of his writings were truly lived out in those last few days and it was a privilege to have been a witness to such heroic virtue.
Then there is Mother Theresa. I was once told a story about Mother’s final days. One of the sisters attempted to bring an air conditioner into her room to make her more comfortable. She immediately told her to take it out of the room. After the sister recovered from her shock, Mother Theresa said “I have never denied Jesus anything and I am not going to start now.” It is such a bold statement to be able to say that ‘I have never denied Jesus anything.’
These two give the Missionaries great hope for the spreading of the Theology of the Body and the reign of the Culture of Life. John Paul gives us great courage in truly living out the Gospel and Mother Theresa continually calls us to give all for the Lord.
I hope that each of you will continue to pray for us through the intercession of John Paul the Great and Mother Theresa!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Yesterday night we were lucky enough to stay at the Divine Mercy Shrine in the John Paul II House and I slept in the St. Therese bedroom! We spent the evening walking around the shrine and spending time in prayer. Then Andi was so kind to read to us from a book of saints, where we sat and debated as to why some people in the book were not really saints. It was a very silly book, they had Martin Luther, Martin Luther King Jr., Anne Frank, Gandhi, and other people who are not even Catholic listed as saints...Weird. It was a fun/interesting conversation!
Today we walked 24 miles, 6 short of our goal of 30 because we were held up in a thunderstorm. But, before the bad weather hit we were able to have a pit stop at a wonderful park where I met some young boys. The first two boys stopped three of us and asked us what we were doing, so we told them. After talking for a while they asked us what the flag was that we were carrying. I asked if they knew who the Pope was, and they said they knew what the Pope was, and then I explained to them where the Pope lives and that he has his own flag. He was pretty excited and spent a couple minutes examining what the flag looked like. Then he asked us a question about Mary. He told us that his Father said to him that God does not like us praying to Mary. We kindly informed him (without saying "Your Father is wrong") that actually it is good to pray to Mary, and I showed him my Rosary! I ask that you pray for these two young boys, they just moved to Massachusetts from the Bronx. I pray that we today sparked an interest in their hearts to find out more about the Pope, Mary and God.
I also request that you pray for another young man that I met today at the park. He came to me while we were on the swings and we started talking. It turns out that he did not finish high school, he may be going back to jail next month and that he sells/does drugs. He is only 19 and has spent 1 1/2 in jail before. I made him promise me to never sell cocaine again and we shook on it...twice. He asked if we were Catholic and I said "YES!!" And he said that he too was catholic and told me what church he belonged to. I then had an opportunity to talk to him about confession. He said he has gone to rehab a couple times now and it doesn't work, I encouraged him to go to confession. That with God's help and forgiveness it is easier to make it through the difficult times. After talking with him for at least 20 minutes, we shook hands again in agreement that he would not sell cocaine again and I gave him a hug goodbye.
It saddens me so much to know that there are these young kids out there that have the desire to know who God is, but they do not have the correct formation or good role models. The fact that there are children out there who do not have parents who hug them daily and tell them how wonderful they are. These kids desire so much for love and positive attention. Although these kids have done bad things and do not act in ways that we would consider to be good, it does not mean that these are bad kids. They need prayers, and I beg you to pray for them and love them for who they are and who they can become.
Therefore, this is a shout out to Br. Peter Martyr and Josh for doing a lovely job over the past two summers. To all the past walkers who have put up with my insanity over the past three years ... thank you. Finally, my current walkers will not read this until after the walk, but I would like to thank you all for trusting me enough to put your lives in my hands.
I ask that each of you continue to pray for me because I NEED IT!!!
One of the highlights of the week has been pure Vermont maple syrup. When we were with the Schoppe family in St Johnsbury, we were fed delicious stacks of pancakes slathered in maple goodness. And while attending daily mass in Rutland, a parishioner insisted on taking us home for French toast (with abundance of syrup). So God bless the Schoppes and the Browns!
The hospitality has been heartwarming. St Monica’s parish in Montpelier was phenomenal. At St John the Evangelist, in Northfield, some of us soothed our tired feet (and hips) in the icy mountain river as Fr Rooney entertained us with his witty humor.
At Christ the King in Rutland, we were hosted by Fr Mayo and we feasted on the leftovers of an anniversary dinner held that day at the church. It was at this point that Andi, having lost a competition with Meredith, was forced to eat eleven black olives coated in spicy mustard.
We visited the gift shop of a Carthusian monastery outside of Manchester, but did not get a chance to drive up the mountain to see the monastery itself. In this shop we had a great conversation with one of the clerks whose son had just taken vows with a Carmelite community in Wyoming.
As we entered New York, we were swept off our feet by the generosity of the parish of St George in Pittstown. Fr Clark and his flock hosted a barbeque in our honor and we enjoyed delicious homemade Italian pastries.
We spent the weekend in Troy, New York. On Friday night my brother Ashton and his wife Maureen hosted a delicious night of pizza and laughter. On Saturday we arrived at the Fazioli’s house. They. Were. Awesome. I discovered that Kirk Fazioli attended the same bible study as my brother and, in an odd twist of fate, is semi-related to my high school math teacher. And, as if that were not odd enough, Ashton and Maureen had randomly met Br Peter Martyr while visiting friends in Cincinnati. Small world, eh?
My weekend hit some turbulence on Saturday. I awoke at midnight with extreme tooth pain. Turns out my filling had “failed” and some bacteria had snuck through the defenses to create an abscess. To make a long story short, a wonderful dentist-friend of our host mom was willing to examine me for free and write me a script for some codeine and antibiotics. I stayed behind on Monday to see if any other dental operations could be completed, spur-o-the-moment and then rejoined the group at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, MA.
Today we walked through parts of Massachusetts as we head back toward Southern Vermont. Our goal is to hit Manchester New Hampshire by week’s end.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
I have never been treated this kindly by so many people in my life, possibly because I have been living in New York City for a couple years now. I am so grateful for the generosity that has been given to our group of young adults during this journey. The people who we have been in contact with have been more than generous in making sure we are comfortable, clean, and well fed, but they have also been generous in sharing about their life stories.
It is so encouraging to know that we have so many people supporting us, who love us and who pray so often for us. It makes the painful walking all worth it, to know that we will end up in a place filled with love.
I fell in love with the gospel reading from our third day of the walk and I feel like it spoke right to us, and would like to share it with those of you following us through our Blog!
Jesus Said to the Twelve: "As you go, make this proclamation: 'The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give. Do not take gold or silver or copper for your belts; no sack for the journey, or a second tunic, or sandals, or walking stick. The laborer deserves his keep. Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it, and stay there until you leave. As you enter a house wish it peace. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you."
We are so grateful for all the families and parishes who have opened their doors to us, who have showered us with love and care. We wish you and all our benefactors peace and happiness.
So, I flew into Baltimore International Airport on a Tuesday to be picked up by hopefully someone. I did not know who was picking me up and I only had a number and a name to call. I landed and right away called Jessica, who I had only had contact with less than a handful of times. She informed me that she would be there to pick me up shortly. After I gathered my one small suitcase that was going to sustain me for 2 months, I walked outside to find my ride. One problem, I did not tell Jessica what I looked like, nor did I have any idea what she looked like or what she was driving. Thankfully we found each other right as I walked out the doors, and a familiar face got out of the car! I was so excited because with Jessica was one of my fellow associate friends from the Friars!
On our first day together we went to mass in the crypt at the National shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC. It was awesome! As it turns out this shrine is our finish line as well! Everything should start and end with our Lady! The next day began training, which consisted of a visit to a local convent of the Missionaries of Charity. If you don't know, the Missionaries of Charity were founded by Blessed Mother Theresa, who was and still is wonderful! There we all were assigned to different random jobs, and I have to argue that I had the best job!
I was lucky enough to work between two sisters and hand wash the clothing of the sick elderly tenants (from what I gathered many of them had HIV). While washing the clothing there was no conversation, only praying. We went through a few sets of the mysteries of the rosary, and they asked me to lead a couple times! It was such a humbling experience and so beautiful at the same time. Those women have so much love in their hearts that you can feel it radiating from their person without them having conversation.
Things continued to get even better, because the next day we went to a private training session with Christopher West on Theology of the Body. It was awesome; I learned so much and had many questions of Catholic teachings answered! It is amazing how well he can put things into perspective, such as contraception, abortion and premarital sex and how these are all negatively affecting today's society and marriage as we currently know it.
From there we went to St. Vincent's Abby which was amazing! I was able to go to adoration each morning at 5am! Loved it! We listened to many talks given by brilliant Benedictine Monks, and continued to grow as a group and as individuals. We were there for almost an entire week. During that week we also spent our evenings with wonderful families and had some really great times such as: building giant bonfires, riding horses, jumping on trampolines with small children, and swinging from ropes! It was so much fun interacting with such loving parents and children!
Then we went to Brooklyn NY, which is where I go to school! I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was a beautiful monastery there, and we were lucky enough to spend the weekend at this magnificent place. That was where we meet Sister Precious! She was so cute, her name was not really Sister Precious but she called herself that because it was a nickname given to her by some of the other sisters. She had been a nun for 60 plus years and did not look a day over the age of 65! So, she must have known at a very young age that God was calling her to religious life! No, but really she was filled with so much joy and love for Christ that she remained so youthful. We took a vote and decided that we should bring her along for the trip and she could ride "shot gun" or, as Andi would say "St. Andrew"! Oh, and when her cell phone rang (yes she has a cell phone and she is a cloistered nun!) she answered, "Here I am Lord" with a giggle. The funniest part was that the phone call was from another sister who was down the hall looking for her. They were very funny little old nuns, and hold a special place in our hearts!
So, that was pretty much our 2 weeks of training from my perspective! It was awesome, hard and very tiring, but we made it though and are a stronger group for it!
Friday, June 13, 2008
While living in New York City I have met many new wonderful friends, including the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. I began volunteering with the Friars and joined the Associate community. It is a community of lay people who take promises of poverty, chasity and obedience according to their stage of life. Other promises made include attending daily mass, praying the liturgy of the hours, monthly confession, and we all get together and stay in the dormitory the first weekend of each month. It was through the associates that I met some of the Missionaries of the Eucharist!
Then, when I was supposed to be writing my Neurology paper at the end of the spring semester, I instead spent most of my time searching the internet as to what I should do with my summer. Unexpectedly I came across the Missionaries website through a link on a friends facebook page and decided that it would be awesome if I joined the group for the summer. Everything happened so fast, one week I didn't know where I was going to be living for the summer, then within 2 weeks I had plane tickets to DC to meet with the Missionaries. (I have to thank my parents for making it possible for me to be with the Missionaries for the summer!!)
I don't really know why I am here, or why my heart felt so much joy at the thought of joining the Missionaries, but that is how I ended up here. During the next couple months I hope to learn the important lessons that God desires for me to learn this summer, and to help people along the way.
Over the weekend we dropped by a local abortion clinic to spend time in prayer with the other volunteers and then we met up with some fellow Missionaries of the Eucharist before spending the afternoon with our pal John DeChiaro in Brooklyn. It was a great weekend.
As I write this, we are on our fourth day of walking. If you saw us after our first day, you’d think that you’d wandered onto the set of a cheap zombie movie. We stumbled. We shuffled. We moaned. Nobody tried to eat any brains, but for a while there I thought they were hungry enough to make the attempt!
One day I, Scott, had heat exhaustion and spent an interesting evening chatting from the only part of the room which did not spin—the floor. And, lucky me, I have won the blister contest. Thankfully Maggie, our trained blister expert, has been patiently attending to our feet… forcing us to bathe them in weird brownish liquids and offering us tubes of ointments and magic elixirs.
But this week as we’ve developed blisters (and then blisters on top of blisters), we’ve been thankful to offer up our bodies and our pains to Christ our Savior. It is helpful to bear in mind that though it may be painful to carry the processional cross, our discomfort is nothing compared to Calvary.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
On Wednesday we volunteered with the Missionaries of Charity in Washington DC. We had an amazing time gardening, mopping, hand-washing laundry and learning how to live out Christian charity in the midst of great need. The lessons we learned about the dignity of the human person were excellent preparation for the next stage of our training.
On Thursday we ventured into the Amish countryside to meet Christopher West at the Black Rock Retreat Center in southern Lancaster County, PA. In an intensive day of lecture, Christopher gave a brief synopsis of John Paul II’s Theology of the Body and then offered insight on how these teachings might be lived out within our community and with those we meet on the walk.
One very profound element of our training has been the great gift of loving families. We’ve been warmly invited into several homes and we’ve witnessed, firsthand, that special bond of intimacy which is so precious and so central to what we are all about.
And here, at Saint Vincent’s, we are experiencing the familial warmth, hospitality, and love of these wonderful Benedictines. From letting us sleep on the floors of their offices to volunteering their time to provide training lectures, these beautiful men have been a great blessing to us.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Within my travels and continued participation in the universal Church, I love observing how sexual ethics, sacred art, and today’s media reflect and impact common thoughts within our society and culture. I long to strengthen people’s understanding of the beauty within their own femininity and masculinity, and LOVE doing this through representations in Renaissance, Modern and Post-Modern art. I beg for your prayers, that I might be strengthened through Mary in understanding my own femininity, and prayers for Drew University’s Catholic Campus Ministry – and all Catholic University programs in distress- that they may be reformed through God’s grace to provide a better haven on the world’s most grueling spiritual battlegrounds.
This will be my first experience walking with the MoE and boy am I thrilled. I am excited about being a very obvious and visible witness as a Catholic – how often do you find a group of young adults walking in blue t-shirts, carrying the Vatican flag and the Crucifix? I am excited to spread and share the love and hope that the Catholic Church has for all people. I am also looking forward towards the conversation of my heart and soul as start this journey. Do pray for our safety, both physically and spiritually.
I am most excited because of the recent visit from the Holy Father. The Missionaries are truly carrying the message that Christ is Our Hope! We are walking this summer to give hope to the Church in America. It is a great joy to be able to live this out and to bring hope to those we meet. God bless you all.
I am entering Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University for the Archdiocese of Newark this September. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body answered many of the questions I had about my faith & brought me to a much fuller understanding of what it means to be human, created in the image of God. Walking with the MoE’s will help me share Jesus, the Gospel & Theology of the Body with others, as well as spend time with a great group of Catholics will help mold me to be a better person & a better priest. Plus it will be fun to walk hundreds of miles down the East coast as well!
I was born and raised in South Dakota; the land where trees and most other forms of life are nonexistent, paved roads are lacking, and most people live without the use of technological devices requiring electricity. While these may all be a slight exaggerations and common misconceptions about the state, I really do love South Dakota. It’s has its own unique beauty. I am, however, very excited to be on the east coast. I love the beautiful landscapes and the busy cities.
Being from South Dakota adds an interesting aspect to my MoE experience. I have quickly discovered that I know very little about the geography of the eastern United States. It definitely will be interesting. I will certainly learn a lot and have many new experiences.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Who we are?
Conversion begins in our own hearts,which is why prayer is so important to our ministry. For this reason, everyday of our ten week walk begins with daily Mass. By receiving Christ in the Eucharist, we are given the grace to be the Love of Christ not only to those in our community but also to those we meet in the streets.
We walk throughout the day to be a witness of love. We are grounded in prayer-we pray with our lips, our hearts, and our bodies. In walking an average of twenty-five miles per day, we offer our fatigue as a gift of love to Christ and the people we meet. Our walking is both sacrifice and prayer.