Tuesday, June 24, 2008

As we enter week three

Week three has begun and I am in much disbelief as to how much we have walked. We have made it into five states so far, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. The good news is that the pain is becoming less, the bad news is...well I have no bad news, this walk is awesome!

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.

~ Maggie

From the leader's desk ...

Oh, man. Leading is definitely difficult. Leading many people down the east coast, while maintaining a prayer life, daily Mass attendance and managing our time has been the most interesting experience.

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!!!

This post brought to you by codeine

It has been a long and event-filled week. We’ve just finished our romp through the rolling hills of Vermont. I, Scott, got to play official tour guide for the last leg of the trip. We passed within spitting distance of my hometown and, randomly, were able to meet up with my sister Nicole for lunch. We were also able to meet up with my brother and his wife in Troy, NY… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

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.

~ Scott

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Week one

Well, week one is over which means we have completed 164 miles. Currently I am writing from a grade school computer lab in Barre Vermont, where we have been staying for the weekend. In these 164 miles there have been many prayers offered up along with many blisters formed! I am grateful for my experience in healing blisters, because I have never seen so many awful blisters in my life. Some have been so bad that they have been named, married and then they some how procreated! Although painful, it has been awesome traveling this week; we have already been in 3 states and meet many wonderful people.

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!

Matthew 10:7-13

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.

Training...Thoughts from Maggie

Although training was over a week ago, I still think it is good to post about how wonderful it was!

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

This is my Bio...It only took me 3 weeks to write it!

So, My name is Maggie and I am from Barrrington IL. I studied Sports Medicine in Waukesha WI at Carroll College, then I moved to New York City. After working for 1 1/2 years in a Physical Therapy clinic I decided to go back to school for a Masters in Exercise Physiology.

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.

The Agony of De Feet

We finished our training in Brooklyn, listening to the sage words of Monsignor Reilly at the Monastery of the Precious Blood. One of the Adorers of the Precious Blood nuns stole our heart and so we all made a pact to kidnap Sister Precious when we swing through NYC later this summer.

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.

~ Scott

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One week down

Greetings from Saint Vincent Archabbey in scenic Latrobe, Pennsylvania! It’s difficult to believe that we began our training only one short week ago—the amount of learning and bonding (and laughing) over these past seven days has seemed to encompass at least a month.

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.

-Scott Wilkins

Monday, June 02, 2008

Scott Wilkins

My name is Scott Wilkins and I’m the token bearded man on this year’s walk. I joined the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday of 2007 (St Faustina, pray for us!). Apart from beard-growing, my hobbies include reading and doodling. I often doodle at the expense of my reading… which is quite inadvisable for graduate students. I’ve been working on PhD in American Literature for about two years now and, Lord willing, I’ll start teaching in the Fall. I joined the Missionaries of the Eucharist at this year’s March for Life and after tasting a bit of their community life and the abundant joy that radiates out of them, I decided that my summer had to be spent with them! Please pray for me as I discern the Lord’s will for my life.

Meredith Beck

Hello! My name is Meredith Beck. I am 22 years old, live in the Philadelphia area, just graduated from Drew University with a B.A. in English, and I am not Catholic…yet. During this past school year at Drew I became close with a couple Catholics at school and one of them went on the walk with the MoEs last year. In the past nine months, through my experiences in the Catholic community, some solitary study, and lots of prayer I realized that God was calling me to Catholicism. I am really excited to start taking RCIA classes this fall. Since I cannot start until the fall, however, I want to be involved as I can before then, which is what drew me to this walk. I want to spread the Theology of the Body to the country and I want to become part of a strong community of young Catholics. While I am very excited and enthusiastic to be here, I am also nervous that I am going to mess something up! Please pray for all of us that as we walk this summer we are safe and able to impact and educate our brothers and sisters.

Sarah Maple

Hello, my name is Sarah Maple and I am from Belmar, NJ. With one semester left, I hope to graduate from Drew University this coming December with degrees in Religious Studies and Ethics, and continue on to the Pope John Paul II Pontifical Institute of Family and Marriage Studies in DC. I’m excited to be spending time with the MoEs, whom I’ve known for about a year and a half through association with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. Aside from being a student and an Associate of the CFR’s, I am also a volunteer at the Theology of the Body Institute, and hope to contribute my previous experiences to our formation process. While I won’t be with the Missionaries all summer, I am looking forward to my 21st birthday, when I’ll be present at Pope Benedict XVI’s closing World Youth Day Mass in Sydney on July 20th. I’m also excited and interested to see how Theology of the Body is presented to the youth and young adults at World Youth Day this year!

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.

Annie Hu

Hello hello! I’m Annie Hu from Malaysia, currently residing in New Jersey as an Au Pair. I am extremely excited about walking with the Missionaries of the Eucharist. This would be an impossible feat if I were in Malaysia as it is mainly an Islamic country and the government is not entirely open to other religious organization evangelizing the public. I truly hope that this experience will help bring people around me (and me myself) closer to Christ and His love for mankind. I am sure the walk would generate a lot of interest from my friends, both in the United States and Malaysia, and hopefully would cultivate a desire to learn more about the Theology of the Body.

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.

Jessica Newman

Hey y’all! My name is Jessica Newman and I will be the leader for the walk this summer. First of all, PLEASE PRAY FOR ME, so that I can be a virtuous leader for this summer’s walk. I am currently a senior philosophy major at the University of Maryland, College Park. This will be my second walk from Maine to Washington, D.C. and I am very excited to be able to lead.

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.

Zack Swantek

I grew up in New Jersey & was an English & Religious Studies major at Drew University. After graduation, I started my own business & began pursuing all the things that society tells you will make you happy. However, I always felt a longing for more. Though always religious, there were a lot of things I didn’t understand about my faith, which kept me from fully embracing God’s love. I began spending more time in prayer, Eucharistic adoration & Bible study. Not only did I find the happiness that was eluding me, but I also began feeling a calling to be a priest!

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!

Andi Helland

Hi, my name is Andi Helland. I am 19 years old and am a junior at South Dakota State University. I am currently pursuing a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. I am not yet certain what my plans beyond college are, but we shall see where God takes me.
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

Summer 2008 has begun!

Our summer training for our walk in 2008 has begun. The next few blog postings are about each of our walkers. We are staying at St. Vincent's Archabbey (http://stvincentmonks.com/) and will be here until Thursday. Pax tecum!

Who we are?

Every summer we, the Missionaries of the Eucharist, are walking from Lewiston, Maine to Washington, DC to proclaim the beauty of the Catholic faith to everyone we meet, specifically through the Theology of the Body.

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.