Monday, September 29, 2008
I have wondered and worried about what I would say to you for a while now
I have also worried about if I would even be able to say what was on my heart
I need to warn that I have the blessing and burden of tears…
And I have no control over them.
Sometimes they come when I expect them
sometimes they don’t
Sometimes I dread them
sometimes they are incredible gift
And if they come I ask you to be patient with me.
After a lot of thought
The first thing I want to say as we celebrate
my 25 incredible years as a priest
is that I’m sorry
I’m sorry if I failed you
I’m sorry when I forget your name or your story
I’m sorry that I never seem to be able to find the right balance between
prayer and work in my life
I know that the greatest gift I can give you
Is the fruit of my relationship with God
I know I have work to do there
lots of work
and I want to do better for you and for me.
If I’ve ever hurt you by being under attentive or over attentive I’m sorry
I’m sorry if I’ve ever been angry with you…
Anger isn’t a regular part of my life thank God
but when it happens.
I can categorically say that I have never said anything of value
when I’ve spoken in anger…
Even when my message was right when spoken in anger the message has been lost
I need you and you need me.
I am your priest and we are companions on the road home
On this journey I own you the best that I can be
And I know that so often I just fall short.
Being a priest is all about being in relationship
With God and God’s people
And I know from experience
that no relationship
no relationship between a child and his/her parent,
ever reaches its full potential without the words
I’m sorry being spoken
and being spoken regularly
So from the bottom of my heart
I want you to know that I want to do better
The second thing I want to share on this occasion
is that as I reflect on it
I’ve come to see God’s presence in my life
And though I didn’t always see it at the time
in retrospect God’s presence is often very clear to me…
God blessed me with a wonderful family
There were not huge struggles.
We went on vacations together
and enjoyed each other’s company
there were lots of Sunday rides to nowhere
I was no Saint…
Greg I’m sorry that 39 years ago I told you I was going to blow up the house with you in it.
Now a days that could get you in trouble
We went to Mass every Sunday
in 18 years we never missed
unless we were sick…
and then you couldn’t go out the rest of the day
so we were rarely sick on Sunday
Mom marched us all off to SS Peter and Paul’s all of us once a month for confession.
I met so many good priest over the years ….who listened to me and helped me along
I was blessed with a loving good holy family.
(God’s Gift God’s Presence)
My family is the first example of God’s providence in my life
The faith my family gave me prepared me for life….
No matter where
I am no matter what I’ve done
In my joys and in my sorrow… I can never be alone
In high school I heard a call to the priesthood….
Over and over again
There was no billboard….
Just a quiet voice that kept coming
I entered to leave
To get it out of my head
The Seminary I found community I found brotherhood
I had always had friends but this was different
We laughed together, we broke the rules together,
we even studied together.
Once there the brotherhood kept me there
The seminary prepared me to live with all kinds of friars…
and to try and love them.
When I was sent to study in Italy
Everyone including me thought it was a mistake…
They usually send the smart kids there
I was of the give me a c and set me free variety
I learned to that I could do without and still have a full life
I learned what it was like to be poor
That store front church in a very poor rough neighborhood was like a cathedral to me
The pastor sent me out to be a kind street preacher and door to door evangelizer…. Yikes…
Taught me humility prepared me for MOP here at Catholic
Taught High School
Put order in my life…
if you weren’t prepared those kids would eat you alive.
On task Order…. Never my forte in college…
I can remember going to bed at night and saying God please help me sleep quickly so that I can get back in the class room…
At John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce
With Fr. Mark
I had my first experience in youth ministry
Learned how to give retreats
I learned how to run a youth group
I was so happy
Then our Fr. General came and asked me to go back to Italy
Out of obedience I accepted a difficult assignment in Assisi
I only lasted a year….
But I think it was a way for God to pull me from my comfortable life in Flordia and ready me for Campus Ministry
Western Connecticut State
Was my School…. For campus ministry..
The students there were my teachers… and have become some of my dearest friends
I learned that Pizza does not make a youth ministry
At Western someone told ma a line that has stuck with me forever
Always start with faith.
Faith leads to service always
Service leads to faith sometimes.
Here at Catholic
God helped me learn that I don’t have to do everything myself
God helped me to find wonderful people who share the vision
God help me learn to work collaboratively
The days of Father knows best are long gone…
I am so grateful for my time here at Catholic
I have been inspired here
I have been inspired by the prayer
I have been inspired by the students
The sincere confessions in the copy room of the Dufor Center
Wednesday Night adoration
The Gloria at the 9:00 PM Mass
An incredible group of people to work with.
Over and over again.
These and so much more have been epiphanies for me
Every place I was assigned was in some way a preparation for where I am now
And I am convinced that even now God is preparing me
For my future service in the Church
It’s kind of incredible that God is always present guiding and preparing me home
You know I have one of the little boxes that presistenly talks to you in your car
Go left God right
Slow down 10 miles over the speed limit
Whenever I make a bad turn it guides me back on course
Sometimes I make a wrong turn on purpose and it recalculate
Sometimes I just miss the turn and it recalculates
God does the same thing in life he works with us
He takes into account all of our choices good and bad
And he always tries to guide us home.
I have seen God’s presence in my life over and over again
and when you see something over and over and over again.
Then you just come to trust it in
I’m coming to trust in God’s presence
I want to trust it more
When my parents brought me to the baptismal font
Its as if they placed in incredible river of
Grace and I began a journey of faith
A life of faith is like floating down a long river… sometimes you just relax and float
Other times the current gets strong and you move fast
Other times there are rocks and obstacles and you have to maneuver around them
Sometimes many times you are afraid.
Sometimes people just get out of the river
Sometimes they want to go else ware and live otherwise
But just like it is impossible to be in a river and not be wet
So it is impossible to go through life and not be surrounded
By God’s love and God’s divine providence.
By God’s grace I let go of some of my dreams and my fears
And I let him take me down that river
Following his plan for me
I became a friar 35 years ago
I became his priest 25 years ago
There is nothing like being a priest
There is nothing like being invited into the very personal struggles of good people
There is nothing like having someone take the risk you show you their heart
There is nothing like holding a piece of bread and saying the words of institution
And knowing that that piece of bread will become the very body of Christ even if you are a mess yourself
Baptizing the next generation
When you prepare a person for death it is like taking
the hand of a sick person into and placing it in the very hand of God
There is nothing like being involved in so many of your lives
Picking you up when you fall down or get discouraged
Cheering you on when you succeed
And even with all of the struggles and trials… of priests these day
I am in awe and so very grateful for the incredible affirmation and respect I receive every day
Your smiles, your trust, your confidence mean so much to me.
Some of you came here to thank me for my 25 years a priest
In reality It is I who should thank you
So what am I supposed to say as we remember my anniversary of ordination ?
Let’s say I’m sorry more to each other.
What’s holding us back
Don’t be afraid
And your relationships will never be the same.
God is present In our lives…
God is present in your lives..
I hope that you can become more and more aware of God’s presence in your lives
I hope that you can come to feel his presence in your lives
I hope that you can be consoled by it.
Strengthened by it.
I didn’t tell you my story so that you would know
I told it to you so that
And when you find yourself doubting and you will
You could Hold on to my experience
Hold on to my story my faith.
Let me carry you a while
Don’t let your fears hold you back
Don’t hold you back
Let the current of God’s river take you
Let God take you where you he needs you
Even if its scary…
Let go of your plan and find his
and float down the river of faith
Allow God to take you where you have to go
Some how I did
and I am forever grateful
As we celebrate the Gift that God has given me
It is not you who should be thanking me
It is I who should be thanking you
Thank you for letting me be your priest.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Glory Be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be
world without end
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Today's Gospel is challenging and if you don't find it challenging and thought provoking then you haven't read it properly…
It is filled with symbolism so it is important to take it apart piece by piece
The workers in Palestine were the poor
They didn't have land of their own
or other means to sustain themselves and their families
All they had was the work of their hands and the sweat of their brow.
When the foreman went out he probably hired the best workers first.
A good foreman knew who worked and who didn't.
As the day drew on those not hired probably began to panic.
They had to go home and feed the family there were not a lot of safety nets in place at that time.
They stayed hoping against hope that they would be hired.
We never hear about the ones who gave up hope and left.
But some probably did
There were also probably some who just came late…
They didn't have their act together
Maybe they were the irresponsible
Whatever the case maybe
As the day wore on the quality of the work pool probably decreased but the foreman kept coming.
The later in the day it became the more the foreman gave a chance and took a chance on the workers.
The work was harvesting the grapes.
In Palestine the grapes came at the beginning of fall and soon after they ripened the rainy season would come.
If the grapes were not harvested before the rain the crop would be lost
The job was urgent.
The vineyard owner was desperate to get the grapes harvested
The wage was fair
It was probably sufficient for a family to live a day or two
That is why the first workers agreed to it.
The land owner is God…
He was desperate to harvest the grapes like he is desperate to bring us home to heaven.
What does this all mean…. How does it apply to us..
Like he promised the workers a fair wage everything they neede
He promises us all heaven, because he longs to give us everything they need
In heaven we will all be satisfied… there are no levels in heaven.
No one gets a better
No one would even want a better heaven
The workers are us..
All of us have a role to play in the kingdom
Whether we are good or bad
talented or not
Until our very last breath God keeps offering us the work of the kingdom
Begging us to follow his will
God loves us and longs for us
To live good lives, and to come home.
And that is what our work is…
To live good lives and bring others home with us
The workers who worked all day were angry they wanted more…
They wanted more than they had agreed to
They wanted more than they needed.
Instead of thinking of the good fortune of the others
they were lost in their own self interest
Enough was not enough for them…
At times some of us find ourselves feeling the same way
We fall into the temptation of saying what's in it for me.
Or even worse
Why live a good life now if those who come to God later get the same reward.This is the answer that I propose.
When we live good lives
When we live generous lives
When we aren't lost in our own wants and our own needs
The quality of life is always better because we are living according to God's will and God's plan.
Working for God's Kingdom is a gift in itself...
And if you think about it
It is presumptuous to assume that we will even be able to come closer to God later in life.
After a lifetime of choosing our will over God's will
what will make us think that God's will has any value at all
After a lifetime of poor choices what would make us think that we would even be able to figure out what a good choice is ?
The harvest is ready
The compensation is all we will ever need
The landowner is desperate for our contribution
Are we willing to go into the field or not ?
That's a very important question
Friday, September 19, 2008
The first is that Jesus was constantly on the move.
He didn't wait for people to come to him or seek him out
He sought them out
He was on a journey
The second thing we learn from the Gospel is that he did not journey alone
he had people with him.
As he shared his ministry with the disciples
The Apostles journeyed with him.
They preached with him, they healed with him
If he walked the roads of palestine by himself he would have never reached been able to touch the lives of so many people
13 mouths can preach more than one
26 hand can touch more than two
26 feet can journey more than two
More people's lives were touch because of the hard work of the disciples
But today we learn that there were even more people who assisted Jesus in his journey
There were many women who traveled with the group
Jesus and the disciples depended on them for food and logistical support.
As they traveled proclaiming the kingdom of God they were very much sustained by the work and generosity of these women
They were the unsung heros who fed them and found them places to sleep.
All of this teaches us that proclaiming the Kingdom of God like any important task takes a team.
You all understand what a team does.
You all understand that everyone can't be the quarterback or call the plays
You understand that everyone even the person who places the ball for the kicker has an important role to play (we saw what an important role indeed a couple of weeks ago.)
You understand that everyone has a task to perform
All of them are different
but all of them essential.
10 years ago we used to have a kid named Andrew Notardifrancesco...
they used to call him the mutant because he had legs that were huge.
When Notar was around we used to run the ball like crazy
It's been years since we ran the ball like that....
Our team suffered because we never really had that skill in our arsenal
No one was able or maybe willing to step us
for years we didn't run the ball well.
I hear now that Greg Brown is healthy we are running the ball again.
It's the same way with God's Kingdom
Everyone is needed
Everyone has their role
When no one stands up we suffer the kingdom of God suffers.
No one is exempt.
All of us have a task to perform
And everyone has to step up
Sometimes people sit back and say
Preaching the kingdom is someone else's task
Bringing people to God is someone else's job
Helping people be the good people they are called to be is the job of the priests of the good kids.
That's just plain wrong.
Fellas it is so important to examine ourselves
What are we doing for other people?
What are we doing ?
Do we ever help anyone ?
Do we ever go out of our way for other people?
Are people better because they know us or are they worse?
Have we ever encouraged someone to be the man he was created to be or have we just sat back and watch them go down the tubes?
We are all part of God's team
and we will be judged by our commitment
to helping other people find their way to God
Whether we are football players or not.
We will be judged...
All of us
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sometimes the rooms have that lived in look, other times their order puts my room to shame. There are posters on the walls and flat screen TVs , do they even make the old kind anymore? In the Millenniums they are often cooking and are happy to offer us something. We are almost always received with kindness and respect. Sometimes there are few awkward moments but we're pros at gliding through them. Yes it is room blessing time. I just finished my second night tonight two more weeks to go. I often say, I have blessed these rooms so many times I hope it will take some day (Just Kidding) Here is the prayer we say in every room as we sprinkle them with holy water..
Come Holy Spirit,
Bestow your grace on those who live, study, and sleep here.
Grant them your protection and safety
Inspire them to follow your will in their lives
Open their hearts to receive all who enter here with compassion and charity
Help them to study well
Console them when life becomes difficult
Never let them wander far from your love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord
Today we had a 2 hour staff meeting collaborative ministry is a lot of work. I had several appointments then a 1/2 hour nap. At 6:00 PM 20 young men who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life gathered for mass and a light supper and discussion. Each one stood up and introduced themselves and where they are in the discernment process.That's a big step for a kid, even going to a meeting like that is a huge step. One student admitted that he was afraid to tell his roomates he was discerning when he finally got the courage to talk to them to his surprise they both admitted the same thing. We watched the video "Fishers of Men" check it out on youtube. It is in two parts.
At 7:45 we started room blessings and when I walked into the office at 10:00 PM there were 25 students getting van certified, and two renew groups vying for the "prayer room" The men finally gave it to the women and found a place outside to break open the word.. A day in the life of CUA Campus Ministry...
... of late I have been concerned about the quality of our relationships, in other words how we treat one another. I am especially concerned that the quality of our student relationship rise above (way above) the level of plain old drinking buddies. If you speak to students they all value their friends, they treasure the relationships they have.
I have preached about this over and over again. I have spoken to students individually and in groups. I have gone to off campus houses and I just can't seem to communicate with adequate urgency the importance of helping each other be better people. I need to find a way.
Friends listen to each other, they are attentive to each other, they care about each other. Friendship is so much more than a group people we like to have fun with at least any worthwhile friendship is more than that. Friends lift each other up. Friends build each other up. FRIENDS MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER PEOPLE. This is so much more than a willingness to give or take a punch for a friend. When you give or take a punch for a friend you have already failed. How can we ever even let our friends get into a circumstance where punches are thrown ? How can we let our friends go down the tubes academically and say nothing or do nothing? Why do some laugh at the kid who is always drinking instead of trying to help them figure out why they are medicating themselves so much. Why do we look the other way when we see the quality of our friends' relationships is bringing them down not raising them up.
Don't get me wrong there are lots of very wonderful friendships and relationships here, it is just that when we fail each other, when we fail to step up for one another or be their for each other, things can go bad quickly.
I'm not giving up. I know we can do better and I will continue to try and find a way to get this very important point across, house by house, res hall by res hall, person by person.
Never forget the people you can really count on are the people who care about you enough to lovingly but maybe even firmly help you confront your demons.
If you have never confronted a friend about the choices they make what kind of friend are you ? If no one has ever cared enough to confront you about your weaknesses (we all have them) it is time to evaluate the quality of your friendships.
Listen to your priest we need to do better on this.
Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other. Look out for each other.
Something to think about indeed.
Monday, September 15, 2008
We wanted it to be perfect or as close as possible, all of us wanted to in some way help our Freshmen open the doors of their hearts to God and his love for them and we wanted them to get to know each other better. So much preparation and quite a few bumps but...
It was all grace.... even the thunderstorm which sent the both priests and penitents running into the dining room was grace.
The talks went well very well I'll post them as soon as I can. The Freshmen were open to the experience and happy to participate. There was time for fun and sports and a walk. There was time to meet new friends. Their were powerful moments of prayer and a beautiful celebration of God's mercy when 10 priests drove over an hour to hear confessions. (for many of our kids it was their first adult confessions)
Here are some Pictures see for yourself.
It doesn't get any better than this....
Thank you God, Thank you Staff and most of all Thank you Freshmen...
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Our CUA 9/11 memorial service...
They walked down the sidewalks in small groups, some were coming from practice, others carried their laptops, a few even got dressed up, all were respectful, some who stumbled upon the event joined in, others made an extra effort not to disturb and when the National Anthem was sung even those passing by stopped and faced the flag before continuing on their way.
It's been 7 years since that September day and every year our students have gathered in prayer someplace on campus. After year 5, I thought interest would fade, obviously it didn't. When we didn't plan anything that year, they did it themselves, in the back of Spellman Hall on the Rugby practice field,. There is always a significant crowd. Matt Patella is one of the perennial organizers. (Good Job Matt)
When you think about it it's not hard to understand why it is impossible for them to forget that day those moments of fear and compassion, cowardice, and heroism. They like all of us lost a little bit of our innocence on September 11th 2001 it is written on their (our) psyche indeed.
ABC's coverage on our Office Television..
It seems like yesterday !!! Where were you ?
Monday, September 08, 2008
Remember that building that used to sit empty at the center of our vampus it looked fine from the outside but was really not usable.... well with the help of the Knights of Columbus it is now Mcgivney Hall and a new home for the John Paul Institute for Marriage and Family.
A very special day for CUA indeed and our picture of the day.
Sunday, September 07, 2008
We live in an age which simply throws things away.
Yesterday I went to a place called Sonic.
And when my Southwest salad was brought to our picnic table
it was in a plastic bag in a plastic bowl with a plastic cover and plastic silverware…
I loved the salad but felt guilty the whole time eating it because my plastic meal will be an a landfill long after I’m dead…
We are a culture which finds it easy to throw things away
And sadly, pitifully it is just as often we find it easy to throw people away
We dismiss them
Or discount them or give up on them
Or put them in little boxes with as we judge them
He’s this or she’s that.
We don’t care enough to invest in people especially people with problems
or who just don’t seem to get it.
Or people in trouble.
Ezekiel was called by God
He was given an important task
He was called to be a watchman or a prophet
That’s what a prophet does he watches and warns
Ezekiel was called to be a prophet for all of Israel
He was to watch and warn them if they became unfaithful to the covenant unfaithful to God
A good watchman stays alert
A good watchmen doesn’t run and hide or think of himself when danger comes
A good watchman faces the threat, faces adversity
And God’s message to Ezekiel is clear
If you fail to fulfill your task as watchman
If you fail to warn someone
You will be held responsible for that person’s death
If we care enough to get involved when a person is in danger
If you try to warn them to reach out to them
Then you are not responsible for their sin.
When God calls Ezekiel Son of Man he is not using it in the same way that it was used about Jesus (in an eschatological sense)
Ezekiel is call Son of Man because he is a human
And by calling him human God is reminding us that
All of us are called to be prophets
All of us are called to be watchmen for each other
The Gospel also talks about the importance of being prophetic in people’s lives
It reminds us of our responsibility….
To care for each other to be watchmen
All of us are called to be Watch people if you will
for each other.
The Gospel reminds us that we are all responsible for each other PERIOD
It lays out a very concrete 4 step process by which we will be held accountable.
It doesn’t just tell us correct each other
But rather it tells us how we are to go about it.
Reaching out to someone
Correcting them is not an easy process and demands a lot of love but….
When a person is walking down the wrong road
When a person hurts us and in the same moment is really hurting themselves
We cant walk away
We can’t refuse to get involved
To do so would be like a watchman who refuses to fulfill his/her duty
To do so is to take the easy way out
And so what are we supposed to do
When someone is walking down the wrong road
First we have to go to them privately
We must first speak to them one on one
Talk to them calmly without anger…
We have to be careful because even if the message might be right
the way we deliver it might be wrong and then we lose that person
Next if it doesn’t work.. we need to bring some other equally concerned people with us.
Let them listen to us
Let them see if maybe we got it wrong
And if they agree then love demands that we return again
Calmly try and help that person see their error
If there is some kind of block between you and the person error maybe having a few others there will help
If that doesn’t work
Only then does the person’s error become public
Only then should anyone know
bring them to the church everyone who cares for that person should get involved.
And if even that doesn’t work
Then we cut our ties not because we give up on them
but in the hope that this radical step will call them back to health
Will call them back to god’s will
Will call them back to love
I would venture to say that this not wanting to get involved
This code of silence which is usually easy way out
Is by far our greatest sin on this campus
It is not sex
It is not drinking or cheating
It is not gossip
Our greatest sin is not caring or not caring enough
Our greatest sin is throwning people away like I threw away my plastic dinner
If we aren’t the ones throwing someone away then ….
We do nothing to stop them from throwing themselves away
We fail because we don’t want to bother
We fail because we have already dismissed that person as a looser
We fail because we went about it in the wrong way
We fail because we refuse to forgive
We fail because we are self-rightous and think we better
We fail over and over and over again.
We don’t want Catholic to be a police state everyone reporting on everyone else
I don’t want a university of people telling on each other…
He did this
She did that
That’s not what the Gospel wants.
If we love enough then we should rarely have to get to public phase of the fraternal correction
When should this correction happen ?
It should happen at night when two roommates are falling asleep
It should happen in the privacy of personal conversation
It should happen in small groups of people who call themselves friends
It should happen in ways that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the real motivation is care and concern
My heart breaks
When someone hurts themselves
Or fails out
Or medicates themselves continually with alcohol or drugs
No one cared enough to do anything
and by the time it comes to light it is simply too late
We need to step up and be the prophets that God has called us all to be
We need to love without counting the cost
Never give up on a person
Never take the easy way out
If we do then God remember what God said to Ezekiel
We to will be held accountable for their sins
We all of us need to do better on this.
We need to love more
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Thursday, September 04, 2008
I never cease to be amazed by our students and proud of them. Esto Vir (Latin for "Be a Man") is one of the essential components of our pastoral life on campus. They are just a bunch of normal goofy stellar young men who want more. They want to grow in faith and virtue and they want to help other men do the same. One of their main activities of the week is Thursday morning Mass at 7:30, literally the middle of the night for a collge student. They arrive at the last minute. They are wrinkled, sleepy, and some even a little smelly but they are there. The Gospel today was the call of St. Peter. How appropriate. There were over 40 men this morning not bad for the middle of the night. Hence the picture of the day.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
The Office of Risk Management called up (yep we have one) and told me about the possibility of a storm hitting on Saturday right when we have our Freshman Retreat with 237 students registered . They heard it from DC Alert the same folks who sent me a text message this summer warning me that the heat index would be 1000 degrees.
After a few more calls including one to the Charles County Office of Emergency Management... we sadly and regretfully decided, to reschedule the retreat for next weekend. I was heart broken the kids were heart broken. We've really, they've really worked so hard and so long to put something really special together for their friends.... Now we have to cancel everything trucks, tents, retreat center, food etc. And have everything reordered for next weekend Yikes. We can and we will.