Day 23: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Leadership

So I’m thinking about some students while I’m away at another university here in Honolulu. Some are away on an alternative break to Philadelphia with my colleague.

One student is Maria Jose Barrera who you might remember from the video below.

Maria follows her call to service wherever she goes. This is her second Alternative break this year and so as a help to her lenten journey, I’m going to give her the book: The New Stations of the Cross: The Way of the Cross According to Scripture: by Dr. Megan McKenna. It’s a fine new rendition of the the stations and I hope she finds it as helpful and as moving as the times I’ve spent with her.

Thanks Maria, for simply being you and for sharing your gifts of leadership with us.

Day 22: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: A Birthday of Fun

Today is my wife Marion’s birthday and we are still in Honolulu. I have nothing on my schedule until dinnertime and so this morning we’ll head out to the water to do some whale watching on a lovely boat in Waikiki.

We don’t get to do things like this as work and time and other obligations often get in the way of just being together and doing things in nature and enjoying each other’s company. We actually do get to spend a lot of time together and think about how we might spend more time, so I can only imagine what happens to couples who don’t think about this and grow distant.

As the whales rise to meet us this morning, may we be reminded that God takes care of us and that nature is our reminder of how precious life can be.

For myself, I am blessed by the gift of this woman’s life who I have called my wife now for nearly 10 years of marriage and nearly 12 years of togetherness. May I never take her for granted.

And no, I won’t tell you how old she is. (I ain’t that dumb!). But doesn’t she look beautiful?

Day 21: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Remembrance

I visited Pearl Harbor yesterday and remembered my Uncle and Godfather who fought in World War II as well as, Bishop Joe Estabrook who served on the base for many years and who died recently.

The Arizona was destroyed after the Japanese surprise attack and over 1100 lost their lives. The poor guys never had a chance as radar was more like a luxury at this time and secondly, they were rewarded for finishing in second place in the military band conference that past night. Their reward was sleeping in and it ended up being their last reward as the unexpected attack caught them with their guard down.

My uncle often remarked that he saw a lot of action and wasn’t sure why he survived. The Nazis had them pinned down on a few occasions. Bishop Estabrook often said that he spent so much time with crying Marines that he was honored to be with them when these tough and brave men were at their most vulnerable.

While I certainly never favor war, I’m very much in favor of those who serve and have served our country. I admire their bravery and certainly there are some things worth fighting for. May we never forget their honor and service, especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. And may we continue to help those who are troubled by Post Traumatic Stress and other ailments–for they deserve our help at all costs.

Day 20: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Comfort

I just found out this morning that my dear friend, and now Deacon, Rich Andre, CSP has placed his father into Hospice. It wasn’t unexpected, but yet, it seems so difficult to hear those words. I remember how stressed I was when I merely thought my mother was dying about 10 years ago and she miraculously pulled through (I continue to contend that Fr. Hecker interceded for her through the prayers of Fr. Jim Lloyd, CSP).

So today’s gift is going to be for Rich, which means that I’m breaking my rule about sending things in the mail. Rich’s dad worked at PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates and that brought him much joy in those years. It’s one of my favorite ballparks and while there I bought an old school Pirate hat—the pillbox type that they wore during the 1979 World Championship. I’ve collected hats for years and now comes the time to give one away. So I’m sending this out to Rich upon my return home to his place in Knoxville, where he serves as a Campus Minister.

May it be a reminder of all that his father loved during his life, but most especially may it remind Rich of how much more he was loved by him.

Which reminds me, the Pirates had a theme song that year that topped the charts. It was Sister Slegde’s “We Are Family.” It seems quite appropriate to share that song and remind Rich’s family of how much they will need one another in the coming weeks.

Day 18: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: What Do You Give To Your Best Friend?

It was my best friend’s birthday and I forgot. I gave him a late call to wish him a Happy Birthday but that’s not quite enough.

We don’t see each other as much and he refuses to use Facebook so our calls are more of a rehash than an actual conversation. So my gift to Crash, as we call him is a day in May. Perhaps the ballpark beckons along with some dinner or lunch.

Today let us pray for good friends…may they never be so far away.

Day 17: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Something New

I’m on a Delta Flight to San Francisco, connecting through to Honolulu where I’ll be speaking at Chaminade University, the Island’s only Catholic University.

Last night I attended the 10th Anniversary Celebration of Busted Halo as I mentioned yesterday and I was thinking of my wife’s grandmother all night. I went to the family Christmas party one year and my wife’s grandmother, 90 years old sat with her husband, 96 years old, and looked at the hundred or so people in the room and said, “Louie! Look at what we did!” She beamed all day. And I did the same last night.

Video screens dominated the room with various displays of the work that Busted Halo does. It was very impressive and in a room full of high powered donors, it was exactly what was called for.

Stephanie Manowski who directs the Paulist Office of Media Relations came over and asked me my feelings about the evening. I replied, “Good Lord, I was here before we had office furniture!” I lowered my voice and humbly whispered, “Look at this now. Amazing!”

Unfortunately, Fr. Brett Hoover and Bill McGarvey were unable to attend. My two colleagues were big parts of Busted Halo’s® success and have, like me moved on to different ministries and jobs.

But we all saw. We saw what could be, what was needed and what our gifts and talents were. Those visionary moments continue with Fr. Dave Dwyer and Joe Williams and Barbara Wheeler now at the helm. And that vision is worth celebrating and continuing to give to others.

I am filled with gratitude today because others were able to “see me.” Fr. John Mullin, SJ saw my pastoral gifts as my campus minister at Fordham and after graduation, I started attending St Paul the Apostle where Fr. Eric Andrews and Fr. Brett Hoover continued to see much in me that I probably didn’t even see in myself. They started me on the road to ministry, to Busted Halo®, to Charis Ministries, to Googling God, and now to Buffalo where writing and they always enabled me to see and highlight my pastoral gifts–where I now so clearly see myself, especially in spiritual direction with others.

They’ve given me that gift of vision and now I’m able to pass that on to others.

The highlight of my evening last night was seeing a former directee of mine who I’ll call Susan (to protect her anonymity). She looks amazing. She’s lost over 50 lbs, she runs an amazing non-profit and she stands tall and confident. She’s amazing and she always has been. She came to me when I first started to do direction with people. I’m sure I made some mistakes early on, but I was able to help her see her need for silence and contemplation–to see her need to be herself with God, so that God could show her the gifts and talents she possess and how she longed for more meaningful work in her life. While I was there at the start of this thing called Busted Halo®, I think I’m a lot prouder of all the people like Susan who allow us to be there at the start of “something new” for them.

Also, Joe Williams, who now occupies my old office at Busted Halo® met me in a similar way and I was happy to be able to hire him initially part-time, to help us with producing videos, when he was looking to use his amazing skills differently. Joe now is a superstar. He produces all of those great videos that Busted Halo® is well known for, more now than ever. I’m so proud of him and of his work. And I’m glad I was a small part of his “something new.”

Whether that’s because they watched a video that inspired them, or listened to an engaging podcast or radio show, or read an article that moved them one step closer to God. Perhaps some go a step beyond the pre-evangelization that Busted Halo® provides and spends some time in spiritual direction, or on a retreat, or an alternative break we enable people to meet God. Maybe they give a year of their lives in service or simply come to mass, whatever it might be we need to be mindful that we stand on the precipice of an awakening, an awakening to what God has waiting for them in their lives.

And it is more than enough and it our purpose for being alive.

For today, my gift is gratitude for both my former colleagues in ministry but even more, I am grateful, for those who we have been blessed to journey with to awakening, those who were brave enough to let us see them in all their raw longing for “something new”, to live through the growing pains and to awaken to a new day.

Where we are able to see each other and all of God’s glory reflected in each other.

And that indeed is a “something new” worth waiting for.

Day 15: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: A Fond Early Farewell

So my colleagues Ed and Katie Koch are leaving us in May to move back to Pittsburgh. Not only will we miss them but we’ll also miss their darling daughter Addyson, pictured here on her birthday.

So I decided that since she’s headed to Pittsburgh, she should take my favorite thing that I received in Pittsburgh….the Pirate Parrot.

I love ballpark mascots and the Parrot is one of my favorites. So Addyson will be able to take a new friend to Pittsburgh with her mom and dad. I’m headed out of town and won’t see her parents for some time because they’ll be on break anyway and while we still have much time left together in ministry together, I am already missing them. So I hope this can serve as a memory of our time together and that Addyson will also have a small reminder of me as she’s too young to have any lasting memory of our time together in Buffalo.

Blessings on our last few months together, Ed and Katie and on your new addition to your family and of course to Addyson.

Day 14: Lenten 50 Day Giveaway: Beer and St Ignatius

Today’s guest post on the 50 day giveaway comes from Haze the Dog.

Dear Aunt Megan,

Thanks so much for dog sitting me while mom and dad are away. I can be a bit rambunctious and attention seeking, especially while dad’s away because he’s my pack leader. But I shouldn’t be too much trouble.

So while mi casa es su casa for a week or so, dad has left you a few items. The first is a case of beer for you and Carolyn to enjoy while he’s away.

But wait, there’s more….

After your time in JVC as a volunteer where you served the neediest of people in the Big Sky country of Montana, I figured you might have developed the same kind of love for the Society of Jesus that dad has. So enjoy this t-shirt and I hope you can enjoy the week with me too.

Love, Haze the Dog