Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Well, back safe and sound. Especially sound as we took a victory lap around the seminary while laying on the air horn to make sure everyone knew we where back. Safe as well. No one lost any limbs. There was a small bloody nose incident but nothing major. It's like my dad always says "alls well that ends well." Sure there where bumps in the road along the way, but we're all still friends. In fact, our brotherhood is stronger now than it was before. How great it was to spend time with the men from other seminaries who we see very intermittently.
The trip today was quick. We weren't sure how long it was going to take us to get the boys to the airport in time so we didn't mess around. We arrived back at the seminary about 7:30 or so. Just in enough time to get our marching orders for tomorrow. Back to the grind. Praise God. We hope over the next couple of days to give you some reflections on each of our experiences from the past week. We'll see how that goes, then decide what to do with the blog. May all of you be richly blessed for the varied ways you helped support our mission. Peace.
We have owed so many graces to the intercession of our Blessed Mother. Here we are standing outside the grotto of Notre Dame (Our Lady). Its a dark picture, but the radiance of the our Mother's love for her sons is quite evident. It was a blessed tour around the iconic Catholic University where we met one of Mike's friends Christina. We then drove through the night and are now in Omaha Nebraska. We're on schedule, but I'm sure we'll cut it close getting the boys to the airport on time. Stay tuned for more reflections. Peace
Monday, September 28, 2015
When you've got a bus full of 20 somethings you've got to give them run to room. Basketball, with some modified rules, has been the game of choice. That is until this afternoon when a wild shot went out the open window and landed somewhere on I-80
Here we are, a third of the way back on our return trip home. All is going well. We departed at 5am, stopped for coffee and fuel then hit the open road. Our first major stop was Pittsburg where we went to noon Mass at Duquesne University. Afterwards, Joe met up with an old buddy of his and we restocked on food for the alight journey that lies ahead of us. Right now we in Wood County Ohio, near Toledo. The plan, roll through to South Bend, Indiana, offer up a few Hail Mary's at the grotto of Notre Dame then continue trucking. We need to be back at the Denver Airport by 7pm Tuesday night when the Mount Angel boys fly back. Our brother Adain had planned all along to fly back from Philly so he stayed behind. This pic is of the remaining Helena Boys: Kirby driving; Joe and Tyler playing Cribbage; Andy, Cody, Mike, and Ollie playing Rummy; Me, just hanging out. Peace
All of our gang together
As Joe and I were rendezvousing after the conferences we met up with this neat couple from Kansas and a religious sister from France. Although she is from France, she is actually a US native who is now with the Jerusalem sisters who are in France. Since Joe and I were hungry, and so were the others, we joined forces and all went out to eat. They took the helm and led us to the craziest market-eating place I had ever seen. Shop after shop lined the inside of this place and people swarmed from place to place. As we wandered through the sea of people the thought came to me, if I get separated from these people, I will never find them again. And, if I get lost, I might not find my way back out. Nevertheless we found “the spot”, which, to me, looked like every other restaurant, and ordered our sandwiches. Although Philly is known for its Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches, the Philadelphians come for a different kind of sandwich. This restaurant is known for its roast beef sandwiches with sharp white cheddar cheese on which they add either sautéed onions or a broccoli sauce. Hungrily awaiting our Philadelphian treat, we left the restaurant zoo and headed for a place to sit and eat.
Eventually we settled on a slight ledge on the side of a closed street. The five of us sat and devoured our sandwiches as onlookers took pictures of the strange sight. Frankly, I don’t blame them; we seemed like something that would begin a bad joke. A sister, a couple, a seminarian, and a deacon were eating by the road . . . or a sister, two people, and two seminarians . . . You can pick your joke. We chatted for a while about the conferences and were having a lot of fun. This couple was amazing! They really cared about family issues and desired to start programs to assist married couples. They mentioned that in their diocese they are implementing a new program, which has been received well, focused on preparing couples for marriage and providing good principles to begin a strong marriage. They said that many non=Catholics have attended these programs including atheists and other Christians. The program is called Living in Love.
Sadly this wonderful couple had to depart, but this didn’t end our adventure. Instead Sr. Susannah was planning on going to the sights that we were planning and hoping to visit. So she became our new tour guide. We headed down the street a few blocks to the viewing of the body of St. Maria Goretti. Yes, her body. Much to my disappointment the caretakers of her body (relics) had covered her bones with clothes and her face with a mask so that she looks like she is incorrupt – that her body has not suffered the effects of decay. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this great saint. Maria Goretti was born in 1890 in Ancona, Italy. When she was 12, Alexander Serenelli, a man who helped at her parent’s house, attempted to rape her. She said to her rapist that she would rather die than be raped. At which point he began to stab her. A neighbor grabbed her body off the front steps of her parent’s house and took her to the hospital. While in the hospital she forgave her rapist just before she died. Alexander was later caught and sentenced to 30 years in prison. While in prison, Maria Goretti appeared to him in a dream and began to hand him roses symbolizing her forgiveness to him. Maria handed him 12 roses, one for each of the stab wounds he inflicted upon her. Alexander later repented and became a Capuchin friar and dedicated his life to prayer. Some people have opened his cause for canonization. Maria Goretti is the youngest canonized saint.
The shrine they had set-up for the viewing of the body of Maria Goretti was in the basement chapel of a local church. The line to get to view the relics stretched a quarter of a block. The inside of the crypt chapel was lined with posters explaining her life and booths to purchase souvenirs. Once we got up to the glass casket that holds her body, we were allowed to spend 15 seconds with the body and couldn’t take pictures.
Our next stop after seeing Maria Goretti was to walk across town to view the body of St. John Newman, the first canonized saint from the United States. In order to get to this church we needed to walk around 2-3 miles to the parish. The streets were rather barren. We saw a handful of people and most of them were army reserve agents who were keeping the area safe. Sr. Susannah was happy to have companions especially since some of these streets could be rather dangerous. As we walked we would greet people, we prayed the Rosary, and chatted.
The church was beautiful. Unfortunately they were celebrating Mass in both the upper and lower chapels. So we prayed a little bit. Outside the lower chapel was a foyer with a water fountain and a few benches. As I sat praying, Joe came over and saw behind me a small reliquary with a relic of St. John Newman. As Mass continued, Joe was downstairs during the Consecration. He noticed as the host was held up for the elevation that the body of John Newman was underneath the altar in a glass case. While they finished celebrating Mass, we went upstairs and viewed the upper church. It was beautiful! Deep maroon and gold colors lined the walls and give it a royal color. The great pillars and columns gave it a grand and expansive feeling. The décor reminded me of a king’s courtroom. Below this chapel was the body of John Newman. As we came downstairs to venerate his body, a Redemptorist priest, the order that staffs this church, was telling stories about the saint. We missed the majority of the stories, but we were able to see the body. The body looked so life like that we thought it might be incorrupt. After asking one of the priests he told us that this was not the case. We stayed and prayed a little, then left the chapel.
St. John Newman was born in Bohemia in 1811. Since his bishop had too many priests, Newman looked for another place to be accepted and ordained a priest. Thus he came to America. Desiring community life he joined the Redemptorist priest. He was appointed the bishop of Philadelphia and began to organize Catholic education. He is the founder of Catholic education in the United States.
After walking all day and the excitement of everything, we were rather exhausted. Therefore we decided to take a cab back to the train station. As we were trying to figure out how to call a cab or which bus lines would take us where we needed to go, a taxi cab pulled up and agreed to take us. Upon leaving the taxi, we parted ways with Sr. Susannah and departed for the train station.
Joe and I both remarked that, in this one day, we started at the convention on the family where they encouraged us to stand as strong witnesses to the joy and beauty of family life. Then we journeyed to visit two saints who stand as strong witness who stood strong and defended truth and justice. We went from being empowered to seeing those who were empowered. It was truly an incredible day!
We met Mike downtown selling peaches out of a trench coat. He suspiciously told us he was taking his mother and sister to the train station, but who knows what he was up to. Further on we were met with resistance from some folks with different views. Ollie was told that, “the wrath of God” was upon him. However, the Lord sent us a wonderful woman named Tanya, a police officer working the event. She asked to take a photo with us and then we were able to pray over her and with her. What a wonderful joy it is to be with our Christian brothers and sisters.
|2 Million estimated by Dcn. Andy Marrow|
|The Pub of Penn Valley. Boom.|
Sunday, September 27, 2015
Sorry for the late Posts. It's getting tough to find the time to keep up. This photo is from last night's Festival of the Families where Pope Francis spoke to us all. Currently, the three deacons in our crew are vesting and getting ready to help distribute Holy Communion in the Papal Mass which is coming up.
Friday, September 25, 2015
A few of the boys woke up at some absurd hour and went into town early for the festivities; they have their own story to tell. For the rest of us, the day began with Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish-our generous host- at 8:30am. Here we encountered the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist, who brought a group out from Marin Catholic in Cali. They jumped on the bus and we went out for coffee together. We gave 'em the hard sell on MT so who knows, we might have a group of these sisters in our diocese someday; keep this in your prayers!
Next, we loaded the train into town where we met Linda, a mom dragging her four kids into the festivities- this lady was stoked for her faith, and also stoked about us having dinner that night at the Pub of Penn Valley (more on this later).
We finally made it to downtown Philly- currently under the peaceful rule of martial law. It turns our this is by far the largest Secret Service operation in history, all of downtown Philly is on lockdown. This makes for empty streets and a great place to throw the football around. And as it turns out, playing catch in the streets of downtown Philadelphia is a great tool for evangelization. It's wild how many people were fascinated and excited about a group of young dudes in collars running around having fun. It showed me first the love people have for the priesthood and their deep desire for priests to be happy. It also revealed to me how people imagine priests: a bit of stodgy, cold, distant and usually incapable of any normal human activity or interaction. I have rarely had that experience with priests in my own life, but the stereotype does exist and Pope Francis rails on this often in his homilies.
|T-Fro and Ollie loving the Dinic's sandwiches.|
We went out after lunch to see the sites, only to find the Liberty Bell and Maria Goretti relic lines were too long. We heard about Old St. Joseph's Parish, the 1st Catholic Church in Philly, c. 1734. We figured we might actually be able to pray there so we headed that way.
Old St. Joseph's was beautiful, full of rich history, and relatively empty, however the organist playing upstairs didn't quite have his repertoire aced and the archivist greeting visitors at the door was rather excitable; this didn't quite make for an atmosphere of prayer. Further complicating things, they were shutting the doors in 20 minutes. Thankfully, Our Lord provided for his sons again; the good Jesuit Father who was telling us to leave saw the exhaustion on our faces and invited us to do our holy hour in their private rectory chapel upstairs, what a gift!
In our final approach, the Bismarck men joined us for a bite at the aggressively recommended Penn Valley Pub where we found out Linda had already made reservations for us- though we had not told her we would be going that night. Patrick our waiter comped us our first round of drinks and hooked us up with a free cab ride home, saving us an hour long walk.
If I were to try and spell out the many ways Jesus worked today, this blog post would be too long- it already is- and I wouldn't get any sleep. All I can conclude is: If this is a taste of the priesthood, my introvert-self is going to be exhausted all-day-'er-day, but I can imagine no greater joy in this world than to exhaust myself for Christ and his Church in hope of bringing souls to heaven.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Final night on the road before reaching our destination. Spirits and still high and enthusiasm for the events to come is building. More to follow.
Ole Mike Dirkson at the wheel keeping her cool. We're now in Ohio getting close to the state line. Looking forward to singing a little John Denver "Country Roads" as we pass through West Virginia. All's going well. Beautiful country. We figure another 6 or 7 hrs. There have been no fist fights yet. Philly here we come!
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
We've just crossed over into Missouri. What a day. Mike is now at the wheel. Think we'll push through the night. We're not making as good as time as thought, but taking the extra time to stop, stretch, and throw the pig skin around has been well worth it. The Lord has been good, a very joyful trip so far. Praised be Jesus Christ!
We took a quick pit stop in Quinter, KS at a local hardware store where we met the father of our fellow seminarian, Dcn. Luke Thielen, of the diocese of Salina, KS. (That is Mr. Thielen on the far left.) The quaint town had a soda fountain, where we could order drinks obscure to anyone in our era. Among the beverages ordered were chocolate Cokes, peach sodas, vanilla Dr. Peppers, Cherry Phosphates (look it up), and dill pickle-hot sauce milkshakes (drank by none other that Joe Paddock himself. Just kidding no one ordered that. Gross.) The employees in the store were very hospitable and kind, especially Kay (2nd on the left), the maker of our drinks! The wooden facade you see in the background was made in New York in 1904. It was a beautiful work, but even more beautiful were the encounters with those the Lord had placed before us, ordinary as they may have seemed.
After we gassed up and headed east, the bus settled down for a holy hour and a Divine Mercy Chaplet. Right as the prayer hour ended we saw a sign promoting Divine Mercy on the road side. We took this as providence to pray our chaplet, and wouldn't ya know it, as we ended the chaplet we saw another Divine Mercy sign on the roadside.
The Lord continues to guide us through Kansas. The destination is not the only part of this pilgrimage, but everything in between as well. God is showing us His providence and presence moment to moment, never leaving our side. Right now, Ollie, Andy, and Mike are playing trick-shot basketball on the mini-hoop in the back of the bus. Everything is moving along and shaping up well. Till next time!
Meet the kitchen crew of Totus Tuus to Philadelphia or bust. We've got a stove, cupboards, and an ice chest. Complete for anyone's culinary needs.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Friday, September 18, 2015
This mission is not our own. We nine men are representing a broader whole, the Family of God. That is you, the readers of this blog and those who support us in so many ways. In a certain way, we are taking you with us. With our posts and pictures you will be able to see the World Meeting of Families from our vantage point. But we also take you with us through our prayers. All of your needs and prayer intentions will be carried with us as we journey to see Peter and the Apostles. That is, Pope Francis and the bishops of the Catholic Church.
This is also a unique opportunity for the two seminaries to come together. This picture sums it up. On the left you see St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver Colorado where 12 of our men study. On the right is Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict Oregon where three more men study for a total of 15 Diocese of Helena seminarians. In the middle lies the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source an summit of our priestly formation. Flanking the Cross is our vocation slogan: "From the family of God for the family of God."
We are not self made men. Without the support of the Church in Helena and the universal Church, we could not carry on nor would we have a reason to. Therefore, in the days that lie ahead we would like to give you a glimpse into the lives of those you invest so much of your prayers and money into, the Helena Boys.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The pregame photo with the Helena Boys, who are studying at Saint John Vianney Seminary in Denver, CO, standing with the new Totus Tuus Mariam bus. In this picture are (from left to right) Oliver Santin, Michael Dirkson, Dcn. Andy Morrow, Tyler Frohlich, Kirby Longo, and Dcn, Bryce Lungren.
Soon to be added to the crew from Mt Angel Seminary in Oregon are Aidan Toombs, Joe Paddock, and Dcn. Cody Williams.
Soon the adjustments to our road vehicle will be complete and we can begin our journey to the East. May God grant us a safe journey.
For those who are reading this blog, please pray for us on our journey and feel free to comment if you wish for more details.