It is so much easier to trust God when you are not dangling from a craggy cliff above a river of roaring water.
We tell God that we trust Him in all things, yet, are we willing to let go and jump?
Will we bash our head upon the rocks below?
Will we drown?
We pray for guidance, but do we pay attention to the silent whispers to our soul, telling us what to do?
My spiritual director loves to quote movies, and one scene she loves is from the Kevin Costner version of "Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves."
In the scene, Robin was fighting Little John in the river and he has him grasped by the neck.
Robin asks him: "Do you yield?"
Little John replies: "I can't bloody swim"
Robin: "Do you Yield"
Little John: "Yes"
Robin: "Good, now put your feet down."
When we pray and ask God for rescue and help, I think we have to be willing to put our feet down! Perhaps there is something below, or perhaps He has His arms out ready to catch us.
It's so very difficult sometimes, but letting go, might just be the beginning!
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Sunday, August 26, 2012
by Karen Mahoney
Special to Your Catholic Herald
After Fr. Ricardo Martin Pinillos spent a few days acclimating to his new home at the Sacred Heart rectory in Racine, he decided to explore a bit. Since he had not seen the basement, he started there. Unfortunately, the trip below was literally quite alarming.
“I went downstairs, but no one had told me that there was an alarm in one of the doors and it went off,” he said. While he the story is funny and cute now, he admitted that while he enjoys change in his life, setting off the alarm was not one of those instances. “It felt anything but cute that day!”
Ordained in 2003, Fr. Martin has had several transitions during his nine years as a priest. In July, he was assigned part time as Administrator of Sacred Heart and with the Metropolitan Tribunal after finishing his studies in Canon Law at Catholic University of America. He has also served as pastor of Prince of Peace in Milwaukee, St. Patrick and Cristo Rey in Racine and assisted at Good Shepherd Parish in Alexandria, VA while attending CUA.
From the beginning, change can be exciting, but is rarely easy. From infancy, there is a struggle to crawl, to walk and to form sporadic words into comprehensible sentence. The comfort of daily life with parents are exchanged for day care or school and learning to read and write along the way. Finding a niche in a new environment can also be frustrating, and at times, there is a tendency to give up. However, perseverance can bring incredible results that surpass even the most colorful imaginations.
Geographically, a move can be traumatic or cathartic—but surely, the process through the intricacies of packing and leaving friends and loved ones behind, is often an unraveling of detail entwined with memories. But, once the boxes are unpacked, new memories begin to form and often, the move was a positive step into something much better.
For priests, moving is part of the vocation, and it is not always easy. In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, priests generally serve a parish for a six-year term that is renewable once, and new assignments usually begin in June or July. Newly ordained priests will generally serve as an associate priest for three years and then assigned as parish administrator for a year. This gives the priest and the diocese some flexibility in case the assignment is not a good fit before the six-year term begins.
“I know most people don’t like change but I actually thrive with the emotions and the novelty-getting to know a new place and find out how things work,” said Fr. Martin. “It’s exciting to have the opportunity to meet new people. To see how an institution works, to discern its strengths and weaknesses, to discover the intricacies of how things work, either at the parish or at the Tribunal.”
The most challenging aspect in the move for Fr. Martin is in learning new names, and in not disrupting the flow of parish life.
“But I really enjoy change and new beginnings,” he said. “Meeting new people on the one hand, and discerning the many strengths and the few weaknesses of an institution is an interesting process.”
For Fr. Peter Berger, new Administrator of St. Mary Visitation Parish in Elm Grove, the transition was an opportunity to go back to practicing what he was trained to do, serve the people in a parish. Ordained in 2005, Fr. Berger was assigned to Lumen Christi Parish in Mequon before he was called to serve as Vocation Director for the Archdiocese.
“That was my only experience serving as a priest in a parish prior to moving into working at the Vocations Office,” he said, adding, “I enjoyed the opportunity to serve as Vocation Director for the Archdiocese, but I am thrilled to be back doing parish ministry, particularly in being assigned to St. Mary’s Visitation Parish. Returning to parish ministry is returning to the reason I wanted to be a priest as well as what I feel God has called me to do.”
Because relationships take a long time to build, Fr. Berger finds that the most difficult aspect when transferring to another position or parish.
“Trying to learn people’s names as well as the dynamics of a parish takes time and energy,” he admitted. “But, while it is challenging, it can also be one of the most rewarding parts about being a parish priest-getting to know people and becoming a part of the life of a parish community.”
For some priests, the transition to feeling at home in their new parish takes several years, while others feel most comfortable by the end of the first year.
“Going through the yearly cycle once, builds up knowledge and experience and makes you feel that you know what is going on and you have come to know people and they have come to know you,” said Fr. Berger. “It is a joy being in relationship with others and trying to draw closer with them to Christ and the Church and being present for people in important moments in their lives, but also being present to people in the day to day reality of existence. You also wonder what God is going to do next and while that can be frightening on the one hand, (because of) the unknown, it can also be exhilarating.”
When Fr. Daniel Janasik moved from his first assignment as associate pastor of St. Francis Borgia Parish in Cedarburg to administrator of St. Leonard Parish in Muskego in June, there were so many going away parties that he jokes that it felt as if he were attending his own funeral for two months.
“You hear what seems like all these eulogies about yourself and everyone says goodbye,” he explained. “It was sad to say goodbye for me because I really loved them. But, in the back of my mind, I heard all sorts of great things about St. Leonard’s and I was happy to receive an appointment there. It was sad and exciting, but it was about a new reality and a new challenge.”
Seminarians are prepared with knowledge of what will be taking place throughout their vocations. Workshops and discussions help prepare for the emotional roller coaster that corresponds with moving to a new environment; but when the new appointment comes along, the head knowledge does not always coincide with the matters of the heart.
“Leaving people and saying goodbye to relationships is very difficult,” admitted Fr. Janasik. “We are walking with people through the best and worst moments in their lives and sometimes a mix of all of that. Part of a parish priest’s job is being immersed in people’s lives and in knowing we belong to a wider Church. I don’t think it will get easier as I move to other assignments. You get to love people and then you have to let go of good relationships.”
With his new parish just minutes from his parents’ home, Fr. Janasik is experiencing what he calls, ‘the clashing of two worlds.’ Because the distance is not an issue, his parents are able to attend his Masses. The view from the altar to the pew finds familiar faces mixed with the unfamiliar.
“It is strange saying Mass with my parents there, but yet gratifying as it affirms my vocation,” he said. “I see their friendly faces in the pew and yet, I am learning people. Everything in ministry is about relationships, and the parishioners are strangers to me and I am a stranger to them. We are getting to know each other, sometimes it is fun and sometimes it’s frustrating—it will be much easier once I learn names and get to know people.”
Immensely helpful to Fr. Janasik is former St. Leonard pastor and Vicar General/Moderator of the Curia, Fr. William Kohler.
“He has been mentoring me and been a huge help in this transition,” he said. “I am able to bounce things off of him. He knows this place really well and gives me very helpful advice.”
Similarly, Fr. Sean O’Connell, former associate pastor of St. Dominic Parish, Brookfield, and currently administrator of Queen of Apostles Parish in Pewaukee has come to rely on Fr. Dave Reith, pastor of St. Dominic for support in learning how to run a parish, and handle the nuances, various personalities as well as remembering the names of 1200 members.
“It is challenging now as an administrator because everything comes to my desk,” he said. “When I was an associate I could pass that onto Fr. Dave and now the buck stops with me. I have to make official decisions on financial and personnel issues that arise and everyone is staring at me looking for answers. I consult with Fr. Dave, as he was the greatest mentor I could ask for. I have him on speed dial and have contacted him several times. He has taught me some amazing tools on how to be a great pastor and how to love the people of God. There is no one better than Fr. Dave.”
Becoming the administrator of Queen of Apostles has been a welcoming experience for Fr. O’Connell, who admits that the best part of being a priest is Sunday Mass.
“This is my one opportunity a week to see everyone, or as many come to interact as part of our parish family,” he said. “I am a family person. I come from a loving and supportive family and when I get to see families come to have spiritual enrichment, renewal and celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass, it puts a smile on my face. I am excited to be gathering with this community. I absolutely love being a parish priest and this is the greatest vocation for me, personally—I am already at home here.”
Ordained in 1976, Fr. William Stanfield knows a thing or two about the logistics and emotional upheaval associated with moving to new parishes. For 32 years, he served as pastor of a number of parishes, but the past four years, he served as Vice-Rector and Director of Pastoral formation of St. Francis de Sales Seminary. In June, he was assigned to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in North Lake. Not only does he have a new parish to shepherd, but he continues his ministry as Vice Rector and Dean of Formation at St. Francis de Sales.
“This isn’t a big move for me as I have moved six times since I was ordained,” he said. “The most difficult aspect of the move is in getting to know the people and how things are done.”
While he admitted that he couldn’t speak for the parish side of the transition, for him, the move to Blessed Teresa has been a welcoming experience. However, with 2100 parishioners to care for, he admits that he has many new names to learn.
“It will take a while to really get to know them and what goes on in the parish,” he said. “But I love working with people and look forward to working with everyone.”
After serving the Milwaukee Archdiocese as a priest for 20 years, Fr. Timothy Bickel understands the reasons for moving, and while it can be enormously difficult, realizes they are necessary. In June, he moved from pastor of St. Agnes Parish in Butler to St. Mary Parish in Menomonee Falls.
“I was blessed to spend 12 years with the faith community of St. Agnes Parish as their shepherd and mentor,” he said. Therefore, it is very difficult to accept the necessary change. I was very sad to leave St. Agnes, but at the same time, I was excited to begin my ministry with the people of St. Mary Parish. Now that I have been at St. Mary for over a month, I find that there really hasn’t been any difficulty in changing parishes. People are the same wherever you go and all people need love, compassion, a hug and someone to guide them in faith.”
Losing the connection with his parish family and bridging new connections is the most difficult aspect associated with the move to a new parish. Week after week, Fr. Bickel knew what his former parishioners were dealing with on a personal and parish level.
“Now that connection is gone and I have to learn the history of new faces and families,” he explained. “It takes time to get to know the people in the pews and from their perspective, I know they are wondering who I am and how long I will remain as their pastor. They have been very welcoming, and I have been embraced by the young and the old who gather for weekday and weekend Eucharist.”
At times, the changes seem abundant and challenging, but there are also instances, such as when celebrating Mass that Fr. Bickel knows he is already home.
“When we gather to celebrate the Eucharist, it doesn’t take long to feel at ‘home’ because we are all at home with the Lord,” he said. “I know this is where God has called me to minister and to serve. I hope to bring about a spirit of joy and enthusiasm for the faith, which we profess. Getting to know this new community is also rejuvenating and encouraging.”
On the other side of active priestly ministry is forced retirement and the emotional and physical changes that can shatter the very core of lifelong service to God. Ordained in 1955, Fr. John Naus, S.J served Marquette University for 48 years. Among other things, he taught classes in the Philosophy of Humor, served as Dean of Students, Director of Spiritual Welfare, residence hall minister, assistant to the president, associate professor of Philosophy, performed as Tumbleweed the Clown in nursing homes and at Children’s hospital, and frequently celebrated Mass on campus.
Living at St. Camillus since suffering a stroke in 2004, he still traveled to Marquette every day. Three weeks ago, health issues forced him to retire and for the first time in nearly 50 years, he struggles with not being able to go to work.
“This has been very hard on me, because I loved what I did and loved being at Marquette,” he admitted. “There is a store downstairs in St. Camillus and I found this card that had a quote from Jeremiah 32:37 on the front. It said, ‘I am the Lord the God of all mankind, is anything too hard for me?’ Inside it says, ‘When you think you can’t, God’s love says you can.’ It really spoke to me and I think it just says so much.”
While he will no longer be serving in active priestly ministry, the many friends he has made throughout his lifetime comfort the 88-year-old Fr. Naus. Recently, he worked with volunteers to prepare 4000 Christmas cards that will be sent this next season. In addition, he looks forward to a retirement party on August 28, given by the university.
“I am getting through this difficult time of my life by praying, thinking, and keeping in contact with close friends. I am grateful for the dear friends I have had for 48 years at Marquette,” he said. “And I know that despite how I feel and how hard this is, there is still God and he is with me.”
Although officially, Fr. Joseph Hornacek is retired, he appears to be as active as the priests who have not reached the age of retirement. Don’t be swayed by appearances, however, as he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing.
“You know it took me 45 years to be a priest, and now I am doing exactly what I studied and was trained for,” he said, laughing. “I have no leaky roofs to repair, no personnel issues, or budget issues. I love it and am able sleep more than 5 hours a night now. It is just wonderful.”
Throughout his priestly vocation, he moved to seven different parishes, served at St. Francis de Sales Seminary, and in priest personnel work, and in 1998, became the Vicar for Clergy.
“When I was nearing my 6th year as the Vicar for Clergy, Archbishop Dolan asked me if I wanted to renew, but because I had such a difficult job removing priests due to the sexual abuse problems, the last 2 ½ years of that position were very challenging,” he explained. “I told him I wanted to go back to parish work and I didn’t care where he sent me. I was assigned to St. Anthony on the Lake in Pewaukee and stayed there six years until I was 70 and decided to retire.”
Before Fr. Hornacek retired last year, Bishop Sklba contacted him about assisting in priestless parishes, so he began helping out as a supervising priest at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Milwaukee. Working with former seminary classmate, Fr. Richard Mirsberger, the two alternate Mass and confession schedules at St. Catherine, as well as St. John Nepomunk, and Trinity of Village and Manor Park assisted living centers.
“I have a wonderful life and have plenty of time to work on my homilies, do cooking and laundry and my cleaning,” he said. “I get to sit with my sister who lives in the area, and have lunch with her every day. I just love it.”
Saturday, August 25, 2012
Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic HeraldThursday, 23 August 2012 09:47
Stooped over the parched dry earth on a sunny morning, a group of volunteers pulls Japanese knotweed, garlic mustard and other invasive species from the campus of the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi. “Garlic Mustard Queens,” are what Sister of St. Francis of Assisi Mary Louise Schramer affectionately refers to the tireless helpers.
It’s back-straining and seemingly never-ending work, but there’s laughter, camaraderie and conversation as the volunteers make progress. Once cleared, the land underneath will be primed to grow native plantings.
For hundreds of years, they have quietly served in isolated convents, maple-shaded hospitals, and schools and orphanages on their own ecologically minded campuses. They have run retreat centers and gardens and have cared for the earth. For decades, religious sisters from around the world have been little-noticed stewards of the land.
Since 1849, the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi made their home in Milwaukee, south of the bay of Lake Michigan on a strip of land known by the native people as “Nojoshing” or “straight tongue.” The German immigrant nuns were pioneers, and among other vocations within their order, were called to become caretakers of the earth.
Sisters push to preserve property
Now, the sisters are pushing to preserve the property at 3221 S. Lake Drive, St. Francis, by finding new means to protect their 21.5 acres of open space. Thanks to a $20,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources and a $3,500 grant from Freshwater Future, the sisters are closer to restoring the property to a more mindful, spiritual and natural state that will serve as a model for sustainable urban land use.
According to Sister of St. Francis of Assisi Helene Mertes, the climate grant from Freshwater Future will help develop a climate adaptive land use management plan for the motherhouse complex, incorporate climate resiliency, sustainability and best practice models, and will serve as a community teaching tool.
“We hired BHE Environmental Inc. from Cedarburg to help look into the future for climate change and how to focus different things on our property as the climate changes,” she explained. “We are looking at water management, and invasive species plants and restoration of the wetlands and building up of the wetlands and forest. The study will be produced into a document that will allow us the opportunity for future grants to preserve our land.”
The funding from Freshwater Future opened the opportunity for the DNR grant, according to Sr. Mertes.
“When we did the environmental study on the campus, we had extremely invasive weeds in our Deer Creek wetland area, which borders the west end of the motherhouse grounds,” she said. “The Japanese knotweed was 9 feet tall. We were told by BHE to call the DNR to see if they could help us.”
Grant helps in removal of invasive species
Surprisingly, the area classified as a verified wetland and the sisters could apply for the grant to remove invasive species and restore the space with native plantings.
“It took most of the funding to get rid of the weeds,” explained Sr. Mertes. “But this can be a renewable grant, so we are hopeful to be able to remove all of the invasive species as it is an ongoing problem.”
In addition to the grant for restoring the campus, the sister volunteers, retired sisters and approximately 25 lay volunteers have agreed to bring new life to this sacred ground.
With proceeds from the annual “Wine and Vine” event in August, the sisters are restoring the 1912 grape arbor. On Aug. 18, the sisters hosted their fourth “Wine and Vine” event to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the grape arbor.
“We’ve actually been building up to this event for the past few years,” said Sister of St. Francis of Assisi Stella DeVenuta, a coordinator of Wine and Vine. “The arbor was constructed in 1912 and has been a focal point in the community,” she explained. “It has been a place of beauty, quiet and reflection for the sisters and others. And it has been a host to numerous receptions and other activities, a tradition what we hope will continue for many years to come.”
Reiti Hermitage is sacred space
Nestled in the midst of the grape arbor, wetlands and motherhouse, is the Reiti Hermitage, a studio-cottage with screen porch, for those needing a respite from the outside world. Available for a day or longer, the hermitage provides a scared space for women, men or couples seeking a place for solitude and prayer.
“The hermitage is very popular and used constantly, year round,” said Sr. Mertes. “Some people come and ask for spiritual direction from one of the sisters, but most come for quiet time and private retreat from the stresses in their lives.”
Continuing with the sisters’ desire to provide an overall campus of sustainability, respect for the land and peace, they are making other improvements to develop a complete sense of spirituality.
Between two vegetable gardens is the composting area. Compost from food scraps has fertilized the large vegetable garden, which provides fresh vegetables for meals during the summer for the sisters at the motherhouse and Clare Hall. Sisters who live off campus, but desire a space to garden, cultivate a smaller garden on the grounds.
Future dreams include ecology center
“We also have a bat house down by the garden area, so bats can take care of the mosquitoes and insects in the area,” said Sr. Mertes. “One of our really big dreams is to have an ecology center and use it as a training tool for bio-diverse gardening. The building would have a full kitchen, bathroom and library and we could host classes or school groups. As many of us are educators, this would allow us to continue this teaching trend in the future.”
The sisters recently received approval to construct a hoop house and steam house to allow the early cultivation of more native plants said Sr. Mertes.
“We can also get some of our seasonal plants started earlier as well,” she said. “We have increased our orchard and added apples, cherries, pears, peaches, plum and apple trees.”
After St. Mary’s Academy closed, the soccer field remained unused. The sisters are planning to transform the green space into an urban forest with walkways winding among groves of sugar maples, red maples and beech trees. Between the orchard and the urban forest, a labyrinth is planned.
Green burial grounds possible
Plans also include green burial grounds. The sisters are exploring an environmentally safe option that interests people who are looking for an alternative to cremation and standard casket and vault burial.
Since April, the campus has been abuzz with the addition of honeybee hives. According to Sister of St. Francis of Assisi Margaret Kruse, the introduction of the bees is just one of the endeavors linked to applying ideas from the Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi’s Land Use Committee.
“We purchased seven beehives,” she said. “We have been having pollination happening in the neighborhood and up to 2.5 miles away. So, the hives are really helping. We expect over 240 pounds of honey from these hives this year.”
Caring for the bees is local beekeeper Charley Koenen, who gave a presentation on the benefits of honeybees to the sisters before the bees’ arrival. He compared the bee colony, which is interdependent, to the community life of the sisters. He compared the framework of the hive to the congregation – sisters working together for the betterment of the community and the benefit of the earth in general.
For Sr. Schramer, the extensive work on the campus will provide a sense of retreat, serenity and peace to all who visit the grounds.
“We want to develop the whole spiritual aspect here, and I think we are doing that,” she said. “It is a reflective area, and if we eventually develop the ecological center, it will also be good for overall spirituality and respect for the earth.”
According to Sr. Kruse, visitors usually comment on the deep sense of peace felt when walking the grounds.
“They say that they can feel God’s presence in the environment themselves and all we are doing here to protect this space,” she said. “We try to live and speak our faith and our desire is that people coming to the property will experience God. That says a lot about what our faith is about. We have 44 sisters here on the motherhouse grounds who are praying around the clock and that whole atmosphere of prayer and spirit comes forth from that. I think all that together speaks of our faith.”
Thursday, August 23, 2012
Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic HeraldThursday, 23 August 2012 09:59
They fly through the air with the greatest of ease, wear glittering costumes, receive the adoration of a new audience each night and travel the country.
The transient life of circus performers looks thrilling and glamorous to children pining to run away to become trapeze artists or jugglers; and gypsy-like to adults watching the scenery change as the circus comes to town.
Despite the often-stereotypical views of circus performers, most adults remember wishing they could don greasepaint and multi-patterned clown outfits, tame lions, walk the high wire or fly out of a cannon.
Fr. Jerry Hogan and Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart Bernard Overkamp and Dorothy Fabritze did, in a sense, run away to join the circus.
The three are part of Circus and Traveling Show Ministries, and serve an international community of performers that travels throughout the United States.
Operate under bishops’ conference
Under the umbrella of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the CTSM is a subcommittee within the Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugee and Travelers in the Secretariat of Cultural Diversity.
While Fr. Hogan travels more than 60,000 per year in a rented Winnebago or by air to meet his traveling parish, Srs. Bernard and Dorothy travel with the circus by train or by pick-up truck, pulling a trailer outfitted with a simple chapel inside. With the approval of the Vatican, the sisters carry the Eucharist with them at all times.
Their ministry encompasses 30-40 circuses, 300-400 traveling carnivals, the Indy Car racing circuit, the Professional Bull Riders Association, and the horse racing personnel at the Arlington Race Track.
More than 15,000 Catholics are served through the CTSM, a ministry Fr. Hogan has enjoyed for 19 years. He found the acts, the costumes and the life exciting, since his dad took him to his first circus in the 1950s.
If you would like to help:Checks can be made out to
Circus and Traveling Show Ministries
c/o Fr. Jerry Hogan
St. Martha Church
200 N. Orange Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34236
“I began in 1993 after (the former circus priest) Fr. Jack Toner got sick,” said Fr. Hogan, only the fourth priest since the ministry began in 1920 to serve as chaplain. “He knew how much I loved circuses and asked if I could fill in for him. The bishop ended up appointing me to the ministry and I’ve been on ever since; I love every aspect of this ministry.”
While serving as the chaplain of the CTSM could be considered a full-time job, Fr. Hogan also served as co-pastor of St. Michael Parish in North Andover, Mass., until January when he was granted a medical leave of absence by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley. He now lives in Sarasota, Fla., and assists at St. Martha Parish.
When he was balancing both ministries, the 66-year-old priest relied on others for help.
“I usually go out on the road in the middle of the week so I (was at the parish) for weekend Masses,” he said. “But nowadays with computers, Facebook and cell phones, I am in contact with anyone who needs me in the circuses.”
Ministry founded 40 years ago
The role of circus priest began after Fr. Ed Sullivan founded the ministry and served as the traveling parish’s priest for 40 years; the job of circus chaplain has been held by a Roman Catholic priest ever since.
Fr. Hogan explained that circus performers are no different from anyone else in the church, requiring the celebration of Mass and sacraments.
“Circus performers are very spiritual people with tremendous faith, but what they don’t have is a regular parish,” he said. “I am the pastor for any Catholic in any circus in the United States. These people are on the move and as an example, a couple can’t get married in a regular church because they aren’t part of a parish for six months. My role is that I take care of all stuff like that – it is exciting and challenging.”
Is frequent Wisconsin visitor
A frequent visitor to Wisconsin, Fr. Hogan has been involved with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus when it has traveled to the Milwaukee area; he has ridden in the Great Circus Parade; and considers the home of the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, one of the greatest destination spots in the country.
For 12 years, Srs. Bernard and Dorothy traveled with several circuses, but most recently with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey to conduct Bible studies, provide sacramental preparation, work with RCIA candidates, lead lapsed Catholics back to the faith, and help with regular circus operations.
“Sr. Bernard has worked as a cook in the past, providing three meals a day, and more recently as a seamstress and wardrobe,” said Sr. Fabritze. “I have sold tickets, run midway rides, helped to put up tents, pulled the show curtains and we have both picked up our share of trash.”
While not a glamorous lifestyle, they said the circus life and its people have captured their hearts and souls. Comparing their lives to St. Paul, who supported himself as a tent-maker, the sisters are called to continue in the mission field, helping form a Christian community within the circus community.
“The past few years we were swamped with requests for sacramental preparation, such as baptisms, marriages and Bible studies,” said Sr. Fabritze. “It was in the middle of that stress that one of the dancers came to me and said that there were four dancers who needed confirmation, as they had not been confirmed. I rolled my eyes and said ‘bring them on.’”
Unfortunately, the dancers only understood Portuguese, so Sr. Fabritze asked the Brazilian dancer to translate for her while she taught the lessons.
“She told me that she is a catechist in Brazil and would love the chance to use her training in the circus to lead candidates to the church,” said Sr. Fabritze. “I talked with Fr. Hogan and we agreed to give her a chance – she not only brought the four adult women through confirmation, but found another who needed RCIA. I went in the classes to speak now and then and she translated, but she did a wonderful job handling them all.”
From dancer to catechist
Seemingly overnight, the demands on the Brazilian catechist grew until she requested that she serve the circus full time, no longer as a dancer, but as a catechist.
Currently, the CTSM has two catechists who work with religious instruction, but the need and desire for additional catechists is growing so much that the two sisters left Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey for a sabbatical year of preparation and fundraising for their new ministry, Project SPEC: Show People’s Evangelization of Catechists. Sr. Fabritze visited St. Peter Parish in East Troy last summer to appeal for financial help to institute the new ministry.
“I wanted to share our ministry and ideas with St. Peter’s for the future, and to ask for their prayer and financial assistance so we can reach out to more members of this wonderful circus family,” she said. “The money we raise will help us get new catechists trained and started in this ministry, as well as providing funds for Sr. Bernard and me to travel and fundraise.”
SPEC is a program designed to provide Catholic catechetical education to members of the traveling shows industry. The goal is to identify, educate and provide the necessary supports for the present and future generations of Catholic lay catechists in these itinerant communities.
Through the Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation program, an online curriculum from the University of Dayton designed for certification of catechists, pastoral care ministers of CTSM will identify lay leaders within these faith communities willing to become the catechetical educators. In addition, the CTSM ministers provide the candidate with a mentor to ensure there is the emotional, spiritual and educational support to assist the candidates in the completion of the courses.
“We love reaching out to the circus people and I have found a deep faith in these people. Some of them have very scary jobs, such as high wire, lion taming, etc,” said Sr. Fabritze. “For me, faith is the person and family upbringing and one person’s own research to the mystical and beyond — it isn’t particularly with the job, but how you relate to each other and to God. If we can reach more performers and bring them to the church, than we have accomplished our goal.”
Monday, August 13, 2012
Baffled. Nervous. Scared. Uncertain.
Perhaps I am now where God can work within me. Thanks to my friend, Maria for sharing this poem.
The Real Work
It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
~"The Real Work" by Wendell Berry
Sunday, August 12, 2012
I heard a homily yesterday that stirred my heart to the very core. The priest spoke about the precious gift that Jesus bestowed upon us when he offered us Himself--in the Holy Eucharist. How blessed we are to receive all that Jesus has offered to us. When we are approached by others asking us if we have asked to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we can honestly tell them that not only do we have a personal relationship, but we solidify it every single time we receive Him--all of Him in the Eucharist.
I often wonder why other faiths seem to skim over the Gospels where Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist? If they truly believe all that the Bible says, then why ignore the Last Supper, which is repeated nearly verbatim in three of the Gospels?
For he said in Luke 22:17, 19-20 - "Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks
he said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves;...'
Then he took a loaf of bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them,
saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'
And he did the same with the cup after supper,
saying, 'This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.' "
And in Matthew 26:26-28 - "While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread,
and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples,
and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you;
for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.' "
And Mark 14:22-24 - "While they were eating, he (Jesus) took a loaf of bread,
and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them,
and said, 'Take; this is my body.'
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it.
He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.' "
And we are instructed to carry on as in
1 Cor 11:23-26 - "For I (Paul) received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread,
and when he had given thanks, he broke it
and said, 'This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper,
saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
And of course, John speaks of the Bread of Life--Jesus is that Bread of Life or Panis Vitae
John 6:35, 47-58 -
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty...
Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven.
Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
So Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day;
for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.
Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me.
This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died.
But the one who eats this bread will live forever."
How Blessed we are to be Catholic and know that we become what we eat by receiving the Body of Christ in the Eucharist. I would think that if people really knew what they were receiving, that no church could hold all the people wanting to receive Him!
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Murders, estrangement, financial ruin, marital problems, rebellious children, illness, false accusations, religious persecution--all viable reasons for bitterness and faithlessness.
But without faith--what do we have?
How do we face the day when a loved one is seriously ill? When someone dies? When we are emotionally scarred by the very ones we are supposed to trust?
Where is God in the suffering?
For those who have suffered greatly--whether through illness, finances, as consequence for their actions, or through unjustifiable actions from others--how do we go on to meet the new day?
At times, we feel God's presence in every step, every movement, every breath and other times, it is as if we are like parched, cracked earth, straining for a drop of moisture to quench our thirst. The periods of dry, desolation often seem much longer than the lush pastures of His companionship--but are they really?
When difficult periods face us--where is God? Is He there? Is He present in our suffering?
Throughout my own personal desert when I have called out to God as I lay prostrate before the Cross and heard nothing but the echoing of my own sobs, I can honestly say "yes." He is there and quite present before me.
Has the suffering abated? No. In fact, in many ways it has increased. However, I am beginning to notice more of His presence in each tiny, precious moment.
As the piercing sun cracks through the dark of night to reveal a new morning, I feel Him. As the birds begin to rise and chirp their greetings, I know that this same God who feeds them, also cares for me. As my husband brings me a steaming cup of coffee with whipped cream, I know that God is working in Him to demonstrate His love and devotion. As my grandchildren smile when they see my face, I know that I am seeing the face of Jesus within them.
Every kindness. Every drop of rain. Every ray of sunshine. Every morsel of food. Every beam of light radiating between the leaves of the Black Walnut trees in our yard. Every kind gesture and sweet smile from a friend or stranger reminds me that Our Lord has not forgotten us. No, never! As discouraged as I get and as I struggle to understand His purpose for our suffering, I know He is ever present in my daily life.
As more is stripped, the more appreciative I am of what we have. No matter how long He allows the suffering to continue, I know that we will always be rich in Him. As I forgive others for their injustices, I make more room for His light to shine through me.
For I know wealthy people who are so very poor because they do not care to know Him. And I know poor people who are so very wealthy because He resides in their hearts and they know that all is gift.
Who could imaging that suffering could be gift?
Because of my profound selfishness, I think I needed this suffering. Perhaps it was God's rescue upon my soul. For without it, I would not be as rich as I am today--for if He resides within me and guides my life, I know that I will never be poor in spirit.
Perhaps that is the greatest lesson of all.
Sunday, August 5, 2012
Mission to Rosebud
Local Catholic youths return from South Dakota reservation1 2
BY KAREN MAHONEYKENOSHA NEWS CORRESPONDENT
The group spent the week of June 16-23 on the Rosebud Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate Band of the Teton Sioux, on a trip coordinated by the YouthWorks! organization.
Located in the second poorest area of the United States, this community struggles with massive unemployment — about 80 percent. The poverty this creates, as well as other stresses of reservation life, makes family life difficult for many. Gangs, drug and alcohol activity coupled with the highest teenage suicide rate in the country is a difficult environment for Rosebud youth to thrive.
The group spent time painting murals in St. Francis Hall, a room frequently used to hold teen funerals, said Corinne Dillon, adult leader and religious education director at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, St. Therese, St. Elizabeth and Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parishes. This was Dillon’s 18th YouthWorks! mission trip and fourth trip to Rosebud.
“Painting the murals was one way to add pride back to the community, as the residents are so very sad,” she said. “We also had a work crew go to the women’s center to plant a garden, and the teens worked to plan and host a Kids Club, which is similar to a Vacation Bible School for kids from ages 4 through 11.”
For St. Mary parishioner Camron Johnson, 16, the trip was his first mission experience and one that left him with the desire to do more for others.
“It was nice to step back, slow down and think about others and help them,” he said. “My favorite part happened when we were painting the murals. There was a kid named Shane, who was one of the Lakota Indians; he gave us directions on what pictures to paint where, and the meanings behind all of the colors and pictures. We learned why certain things had sentimental meaning to them, and that everything has a purpose to them. It was interesting to see how laid back it is there, to learn about their beliefs and see how differently they live.”
While Elizabeth Ann Dillon (no relation to Corinne), Youth Ministry director at St. Mary parish, had gone on mission trips when in high school, this was her first as a Youth Ministry leader in Kenosha. Despite the disturbing teen suicide statistics, she was impressed by the way the young missionaries rallied together to help.
“It was really spectacular watching the teens stretch themselves and grow as they learned to get along with each other, bond and address the issues in the Rosebud Community,” she said. “The high suicide rate was disheartening for the students, but the more they learned about the issues that teens face on the reservation, they were certainly empathizing to their situation. The students seemed to come back with a greater appreciation of their own life and the struggles in our own community.”
What surprised 17-year-old Grace Reyes, a member of St. Elizabeth parish, the most was the openness and welcoming feeling of the Rosebud community.
“They were so nice and so grateful for us coming there to help,” said Reyes. “I really enjoyed helping with the painting, crafts and activities, but I especially enjoyed helping the youth get ready for their annual four-day tribal celebration where they travel on horseback to retrace their ancestors.”
The mission experience sparked an interest in the youth to find new methods to give back to the Kenosha community, as well as foster a greater appreciation of their Catholic faith.
“We really brainstormed about ways we can help others here in the Kenosha area,” Reyes said. “It made me think more about people other than me, my family and my friends. I was able to get closer to my faith, too.
“I wasn’t good at openly expressing my faith before, but the group worship activities helped me to connect with other Catholics and I feel a greater connectedness than before.”
Thursday, August 2, 2012
Through the blogger reviews program, I was asked to test a Proctor and Gamble product and share if we liked it or not. I chose the Downy Unstopables in Wash Fresh Scent Booster.
Looking at those little purple granules, I wondered if they would be effective by just tossing them in with my regular detergant. After all, I am a Down Fabric Softener diehard and getting this old dog to try a new trick is not an easy task.....but I was willing to give it a shot.
So, I though the little pellets in with my smelliest load of laundry (sorry for the visual) and got that washing machine churning away. I did not expect much.
After the cycle was finished, the wet laundry smelled amazing--but, would it hold up after a run through the dryer? And the bigger question--would the scent hold up days later?
Once the load was removed from the dryer, the scent remained--even the dryer smelled nice! But better yet, the clothes were soft, not overpowering with scent, and actually, I liked the fragrance better than my regular Downy! Wow! Never thought I would admit to that!
Anyway, I wasn't done--I left a few items in dresser drawers for a week and when I came back to check with my self-proclaimed Bloodhound nose test--I was pleasantly surprised to find that the clothes smelled just as fresh and were just as soft as they were when I first removed them from the dryer.
Well, this little testimony leads to my reason for posting this on my blog today. Proctor and Gamble has opened up an eCommerce Store and anyone ordering from this link during August will be able to get a 10% discount on all P & G products, plus free shipping for orders over $25! Woohoo--I would say this is a pretty darn good deal!
By the way:
There are a LOT of great Olympic-themed bundles and deals right now as P & G is a big Olympic sponsor.
But in order to get these great deals you need to purchase through the link at the end of this blog. If you want to share these great deals with your family and friends, send them here and they can reap the rewards too!
1Just a note, I get a small commission for anything ordered from this link, so if you are curious about Downy Unstopables or like P & G products and want to get a great deal with free shipping, click on the link below and you can help us both out!
If you like, leave a comment on this blog and tell me what your favorite P & G product is, and let me know if you are going to take advantage of the awesome deals this month!
So, here you go--check out the link below, and maybe you will find something you wish to order!
Thanks for reading!
Downy Unstopables In Wash Fresh Scent Booster