Sunday, January 25, 2009

Breaking News

Below you will find a copy of the article I wrote for Friday's Union Leader. I am told it ran on the front page. Since I can't get the hyperlink feature to work, I will cut and paste in below. Nice work to all those who went on the March!

NH youths in March for Life
Special to the Union Leader
Friday, Jan. 23, 2009

WASHINGTON – Fewer than 24 hours after the close of the final inaugural ball, Washington D.C. is once again abuzz with activity.

As the masses of humanity that witnessed the historic swearing in of America's first African-American President make their way home, another wave is just arriving.

They too come from every corner of the nation, are filled with an incredible sense of optimism and are emboldened by the audacity of hope. They invoke the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and are well-versed in the language of justice and equality for all.

The new wave arriving in the nation's capitol and filling its churches, gymnasiums, and streets, is young, energized, and passionate about defending the dignity of human life on the 36th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.

- - - -

As the grand organ of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception boomed on Wednesday night, more than 16,000 people -- most of them under the age of 30 -- rose to their feet.

Pilgrims jostled for position as they occupied nearly every square inch of the Basilica. Nearly 1,000 priests and seminarians made their way forward in the opening procession of the National Vigil for Life Mass.

Among them was Manchester native Sara Boutin, a freshman attending with friends from Saint Joseph's College in Maine. Exhausted from a 12-hour drive, Sara sat slumped in her seat, which she arrived three hours early to secure. The best she could do was 10 rows from the back.

Taking part in a growing trend of youth activism, Sara and her friends spent the morning meeting with the Maine congressional delegation and even secured a meeting with Maine Sen. Susan Collins to discuss their opposition to the introduction of the Freedom of Choice Act.

The Freedom of Choice Act, which was the subject of much focus at the Vigil for Life Mass, would, undo any restrictions on abortion nationwide.

"We will need the help of all Catholic and pro-life organizations, as well as the participation of other Christian churches and all people of good will, in order to get the message to Congress that human life is sacred and must be protected," according to Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali.

Sara, for her part was pleased that Sen. Collins interrupted a busy morning for an unscheduled visit and hopes that she will decide to oppose the act should it be introduced.

- - - -

One of the busiest people at Vigil for Life Mass is Sister Miriam MacLean R.S.M. of Hudson, who serves as the Shrine's director of visitor services.

Sister Miriam oversees a massive organization of volunteers and coordinates logistics for 600 overnight guests who camp out in the basement of the Basilica.

Although this reporter spotted Sister Miriam in action, any hope of a sit-down interview was lost when the first busloads arrived.

- - - -

Partway through the 35-minute opening procession -- a virtual who's who of the American Catholic church-- six young seminarians from the Granite State filled with an "overwhelming sense of awe at the witness of the people and the reverence of their prayer" could be seen.

Jeff Paveglio, a 23-year-old seminarian and graduate of the University of New Hampshire described the evening's Mass "as a profoundly solemn occasion where the faithful are united in prayer for the cause of life."

His exuberance and that of the other seminarians was palpable as they eagerly prepared to serve in the evening's Mass. When asked if his mother would be watching for him on television as he took part in the opening procession, he laughed and responded: "Watching it? She will be taping it."

- - - -

Wednesday's Vigil is held each year in conjunction with the March for Life, which marks its 36th year standing in opposition to the Supreme Court's controversial Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Wednesday evening's enormous crowd seemed dwarfed when placed against the estimated 150,000 who took part in the March for Life yesterday.

Among them were six busloads of Granite Staters who made the long journey to take part in the national movement.

Greg Denis, 16, from Manchester, joined more than 120 of his friends and classmates from Trinity High School at the March.

He made the journey for much different reason than most. Sixteen years ago, Greg was placed up for adoption. Greg is marching to thank his birth mother for choosing life. He declared with a smile, "if I ever meet her, the first thing I will do is thank her for having me."

Greg admitted that this issue hits close to home, especially considering "my mom likely was in a bad situation and considered abortion as an option."

- - - -

Poignantly noting "the legalization of abortion almost cost me my life before it ever began," Liz, a 19-year-old from New Hampshire, knows all too well what it means to be in a difficult situation, scared and afraid of what to do.

She shared her story of how she became pregnant as a high school student last year.

"Suddenly, I felt as if I was alone in the world and that all my hopes and dreams came crashing down. I was scared. I did not know who to turn to. It was not until I was at the clinic scheduling my abortion that I knew what I needed to do. I started to get sick and realized I could not do it; I could not destroy my own child. I left the clinic, went home and waited a week before summoning the courage to tell my mom. When I did, I could no longer fight back tears. My mom responded with a loving embrace and open arms."

Liz fought back tears as she shared a picture of her beautiful daughter. "I just want other girls to know that within them is a great treasure and a beautiful life. I want them to know it is okay to be scared and to ask for help."

Liz shared how her life is different now, how her plans have changed, and how "listening to her heart saved not only her daughter's life, but her own."

As my interview with Liz ended, with sincerest conviction she said, "We will march until the world realizes that the greatest gift we have is not found in our bank accounts but in our human dignity."

Andrew Nelson is a Diocese of Manchester seminarian attending St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. He served as Trinity High's campus minister. He has reported for the New Hampshire Union Leader on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to America and Pope John Paul II's funeral in Rome.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

March for Life 2009

Just back from two days of March for Life activities and little sleep. So tonight I will post pictures and leave the words until tomorrow.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Television Here I Come!

This Wednesday evening I will be appearing on national television as an altar server at the National Vigil for Life Mass at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. This annual Mass on the eve of the March for Life is attended by over ten thousand people and televised around the world thanks to EWTN. I will be prominently featured so stay glued to your tv's and get ready for my latest national media appearance (long live Sharkman).

Now one might ask, how many servers will be there? I would say don't ask silly questions.

One might also ask what do you mean by prominently featured? Details, details

I will be one of hundreds of seminarians in the opening and closing procession on Wednesday night. I was chosen (cough, cough). Now, now it is not like they welcome any seminarians who want to participate and show up or anything. But none-the-less if you watch your televisions Wednesday night, squint real hard you might just see me.

One thing for sure is I am sure my mother will see me on television. She always thinks she sees me on tv, in the newspaper, etc... In June she thought she saw me in the Union Leader, the only problem was when I looked in the paper to check "I" was an overweight woman. Hopefully when you look at television Wednesday night you will see me, or if you don't, atleast mistake me for a professional model.

Special Guests

I am enjoying a wonderful three day weekend at the seminary. I am not sure exactly what I have done all weekend, but sleeping in this morning was great! Saturday afternoon I was lucky to enjoy a wonderful lunch with one my greatest former students and his family. Harrison Williams was on his way to Washington, D.C. for a national leadership conference and was able to meet for lunch. It was great to see him and his family and to catch up. The leadership conference he was on his way to sounded amazing with speakers like Archbishop Desmond Tetu and top political leaders. I must say they never had conferences like that when I was a kid.

Needless to say it was great to catch up with people from the homefront and to have visitors.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Snow Emergency

This morning began like any other, my alarm rang at exactly 7:00am and I was filled with anger at its sound. After angrily hinting snooze three times I knew I needed to get up. After a quick shower, brushing my teeth and getting dressed I combed my hair (just kidding- that will be the day when I comb my hair). I actually I turned on the local news to see the scrolling list of delayed openings and cancellations due to snow. To my shock and amusement when I opened my window shade there was a quarter of an inch of snow on the ground. The anchors were also complaining about a massive of cold front in Baltimore bringing the temperatures into the low twenties. It is amazing at what difference a few hundred miles makes in perspective. Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Tomorrow marks the official ending of the first week of classes and the start of a three day weekend :):):). So far I am optimistic about the semester and what seems to be a more interesting and promising semester. I look forward to sharing details with you all. Due to a internet server malfunction the entire seminary is offline for a few days, leaving me to spend the evening at Panera. I would post more but there is a really scary looking man sitting across from me and he is beginning to freak me out. He keeps looking at me with a wild look in his eyes and I would not be at all surprised if he has escaped from a secure facility. Time to head out of here and back to the quiet and safety of the seminary

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

My First Report Card

I arrived back at this weekend to discover my first report card. Overall I was very pleased with how things turned out, especially considering the hectic end to the semester and my early departure. My goal is to have 4 A's and 2 B+'s this semester.

Communication for Pastors - A
Prayer/Priesthood- A
Introduction to Catholic Theology- A-
History of Philosophy- B+
Philosophy of Nature- B+
Epistemology- B

Tomorrow is a day of recollection, which simply means- prayer, retreat talks, and silence. Then at after evening prayer we have a big reception and a fancy dinner. I will let you know how it goes. Until then ...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Last Minute Journey

Greetings All!

After a long break I am back to the blog. Unfortunately I was away from real computer availability for two weeks, hence the lull in postings. It was a real challenge to be disconnected from the world of technology. I am just back in the seminary now, as classes start tomorrow. I will use the next few days to catch you up on postings including (public speaking 101 at St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, the Long drive Back, Better Late then Never, A New and Improved Room, and the Great Chair Arrival. (also I have not forgotten a few of your emails, please be patient as I catch up!)

- Mr. Nelson

December 30th, 2008

11:00pm I begin to ponder what to do with my free Southwest Airline ticket to
anywhere in the country

11:15pm Realize it expires in two weeks

11:20pm I discover I have no commitments for the next two days

11:25pm Consider all my options

11:30pm Remember that I have friends attending a New Year's eve wedding in Florida

11:35pm Decide I will fly standby the next morning and see if I can enjoy a crazy

11:45pm Frantically pack my bags, while on the telephone reserving a rental car

December 31st

8:00am Wake up

8:15am Still in bed

8:25am Panic realizing I need to get moving or I will miss my flight

8:32am Loading up the car

8:33am Snow on my car, was it supposed to snow?

8:34am Wow, there is a lot of snow!

8:35am I am stuck, look at my wheels spinning in place

8:40am I am cold, wet and moving down the road toward the airport at 5 miles per

8:55am Quick stop at the post office, to mail a very important package to a dear
friend's family

9:10am Arrive at the airport, no time for the economy parking...when did the
garage cost $17.00 per day!

9:11am BITTERLY COLD OUT! Very Windy

9:20am Checked in for the flight (Southwest rocks!)

9:45am I am randomly chosen to have all my things searched, and to receive a "pat

10:30am Seated and relaxing on the plane (note: I am the world's biggest southwest fan, but the one thing I hate is the open seating. If you are late to check in, like I always am, and are last to board, everyone is passive aggressive and does not want you to sit next to them. People always "fill" the middle seat with their things and refuse to make eye contact with you. No matter where you sit someone will hate you for hours, because you "ruined" their flight.)

4:00pm After a stop in Baltimore (ironic I know) I am off the plane in warm, sunny Florida!

4:05pm It is 75 degrees

4:10pm Why do we live in NH again?

4:15pm Summer is nice, but so is Winter, IN FLORIDA!

4:20pm Use free wifi to priceline a hotel (good thing there was room or I am not
sure what I would have done)

4:45pm Arrive at Rental Car Center to pick up my two door glorified golf cart, or
should I say "economy car"

4:56pm Inquire if there are any good upgrades available

4:57pm They say, "why yes, for ten dollars more you can have a brand new ford mustang convertible in red or grey"

4:57:01pm "Red Please"

5:00pm Top Down, 75 degrees, Radio Blaring, Sun Glasses on!

5:45pm Arrive at the Hotel, my lucky streak continues, Brand New, Sweet Room,
Views of the Water ($50)

6:30pm Meet friends for dinner

8:00pm Relaxing at the hotel overlooking the water (friends have gone to the
wedding- it was a non ND wedding so I could not really be a wedding

12:00am Observe a family tradition (originating from our one Swedish ancestor) of
eating Herring at the strike of midnight

12:00:01am Wish I was adopted, or at least born to a nice Belgian family who eats
chocolates instead

January, 1st

7:30am Driving along the Beach!

8:30am Breakfast with friends, followed by a beautiful walk on the beach,
chilling and just taking in what NH does not have, warmth!

10:30am Send texts to people back home, touting the beautiful weather and

10:31am Some unChristlike responses are sent to me in reply

12:00pm Lunch on the beach

2:00pm Drop friends at the airport

2:10pm More driving and warmth

5:00pm Back at the airport

9:30pm touchdown


9:41pm Wish I signed up to be a seminarian for the diocese of Miami or Honolulu,


Important Blog News:

Please note this blog will begin being regularly updated after August 21st (when I arrive in Baltimore).