Monday, October 1, 2012

The Seminary this Year!

Time Off...

As you can tell I took some time off from this old blog. After an incredibly busy summer, and a quick start to the school year I have had little time to breathe. As worked pilled up I took a little time away from writing here to my great disappointment. Catching up to speed: This Summer: I was assigned to Berlin, NH in the great North Woods. I loved my time in the North Country and the people were fantastic. I was truly blessed to meet so many incredible people and to learn from them. One of the greatest joys of the Summer was being able to celebrate the Feast of St. Anne with the entire diocese at St. Anne Church in Berlin. All summer long one of my main tasks was to help organize a diocesan pilgrimage to Berlin at the end of July. This task was challenging for several reasons: 1. It had never been done before 2. We had no budget to work with 3. Berlin is North, way North in NH (almost 3 hours from Manchester) 4. We did not have much time and wanted to get it right 5. Our diocese has not done large scale pilgrimages in the past 6. The pilgrimage was to occur on a Thursday during the middle of the day 7. Berlin is a small town, accommodating large numbers of people is a challenge However, with a lot of help from the big guy upstairs, and the incredible people of the community we were able to pull it off in a grand fashion. When all was done and thru we had over 1,300 people descend on Berlin over two days. Together we prayed, we laughed and we celebrate the Feast of St. Anne. Below are a few pictures from the activities. (cancel that blogspot won't allow me to upload). I will have to work on this and get back)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mustard Seed Homily from Last Month

In this morning’s Gospel we heard the all too familiar parable of the Mustard Seed. The beautiful story of how the smallest of seeds produces the greatest of trees. The story of the transforming power of God, whose abundant grace and love can work in our lives when the seeds of faith are sown and allowed to grow. We are told these seeds are like the Kingdom of God which if planted grows, but not by means that we understand but rather by the power and mystery of God. The seeds of faith have been planted in all of our lives by, our loving parents and relatives, by dedicated catechists and religious educators, by religious men and women. The seeds of faith are planted in our life by the very Word of God which we hear each time we gather to pray. The Kingdom of God, Jesus says, is like the smallest of seeds on earth, but when it is sown it springs up and becomes the largest of trees. Jesus reminds us that we are not the sowers of the kingdom, but rather God is. And that his work, begun in us, with the help of others, does not suddenly appear in all its glory, but rather slowly transforms before our very eyes, like the plant that grows each day. We are the seeds, small and lowly, present in all of our weakness and humbled by the greatness of God’s magnificent creation which surrounds us. However, with his love and presence we too can become transformed, I reminded of a story about this Church, and the people of the parish. As I look around this evening I cannot help but to be overwhelmed by the magnificance of this great building dedicated to almighty God. I look up to the thousands of angels which adorn the ceiling, the beautiful carvings of the Gospel writers, and the incredible detail given to the sanctuary. All of this built as an offering to God and a living testament to his power and glory, all of this built by men and women of this community and proudly serving as a beacon of hope. But there is another beautiful offering in this Church, quietly hidden away, and unobserved by most. It is buried two layers beneath the floor of the tabernacle, which holds the most precious gift of all, the body and blood of Christ,hidden below this, below the ciborum holding the Eucharist, below the satin covered floor, one finds a simple envelope, an envelope which has been in this very Church for over one hundred years, and an evelope which is to remain here perpetually. The envelope contains hundreds of names, names you will recognize like Poulin, Larochelle, Lepage, Rheume, Doyon, Roy, Lambert, Bilodeau, Anctil and Arsenault. They are not the names of business leaders or wealthy donors, they are the names of hundreds of school children who once lived on these streets, and in these hills. They are the names of young men and women whose faith steadfastly guided their lives. For some, they are names of your parents, for most your grandparents and great grandparents. They are the names of the children from this city and from the surrounding towns, who with the help and inspiration of the sisters that served this parish, saved their pennies and nickels faithfully. Not to build this magnificant Church, but rather, to build that beautiful tabernacle which holds Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. The children of this community, in faith, pooled all they had in order to collect the $1,000 necessary to purchase the tabernacle which we see each time we are in this place. They had little, yet they gave all they had. Today we look to the beauty of that tabernacle and this letter with its eight hundred names and remember what they did. However, the remarkable and transformative nature of the gift of the young people over one hundred years ago, is not found in the beauty of that tabernacle and its beautiful door, rather it is found all around us in the faces of their children and their children’s children who have filled the Churches of this community and fill this Holy place today, the beauty of their gift of faith is found in all of you, their descendaents, who come each day and week to this place, and enliven this parish and community with the very love of God. During the sumer one Hundred and three years ago the children of this community reached their goal, they collected all the pennies and nickels they needed, and they gave something beautiful to God to this place. One Hundred and Three Years later, here we gather on this night in prayer. One hundred and three years later we too have been asked to give something beautiful to God, and to this place. This time that invitation is from our Bishop and he has asked us to be children again, to give of ourselves and return to a moment of faith filled wonder, he has not asked us to give our money, but rather the pennies and nickels of faith which take the form of our prayers, our hospitality and our gifts of time, in order to unite as one people of faith, and to prepare to welcome the pilgrims who will come from across the state on the great Feast of St. Anne, memre of Jesus. The Bishop has chosen to make this holy place, a place of pilgrimage on July 26th, because the Tabernacle of Faith which is this community, has given so much to the Church over the years in her sons and daughters who have come from St. Anne, St. Keirans, Guardian Angel, St. Joseph, St. Benedict, and Holy Family and today from the parishes that form Good Shepherd and Holy Family. Here deep in the heart of mountains, in this city, in Gorham and the surrounding towns, in a part of the state often forgotten by others because of our small size, the seeds of faith have been planted and continue to grow into the largest of trees. Pray for this endeavor, that as people of faith we may be as united and resolved as the young men and women who filled these pews one hundred years ago, and that our gifts of time, of hospitality, and of presence on the Feast of St. Anne may be as beautiful as that gift (point). My friends, Bishop Libasci has made this community a priority, he has recognized the beauty of what you have given and shared with the Church, as well the hardships that have been endured. He has asked us, and the people of this diocese to gather and to pray together next month, to pray for our Church and for all those who are being called to serve it and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for this community. The boys and girls whose names appear on this list , are forever remembered for their generosity in the tabernacle of this Church. In the days and weeks ahead I will ask that you to consider adding your names to a new list, a list of men and women, young and old alike, who joined together in order to unite a community, and a Church, on the great feast of St. Anne. A list of men and women who gave from their hearts, offering prayers, hospitality and presence. becoming like children again and allowing God to transform the smallest of seeds into the greatest of trees. In the meantime your prayers for this undertaking are asked, for they are the greatest of offerings we can give to God, they are our pennies and nickels of faith. Like the mustard, no matter how small and humble, may we allow ourselves to be transformed by the power and grace of God into something wonderful for God and for His Kingdom.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

My First Homily, Pentecost!

In this morning’s Gospel we heard the powerful story of how Jesus appeared to the disciples, in a locked room, showing his wounds, greeting them in peace, and Sending them forth filled with the Holy Spirit. On this day the Church celebrates the feast of Pentecost, that moment the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit. We celebrate that moment when the people of God, and the Church, received not only life in Christ, but also life in the Spirit. I think for so many of us it is all to easy to think of the Holy Spirit in only the most abstract of terms. Jesus we can easily imagine because of his humanity, because of how he lived and how he died. But look around, where is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not prominent in these windows, nor on the walls. One thing they don’t tell you in seminary is to always check the Church the night before a big homily to see if large numbers of banners depicting the holy spirit have been added to the Church since you last where there. But even the lone depiction of the Holy Spirit by the Baptismal font, (shrug sholuders) and the banners there, there, there............ the Holy Spirit is something that takes no visible form. I am reminded of that great story of the Grandfather and the grandson who sit in cabin during a winter morning’s storm. The grandfather prepares to go outside when his curious young grandson asks “Grandpa, why do you bundle yourself up like you do” and the grandfather replies “why because of the wind of course.” to which the young child, filled with curoisity responds, “grandpa how do you know that the wind exists?” To which he replied, come to the window and see, there it is But the child did not see it The grandfather said, “look carefully and you will see it” The child looked, and looked and looked but saw nothing. His eyes and ears could observe no evidence. But the grandfather spoke again saying “look to the trees and see how they swing wildly, look to the snow and see how it dances. All that happens because of the wind, the wind moves the great trees and the snow that falls. But the child continued, how do you know the tree does not sway on its own, or the snow dance The grandfather continued, son I know the wind is there because I watch those trees and I see it has an effect on them. I can see when the wind moves the trees and when it does not. but I also know the wind is there because when I step away from the window, when i step outside these doors to find it, I feel it on my face. When I listen carefully I hear its voice singing in the night. If you never leave the comforts of this cabin you will never understand the wind. You will always look out wondering. But if you do leave, if you do seek it out, it will find you. You will never see it, it will never announce its arrival, but it will find you and it will make its presence known. If you watch carefully you can see how it is gently at work all around. You will see how indeed it makes the tree dance and the clouds drift by. It will sing softly to your heart. That story speaks so beautifully to the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, the invisible force that makes all things known, and the Spirit we celebrate in the Church today. But the story of the wind, is just that, a story. 
What is not a story, what is real, is how the Holy Spirit works in us gathered here today. How the Holy Spirit lives and breathes in this Church, in the Church, and in people of faith. In the current cultural climate of our day it is easy to be blinded to the Spirit’s presence, it is easy to forget how it is at work in our lives, in the Church and in the world. I say with great passion and conviction that I am standing here this morning because I encountered the living God, the Holy Spirit, at work in the lives of the young men and women I taught at Trinity High School, the young people of this parish, and the many parishoners, friends and families, including my own, who are so much a part of my life. But at the end we must remember that seeing the wind from a window in the cabin, is much different than encountering the Holy Spirit in our own lives. The most important example and witness of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives must be within each of us. The Holy Spirit dwells in each of us at Baptism. We invite the Holy Spirit into our lives in a deeper way at Confirmation. The Spirit is in us. The Living God enters into each of us in a real way. God sent his only Son into the world so that we might believe, so that we would be saved. But God sent the Spirit into our lives so we could come to know and understand Jesus Christ more fully. At Pentecost the Church is born, guided and ever living because of the Spirit. At Pentecost, at our Baptism and Confirmation, at this Mass, and in our souls, the Spirit is present because God seeks us. He sends His Spirit to each of us, like He sent his son to the world. The Holy Spirit may not be in these windows, or permanently on these walls, but the Holy Spirit is right beside each of us, the Holy Spirit dwells in all of us who share in Baptism. On this Pentecost may we never forget that not only did God so love the world that he sent his only son, God so loved each and every one of us, that he sent his spirit to dwell in each of us, so that we might know Him. On this Pentecost may we be not only temples of the Holy Spirit, but may we also throw open the doors of hearts so that the Spirit within each of us will invite others to experience a profound encounter with the Living God, with the Holy Spirit, who Burns in our hearts, dwells in our beings, and seeks shine forth form within with a radiance and beauty far brighter than the very windows in this Church.

The First of the Ordination Posts.... More to Follow

The Cathedral Altar before the beginning of Mass
Seminarian David Harris (L) and Father Jason Jalbert review before the ordination begins
Seminarian and Trinity High School Graduate Michael Sartori lights the candles
Bishop Christian (Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Manchester) awaits the start of Mass. Bishop Christian just had hip replacement surgery and is close to earning the record for the quickest recorded recovery.
The Ordination Mass begins as the choir and musicians open with a rousing anthem. Trinity Pioneers will notice Mr. Jeff Gratiano with an aisle seat! Jeff was a huge help this entire weekend. He dropped everything to help move tons of tables from Trinity to Ste. Marie's. Thanks Jeff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seminarian Ryan Brady sings his way up the aisle. Ryan Brady is the super seminarian as he seems to master every job given.
My classmates from the Seminary in Baltimore. Brian Lewis diocese of Wilmington (far left), Jason Hage diocese of Syracuse (center) and Tyler Bandura diocese of Greensburg (right- & no I have no idea where Greensburg is either). It was a great joy to have the guys visiting to share in the special day.
Diocese of Greensburg Seminarian Eric Dinga. Greensburg is in central Pennsylvania
Deacon Alan Tremblay processes in with the Book of the Gospels. Alan will be ordained a priest this Saturday. He is from Ste. Marie Parish and has been a good friend throughout my entire time in the Seminary. It has been neat to be from the same parish as him and to be one year behind him.
Three incredible friends and mentors, Msgr. Quinn from St. Elizabeth Seton in Bedford (Left), Fr. Richard Kelley from St. Christopher's in Nashua (Center) and Fr. Don Clinton from Ste. Marie's (Right).
Deacon Charles Pawlowski and Bishop Libasci
Bishop Libasci deep in prayer
My Parents!
A Neat photo as Seminarian Mike Zgonc holds the book and my mentor and teacher Fr. Leo Gajardo (center) looks on.
My former student David Gagnon proclaims the first reading.
Mother Mark Lewis Randall, O'Carm, a good family friend, proclaims the second reading. Mother Mark is the Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of the Aged and Infirm. The Sisters are headquartered in Germantown, NY and work with the elderly. The order has homes across the United States and Ireland.
I am called before the Bishop during the Ordination
Fr. John Sledziona is asked to attest as to whether I am deemed worthy to be ordained a deacon. (Fr. Sledziona said yes)
(from left to right) Fr. Leo Gajardo (from the Seminary), Fr. Mark Dollard (the pastor at my summer assignment in Berlin), Fr. Paul Boudreau St. Joseph parish Belmont, Fr. Gary Belliveau pastor in Portsmouth, Fr. Paul Gousse from Holy Rosary in Rochester (my parents' parish)
I lay down on the sanctuary floor as a sign of surrender as the Cathedral choir and congregation sign the litany of saints. The litany is ancient prayer which invokes the prayer and history of the Church through her saints in history
The bishop ordains me a deacon through the laying on of hands
Fr. Cecil Donahue, OSB from Saint Anselm Abbey
Fr. Cecil and I have been close friends for the past 16 years and the moment he vested me (dressed me) as a deacon was one of the most beautiful part of the entire day. When someone becomes a deacon they are able to choose one other deacon or priest who will be given the honor of vesting them for the first time as a ordained deacon. I won't lie I filled with tears when Fr. Cecil came out and shared in this moment. Fr. Cecil has been not a spiritual mentor to me, and a good friend, he has also been like a grandfather to me.
Fr. Cecil and I embrace
I kneel before the Bishop to receive the book of the Gospels
Bishop Libasci and I embrace
Once when becomes a deacon a very touching moment is when other deacons come forward for a fraternal sign of peace. The other deacons each embrace me as a sign of welcome into the holy order of deacon. It was especially meaningful to be first welcomed by good friends Deacon Charlie and Deacon Alan who I have studied with and lived with for the past four years!
I prepare the altar for the first time as a deacon
My parents bring up the gifts
The elevation
Deacon Alan, Myself, Bishop Libasci and Deacon Charles all reverence the Altar at the end of Mass. As a new deacon this is the first time I have ever reverenced the Altar!
Some nice group photos
Former Trinity Students Eric Desjardins and Nick Richards! Nick and Eric are great friends and amazing people. Many, many, many Thanks to Nick's dad, Michael Richards, for all of these amazing photos!!!!!!!!

Ordination Pictures Coming within the Hour!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Election and A Reflection

Last week the Seminary held its annual Student Government Elections. Unlike most other places active campaigning is not allowed. Seminarians must be asked to run and accept a nomination in order to be in the race. After a week of nominations and voting I was elected to be the House President next year. My first act as President will be posting this picture
of Deacon Charles Pawlowski on my blog and waiting to see how long it takes him to figure out I did so. My second act will be to share the following reflection which I offered at Evening Prayer this evening: The great American Poet Emma Lazarus famously declared when speaking of the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor: Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. She was speaking of the waves of immigrants that flooded the shores of America one hundred and sixty years ago, looking around the chapel this night, just weeks before the end of the year, I can’t help but wonder if she could also be speaking of seminarians. However, truth be told looking around this chapel tonight I see something else , I see the faces of my brothers, and the stories they tell, the journey’s they have been on, each of them incredibly different, incredibly beautiful, and precious in the eyes of God. I see the new men, our brothers who have finished their first year in formation and I am edified by the courageous witness of their faith, and the quiet and faithful patience they have shown in following Christ, and in sacrificing so very much to be here with us all. I see the deacons preparing for ordination, and completing a journey of many years, a journey as varied as the men that make up that class and a journey which begins anew in a matter of weeks. I see the great many of us who are somewhere in between. Journeying in faith and in prayer beside one another, and seeking to discover, answer and follow the call of God, which was so beautifully placed in our hearts so many years ago. In this evening’s reading Peter reminds us that Christ is the Living Stone, rejected by men, and precious to God. How the world responded to Jesus, who they understood him to be, mattered not for it was in God’s eyes that he was precious. All of us gathered here tonight must remember too, that it is in God that we find not only are precious worth, but also our call. God has called us all to be here, and that is a beautiful. He has called some from within deep lives of faith, while others from the depths of conversion , he has called some from far away lands, and others from not that far at all . Whatever the case may be, that call is real, it is precious in the eyes of God, and it is worthy of our awe and respect. For Christ who is the living stone, calls each of us to be living stones, stones which are quarried in faith, hewn in surrender, and shaped by the loving hands of God. With each living stone God builds his church. With each of us here, with all of the stories of our lives deeply imprinted in our hearts, he builds His Church one living stone at at time. Stone upon stone he builds, with all of us, in our beautiful grace and in our deformity. We too are His living stones, we are called to be an edifice of the Spirit, and to be holy priests of God. As we accept the beauty and mystery of his call in our lives, may we have the courage to do the same in accepting His call in the lives of others, in the lives of those seated around us, for it is together that all of us stone by stone will continue to raise up the Church on the foundation that is Christ. One hundred and sixty years ago the tired, huddled masses built up the Church in this country, so too may these tired masses, yearning to breathe free, build up the Church once again.

Odds & Ends

I enjoyed a wonderful time home for Easter and was most grateful to share it with the Ste. Marie Parish Community. It was wonderful to see the many people who have been praying for me and supporting me over the years. It was also good to get home and see my family, put my feet up and sleep in a few days.
I found this picture from Bishop Libasci's visit to the Seminary in the Spring. The Bishop flew down to spend the day with us and offer his support. It was a nice treat and a great boost of moral.
I wanted to ask for your continued prayers for 17 year old Charlie Hunt. Charlie is from Ste. Marie parish and is battling cancer. On Good Friday Charlie played Jesus in the passion play and brought new meaning to this powerful experience. Charlie is an amazing young man whose faith has moved many hearts. Please keep praying!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Chrism Mass

Chrism Mass 2012

Father Jason Jalbert (center) gives instructions as the Seminarians look on. Michael Coughlin looks official (left) and Michael Zgonc prepares to ask a question (right)

Before the big Mass Mike Zgonc (right) and I wait for instructions

One of the kindest priests in the diocese, Father Richard Kelley (St. Christopher, Nashua) processes in at the start of Mass.

Bishop Libasci preaches a stirring homily reflecting on the institution of the priesthood and the service of the priests of the diocese of Manchester

The Bishop receives the offertory gifts from my college Spanish professor, Rene Turner, and her beautiful family

Seminarian Michael Coughlin has the unnerving job of carrying one of the giant glass jars of chrism oil. Legend has it that many years ago one of the priests carried the jar into the sacristy and accidentally dropped causing mass chaos as gallons and gallons of oil made the floor a slip-n-side

Deacon Charles Pawlowski, who will be ordained a priest at the Cathedral on June 2nd at 10:00am, incenses the congregation. I am told that the best way to learn how to learn to incense is with a book under your arm that way you do not move too much when swinging the thurible.

The Bishop celebrates Mass, accompanied by the priests of the diocese and deacons Charles and Alan (also to be ordained on June 2nd)

I assist during the distribution of oils to each of the parishes and Catholic institutions in the diocese. Note the camera lens which seems to be protruding from my neck, it is actually belongs to my college roommate Matthew Lomano who is hidden behind me taking pictures for Parable magazine.

The oils distributed during the Chrism Mass are used in parishes for Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the sick.

Seminarian David Harris leads the procession at the end of Mass. Poor David was fighting a cold Tuesday night! David entered the seminary this past fall and is studying at St. John's in Boston

Trinity High School graduate Michael Sartori demonstrates how an expert swings the thurible (the container that holds the incense). Michael has mastered the use of thurible. It sounds funny, but when you are an altar server for a lot of Masses it is a big deal. The hardest part is to swing the thurible without moving your arm.

Note: Mega Thanks go out to Michael Richards of St. Christopher Parish in Nashua for allowing me to post his wonderful pictures! Thanks Michael!!!!!!!!

Important Blog News:

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