Thank you, fathers

chet

Two of the men who had the most influence on my life were part of what many call “The Greatest Generation.”

The attack on Pearl Harbor changed their live in ways most people today can barely imagine.  Shortly after the events of 75 years ago, Chet Fair enlisted in the Navy.  John Esposito enlisted in the Marines.

Chet put a promising career on hold, not knowing when (or if) he would return.  In John’s case, well, I have a feeling he might have stretched his age a little to join the mission. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fifteen Sisters

community

Left to right. Back: Victoria Backstrom, Ana Laura Ballina Villaseñor, Patricia Bannon, Camila Melo, Daniela Ferro, María Isabel Kerdel, Rose Cunningham, Adriana Álvarez. Front: María José Maza, Lizzetta Escalante, María Teresa Reyes, Génesis Ferrari, Luz Adriana Frausto, Helen González, Carol Dodd, Valeria Martínez.

We finally took our family picture. So although the year is well underway, I´d like to introduce my community: also known as the Consecrated Women in the studies stage of formation. Including our three formators, we are a big happy family of sixteen, with six nationalities.

First comes first: The first years just got consecrated this past summer… they just celebrated their three-month anniversary. Congratulations! Two are from Guatemala and two from Mexico. (Fun fact: they hold the claim to fame of being the first two Consecrated Women from Guatemala!)

There are four second years, who arrived to Madrid from Monterrey after their consecration last summer. One is from Venezuela and three from Mexico.

As for us third years, three of us are American, one Venezuelan, and one Mexican. We are actually in our second year of studies, but we are preparing for our renewal of temporal vows this summer. Two did their candidacy in Monterrey and three of us in Greenville, and then we all spent one year in Greenville together before coming here to Madrid. That puts us in our “third year” of consecration… and we will be leaving for two years of apostolic practices in our new communities after this school year. So start making bids! J

The past few months I have often commented on how the beginning of this year have not had any comparison to this time last year. Being able to communicate my thoughts fluidly and follow a conversation without exhaustion, knowing the ins and outs of San Dámaso, being settled in to our house, the majority of the community having at least a year behind us… has all contributed to a general atmosphere of feeling settled (instead of surviving!). Of course, there is a significant transition at the beginning of every year, since every year we have a new community. But even the reality of having a community that already exists into which to welcome the new ones has been a beautiful gift for all of us.

Another big difference this year is that it´s the first year that all of us had two years of candidacy according to the new formation plan. It´s been beautiful to see how that has given us a shared experience of discernment, although taking place in different countries, at different times, and in different ways for each person. We share a similar basis of theoretical and practical experiences in themes such as our vows, fraternal life in community, prayer, and our charism, to name a few. Although each person´s path of discernment is very unique, I can perceive a similar flavor from each of our paths having included two years of focused discernment in the candidacy community.

The ups, downs, differences, similarities, transitions, shared experiences, internationality, and growing is all part of this miraculous gift of God that we call community. The Church´s document Fraternal Life in Community sums it up well: “To live in community is to live the will of God together.” As our little family continues striving to do just that, please pray for us and know we pray for you!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

3 Hidden Treasures

brother

My Community – Yours truly, Brother Vinh, Deacon Lucio, Father Louis, Father John, Father Matthew, and Brother Thomas

Sometimes the greatest treasures are hidden in plain sight.

brother

Mary’s Poinsettia

Take Brother Thomas. A few days ago I had bought a mini poinsettia for the statue of Mary in our chapel. After a few days, it started to wilt. Now I love plants, but they’re often mysterious to me. I water them and they die. I don’t water them and… they die! Then yesterday as I was cooking breakfast out of the corner of my eye I saw brother Thomas carrying the little poinsettia around. He did something by the sink with it, then set it out in the hallway for a little, then a few hours later, there was the poinsettia back by the Blessed Mother, just like new. Now, maybe he made some little side trip to the florist, but I think he actually has some kind of special power over plants. You’d never have thought! Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God chose it for himself

parentsGod chose it for himself.  Jesus could have been born from an olive tree, floated down from heaven or simply appeared on the public scene at the age of 30 and skipped the formality of being raised in a family with both a mom and a dad.  God is all wise, he knows all the options and he always chooses the best one.  God chose family life with Mary as his mother and Joseph as his father.

Personally, I learned the “law of exchange” (justice) from my dad and the “law of love” (mercy) from my mom.  My dad helped me understand the need to chip in by doing housework, fairness in dealing with my brothers, curfews and rules that needed to be followed and punishments that corresponded to infractions.(He was always there at the door at 1130 pm on week-ends to give the sobriety test and make sure I made it back in time).  My mom taught me selflessness by often putting on the vaporizer in my room at 3 am, smiling even though her head was about to crack with a bad headache, uniting my brothers after a nasty fight with her good sense of humor, and showing us the power of prayer and faith, especially in the darker moments.  This list barely touches the surface and I am sure all of you could fill many paragraphs with your own personal examples. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

College flag games

collegeHampshire College is probably a lovely little place for the intellectual manipulation of young minds.  They have a fancy website and their location in Amherst, Ma looks quite attractive.

However, these days they don’t have an American flag – or at least they aren’t running the one they have up the flagpole.  It is a long and rather convoluted tale that recounts why this is so.

In a nutshell, about a year ago the college starting flying the flag at half-staff to mourn deaths, oppression, discrimination and (I suspect) a Nutella shortage in the cafeteria.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jesus doesn´t care

Today I was preparing a gospel reflection for my ECyD girls for this Friday. As I was looking for a picture to go on the printout of the gospel passage, I looked up “Advent” with the name of an artist who makes Catholic cartoons. As I scrolled through the Google results, here are some of the first ones I found:

jesus

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Leadership training in Haiti?

haitiMission Youth has formed me to better fulfill leadership roles in the Movement. Truth is, that no matter how many courses you take and how many mentors you have, there are experiences that mark you and make you into the person that you are. They move you past theory into reality. Haiti missions have been just that for me.

The first way that Haiti helped me, is that it shook me up. Haiti has a way of bringing to the surface what is inside the soul, good and bad. It turns you upside down and inside out. To be a leader it is necessary for this to happen every once in a while. It is too easy for me to acquiesce inside of my comfort zone. I can become so dependent on my qualities and gifts instead of on Christ alone. This self-reliance and self-dependence is a farce for the apostle of the Kingdom who is called to live in the disproportional desires of the Heart of Christ. The Lord often asks for more than what we are able to give so that He can supply what is missing. So, oddly as it might seem, Haiti has helped to be prepared to serve in leadership roles by helping me to accept how useless I am and yet at the same time how much the Lord is capable of doing through me. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Advent: Prepare for Christ’s Coming

adventAs we begin advent, we are reminded that Christ will come! How awesome it is that God wants to come to us. It isn’t easy to recognize Him as He comes. This is why we have advent to prepare us to be ready for His coming, this Christmas, and so be prepared every day when He comes to us in so many different ways. The Liturgy tells us about the journey that people made to be able to encounter the Lord. This same journey we are invited to make this Advent to go in search of Him. How much we need Him, but we need to search Him out. We walk this journey through prayer and works of charity, because it is through these that we open ourselves to encounter God. Once we begin the journey we will discover that He is with us guiding us to the true and final encounter for eternity.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Save French television

down“Dear Future Mom” is among the most powerful little videos ever produced.

Fifteen young people with Down syndrome give a message of joy and hope in several languages.  The simply goal is to assure women expecting a baby with Down Syndrome that the future with that child can be beautiful, fulfilling, worth the hard work and sacrifice required.

I have watched the video over and over.  It brings a tear to my eye and (yes, it is true) makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

But apparently the impact in France is different. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Christ Our King

kingdomAs we end the Liturgical Year and the Jubilee Year of Mercy we are reminded that Christ is our King. His kingdom is not here, but through the open doors of His Heart are we allowed in to His Kingdom. These doors always remain open, as the Holy doors are shut for the close of the jubilee year. Today we are reminded what we are living for. The Kingdom or nation to which we pertain is Christ’s. We are on a journey together from all different places to where Christ calls to us and awaits us. It is here and now that we choose Him as our King. He has lead the way, through the path of humility and the cross. He wants to lead us through the doors of His Heart and we can only enter by opening our heart to His. Open your Hearts to Him, He begs us from His throne of the cross. He awaits with hope and love our response. How much He desires us to be happily part of His Kingdom where peace and love are infinite.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment