How My Test became My Testimony

 

I want to share with you why the feast day of Saint Louis de Montfort is so important to me. 

My husband, Eric and I responded to God’s call 18 years ago when we moved from Chicago to Fishers, Indiana. 

Like many of you, Saint Louis de Montfort became our home away from home, a place where friends quickly became family.

I am always amazed at God’s perfect timing especially when you look back upon a situation that was once difficult and later can see the many graces of God at work.

Seven years ago while I was studying for my masters degree in pastoral theology, I was being treated for an illness at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; it was about the same time that my mom was robbed, beaten and strangled in her Chicagoland home by an intruder. When I arrived at ICU my mom heard my voice praying a Hail Mary and she immediately responded by squeezing my hand she couldn’t speak because she was breathing with the help of a ventilator.

It was an incredibly painful time in my life physically, emotionally and spiritually. I prayed that God would give me some sort of a sign.

The next thing I knew the doctors told me that my surgery would be on April 28…..the feast day of SLDM. A sure sign!

Someone told me to ask the surgeon if he would pray with me before my surgery and the last thing I remember was praying a Hail Mary.

When I woke up from surgery, by the grace of God, my husband Eric and our 2 young children were surrounding me. Of course I was thinking “am I all better? What did the doctors say?” Eric didn’t know the answer, so he responded by showing me a text on my phone that said:

“the Saint Louis de Montfort staff prayed the rosary today for your healing.”

Another incredible sign!

When I asked, God gave me all the signs that I needed to see! There was no doubt in my mind that God was calling me to a deeper relationship with Him through the intercession of Saint Louis de Montfort. 

Throughout the healing process, as if I didn’t have enough grad school books, I started to read the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, most notably his book on Mary Consecration. I learned ….. SLDM was born in 1673 in France and died at the age of 43 and he was a Priest for 16 impactful yrs. 

TODAY nearly 300 years after the death of Saint Louis de Montfort, he is known as THE pioneer of Mariology, the study of Mary the Mother of God; a degree that is offered at catholic universities throughout the world. Incidentally, Fr Leo Patalinghug our keynote speaker tonight actually studied Mariology in Rome under JPII.

Saint Louis de Montfort is one of the earliest and greatest promoters of the rosary and his writing influenced Saint John Paul II so much that Pope John Paul II dedicated his entire pontificate and his papal motto to Mary, citing the words of Saint Louis de Montfort. Pope JPII credited Saint Louis de Montfort in his encyclical on the rosary stating that the writing of SLDM marked a turning point in his life.

I believe that signs are everywhere but we have to BE still to recognize them. When I picked up National Geographic magazine in the grocery store check out line, I saw MARY

 

on the cover of June 2018 as a sign that our world is desperately in need of messengers to pray the rosary. I know first hand what an incredible feeling it is to be on the receiving end.

My hope and my prayer is that you will recognize a saint working in your life, like Saint Louis de Montfort did in mine. Thank you.

24985B63-2A55-49E2-947E-CA29DF118EACA64927EC-2E11-4FFE-9DE5-2E6DAA9A7329

81B7F38A-9D14-441B-B674-5718EC099C04.jpeg

Advertisements

French Patron Celebration Honors Mary, Our Mother

Originally published in the May 2018 Newsletter for Saint Louis de Montfort Catholic Community. Fishers, Indiana.

7D4AE222-D314-4A46-8E94-8CEBAA662D57.jpegFew Catholic priests have led a life as fascinating as our featured guest and keynote speaker, Father Leo Patalinghug. He studied Mariology (Mary, the Mother God) at the Pontifical University in Rome under Pope Saint John Paul II; and not only did he have everyone filled with laughter and joy; he captivated the SOLD-OUT audience with the reasons why he is a “Mamma’s Boy!”

  • “It is hard to capture the beauty and essence of the evening in words!” Rosie Zatkulak
  •  “The French Provencal Bistro dinner and candlelight rosary was a creative way to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the founding of Saint Louis de Montfort” Deborah Mader.
  • Mary Owen said, “I loved the French themed food, it was delicious and more tasteful than anything I have ever made at my house.”
  • Christopher Kennedy said, “The rosary was the highlight, I felt an amazing warmth and sense of community.”
  • Many people asked why are we celebrating 40 years? Fr. Pat said, “Why not?! Because I won’t be here in ten years and this is a momentous way to celebrate our patron, to Jesus through Mary.”

World renown chef, Fr. Leo Patalinghug celebrated the feast day Mass sharing “what binds us together and what binds God to us, is food.” The Gospel (John 15:1-8) came to life with a fruitful, energetic message about pruning so that we can all bear good fruit in our lives.

The Knights of Columbus chefs prepared the French menu with Fr. Leo while a photo collage wall highlighted the last 40 years, coupled with a video that introduced the life of Saint Louis de Montfort from his birth in 1673 to his death at the age of 43. Known as the pioneer of Mariology, Saint Louis de Montfort was a priest for 16 impactful years.

Bishop Higi sent a letter of gratitude to Saint Louis de Montfort parishioners, while the historian and founder of the parish, Judy and Dave Kinder highlighted the tough times that brought us to where we are today. Prominent symbols of the evening were displayed at each place setting that included a glow in the dark rosary ring and the Saint Louis de Montfort consecration prayer on a holy card; all 250 people in the tent joined together to recite the prayer.

The candlelight rosary was a highlight of the holy and sacred evening, a replica of the candlelight rosary that takes place every night in Lourdes, France and Fatima, Portugal. Did you know Mary is on the front cover of National Geographic June 2018 issue? Maybe that is a sign that our world is desperately in need of messengers to pray the rosary.

Each person held a candle and joined in prayer for the intentions in the silence of their heart, and for the prayer intention names announced prior to each mystery, including family, friends, former St. Louis de Montfort priests, bishops and Pope Francis. The Joyful Mysteries were led by Fr. Pat, Fr. Leo, Fr. Derek Aaron (Our lady of Mount Carmel), and former Associate Pastor, Fr. Dave Hellmann (Saint Laurence in Muncie), one decade was spoken by a guest in French.

The real beauty was Our Beautiful Blessed Mother watching over us and protecting us with her mantle from a pillar on the stage!

Local Indianapolis Artist Impacts Lives in More Ways than One

New Processional Cross Blessing to take place in 2018 at Saint Louis de Montfort Church in Fishers, Indiana.E9921E39-B9F4-45BA-A238-9478672B8B3A
Sacred artists communicate Christ’s message which is why artists are so important in the Catholic Church. Maybe the names Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Donatello, Botticell, Berini or Rembrandt strike a chord, maybe not. Over time, I have developed a deep appreciation for many forms of art that depict rich history and profound meaning.

Likewise, local Indianapolis artist, Ryan Feeney tells a story without using any words. Through the generosity of Saint Louis de Montfort parishioners, Bob and Joan Smith, a new processional cross was made possible. Feeney was the commissioned artist chosen to design a bronze sculpture of Christ.  The processional cross is the last of nine liturgical pieces integrated into the 2011 renovation and enhancement at Saint Louis de Montfort Church in Fishers, Indiana.

Feeney’s task was to tell the story of pain and suffering that Jesus endured. Suffering is one of the greatest mysteries of the human experience. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter on the Christian meaning of salvific suffering in 1984. Saint Pope John Paul II said, “And we ask all you who suffer to support us. We ask precisely you who are weak to become a source of strength for the Church and humanity. In the terrible battle between the forces of good and evil, revealed to our eyes by our modern world, may your suffering in union with the Cross of Christ be victorious!” (SD).

We have all been there! Suffering is inescapable. Be it physical, mental or emotional, it can be a dark place. We might ask God, why me? And, then hopefully we realize that God is calling us to a deeper relationship with Him. Scripture tells us “For Christ died for sins once and for all, a good man on behalf of sinners, in order to lead you to God. He was put to death physically, but made alive spiritually” (1 Peter 3:18).

Feeney, a full time firefighter for the Indianapolis Fire Department works daily in life threating situations. You may have heard his name being tossed around like a football as the Colt’s unveiled Feeney’s most notable half-ton bronze sculpture of Peyton Manning in October 2017. By sharing his God given talents, Feeney’s work continues to impact the lives of countless others for generations to come. Feeney said, “getting the job for the Colt’s was a bit of a Hail Mary”.

8D81112B-CC76-4B3A-8560-634DC691A137Feeney is a native of Indiana and has a growing list of accomplishments around Indianapolis that include the Peace Dove sculpture at the Indianapolis Library; the Fallen Deputy memorial at the entrance of the Marion County Jail; the life size corpus of Jesus above the altar at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Indianapolis; a fireman at the Indianapolis Professional Firefighters Union represents duty, honor and sacrifice; a bust of Father Thomas Scecina who was killed in WWII is prominently displayed at Scecina Memorial High School; and a bronze eagle rests at the Indianapolis 9/11 Memorial.

In searching for a bronze sculptor, the art team at Saint Louis de Montfort first saw the bronze memorial shoes of the late, Jen Maginot at Cathedral High School. Her bronze shoes led to Sincerus Bronze Art Center, a full-service foundry in Indianapolis where Feeney was finalizing the life size Peyton Manning bronze sculpture. Walking through the foundry step by step and seeing concept drawings turn into modern day clay molds is awe inspiring.

Saint Louis de Montfort Church is not new to the idea of commissioning artists in Indiana. In 2010, the church renovation and expansion that includes the altar, presiders chair, ambo (pulpit), ambry (holder for sacred vessels), glass blown vessels used to hike the sacred oils, processional candles, altar candles and the sanctuary lamp. It was an important aspect to find local artists to enhance the liturgical space because the Catholic Church prefers the integrity and energy of a piece of art produced individually by the labor of an artist above objects that are mass produced (BLS 147).

The bronze corpus bears the weight of mystery, awe, reverence and wonder. Parishioner, Adam Smith was an integral part of the art process that began in 2015. God called Adam Smith to pray about what the design for a new processional cross would look like. Adam collaborated with Fr. Pat while visiting many churches in Italy, in 2016.

In 1700, several months after the ordination of Saint Louis de Montfort, Montfort himself designed a cross to carry with him that was otherwise kept in the corner of his meeting room. On it he inscribed, in simple and forceful evangelical terms: CARRY YOUR CROSS, DESIRE CROSSES. The glory of suffering with Christ, the crucified Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom. Montfort’s cross became known as the Wisdom Cross, or the Cross of Poitiers. The Mariology of described in Saint Louis de Montfort books covers the meaning, the symbols and the love of the cross as a follower praying to Jesus through Mary.

Feeney and Smith recalled anatomy class and discussed the reason why every part of the body of Jesus is stretched the way it is. The triceps, ligaments and torso tell a story of suffering. The bronze corpus (Latin for body) compliments the fabricated cross created by Adam Smith. Smith incorporated a replica of the church stained-glass windows, symbolic icons on stones and the French translation of a prayer written by the church patron Saint Louis de Montfort.

The cross is meant to draw the People of God into a deeper awareness of their lives and into their role and responsibility in the wider world.

The central image of Christianity is a crucifix, calling to mind the passion, resurrection and Christ’s final coming in glory. Every work of Christian art shares in the image of suffering, death and resurrection, recognition that by his wounds we are healed (BLS 144).

So, the next time you wear a cross around your neck or kneel before the cross, remember that it isn’t just the cross alone that tells a story. It’s Jesus’ dying and rising on the cross that sets our faith apart! The crucifix is the most prominent symbol of Christianity.

Sources:

(BLS) Built on Living Stones. Art, Architecture and Worship. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

(SD) SALVIFICI DOLORIS Apostolic Letter. Saint Pope John Paul II. 1984.

3E250645-51B9-42B9-BDFE-0C6CEC8F5A90

By: Kerin Buntin, M.A. Pastoral Theology

Date: 12/1/17

Holy ground at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton

There is no such thing as coincidence, rather it can be defined as God’s providence.

My beautiful niece and God-daughter, Emma Grace Donovan was born on the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, January 4, 2001. That was thirty-five years to the day, after I was born.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us!

Yesterday Emma was Confirmed by Bishop Adam Parker. I was truly blessed to help Emma discern a Confirmation name and to stand by her side as Sponsor. During the Mass, I tried to hold back tears but failed miserably when the canticle of the Saints was sung.

In his homily, Bishop Parker summarized my exact thoughts when he said there is no such thing as coincidence. Bishop Parker was called to be a Bishop by Pope Francis exactly thirty years to the day after he was Confirmed. He is also the youngest Bishop in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

I was truly blessed to go with my sister and her family to visit the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton located one hour from their home. While there, we watched a short movie on the incredible life of Seton and we walked in the footsteps of the home where Seton once lived. We learned it is the 200tg Anniversary of the Narional Shrine! We attended Mass and kneeled at the tomb of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in a defining moment of grace. We also received a Plenary Indulgence.

It was a day that I have been looking forward to for a very long time but the day was so extraordinary and reached far beyond my expectations. My prayer is that the Holy Spirit might help me to guide others to see the face of Christ more clearly through the Saints, the Sacraments and SoulCore.

You are invited! Visit our website at http://www.PeaceLovePilgrimage.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

 

IMG_2189.JPGA wonderful prayer in Saint Elizabeth’s name is:
Lord God, you blessed Elizabeth Seton with gifts of grace as wife and mother, educator and foundress, so that she might spend her life in service to your people. Through her example and prayers may we learn to express our love for you in love for our fellow men and women. We ask this through Christ our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.45BCC472-908E-4FCB-8A7B-D65C76ABCC48

Today is the 100 Year Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima

Our Lady said that the rosary can stop wars, and can bring world peace. We have to do what she said, and live good lives. There’s no other plan from heaven that’s so specific, for what we’re going through now. She [the Blessed Mother] spelled it out. Prayer, penance, the First Saturdays’ devotion—and live a good, holy life. That’s the answer.

–from the book Our Lady of Fatima: 100 Years of Stories, Prayers, and Devotions

Peace Love Pilgrimage will depart from Indianapolis for Fatima, Portugal in about one month. We are truly blessed to be led under the spiritual direction of Father Travis Stephens from the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana.

Fr. Travis is a convert to the Catholic faith, and has (4) college degrees. This year he is celebrating 5 years in the Vocation of the Priesthood. Although he is an avid traveler, most recently visiting his brother in Korea this will be his first organized pilgrimage. A little unknown fact about Fr. Travis is that he is an iconographer and of course God wanted C301A4D9-9DE7-4569-BDB0-A4B126E37FC0his first icon to be of Mary.

We have 13 pilgrims going to Fatima, each one just like Fr. Travis was called by name and chosen by God.

Listen to the Catholic Radio Indianapolis link below to hear Fr Travis speak about the upcoming pilgrimage to honor the 100 Year Anniversary of the Apparitions.

IMG_2532

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-w9fex-6912db#.WOlnHonM8As.twitter

Please pray for us that we will be made Holy in the image and likeness of God and that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Coming soon to the Saint Shop is a sterling silver absolutely gorgeous pendant of Our beautiful blessed Mother, Mary with her child Jesus by Father Travis Stephens.

IMG_2017

There is a time for everything. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Holy Thursday Altar of Repose Pilgrimage 2017

On Holy Thursday, after the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at Saint John the Evangelist in Indianapolis, Indiana many pilgrims set out on a pilgrimage. Pastor, Fr. Rick Nagel led the 7th annual ancient practice of visiting seven churches. Each of the churches has an Altar of Repose of the Blessed Sacrament varying from simple to elaborate. Personally, I have a deep appreciation for the liturgy and sacred decorum of this holy night having led the preparations at my parish for many years.

While most of the world went to sleep as usual, many Catholic pilgrims ventured out by foot, car or bus to keep Jesus company on the eve of his Crucifixion. The Blessed Sacrament is usually taken on a procession through the Church after Mass and reposed in the tabernacle until midnight or until the Good Friday Communion service.

Our group was not small. We tried to enter each Church as reverently as any large group of pilgrims can, in order to pray. Ater a few minutes of kneeling, Fr. Rick began to sing in order to facilitate a smooth departure. Pilgrims joined in: “Stay with me, remain here with me, watch and pray.”

We visited the Cathedral of Saint Peter and Paul and the churches of Saint Mary, Saint Michael, Saint Patrick, Holy Rosary and Sacred Heart before returning to Saint John the Evangelist to pray. In between each stop, we prayed a decade of the rosary focusing on the virtues.

I was moved by the entire evening from start to finish. Being in the presence of Our Lord and kneeling seven times is profound. There is no denying it. It is a time for intense devotion for the Most Holy Sacrament, prayer and adoration as we enter into the Triduum.

One of the most moving moments was upon entering Saint Patrick’s Church. It is an enormous very old gothic church and seemingly run down. History has it that it was supposed to be torn down due to lack of funds and attendance but was saved when a Spanish congregation moved in. The Altar of Repose was adorned in beautifully depicted Spanish woven tapestries with Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego situated close by. A parishioner was singing lovely hymns in Spanish and instrumentalists accompanied her heartfelt lyrics. I could not understand a word she was singing but I felt the incredible presence of Our Lord in her tears. What was completly clear was the universal church of prayer at seemingly one place and at one moment in time.

The history of this ancient tradition dates back to the earliest days of Christianity. The annual Lenten pilgrimage to dozens of Rome’s most striking churches is a sacred tradition that still stands today. Each time I participate year in and year out, I understand more and more and feel called to share this beautiful tradition with others. Visiting the Altar of Repose originally stems from pilgrims visiting seven churches as a form of penance including Saint Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls, St. Mary Major, St. John Lateran, St. Laurence Outside the Walls, Holy Cross in Jerusalem and the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love.

There was one scripture that resonated within me last night. It kept coming back to me over and over again each time I kneeled down. Matthew 18:20-22. “For wherever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Amen.

00DD025B-4F94-4193-B5C4-DB43ABA0B387

When Our Lady of Fatima Spoke to Me

Photo: Sacred Art by Religious Sculptor, Frederick Charles Shrady (obit: NY Times Jan. 22, 1990) of New York.

Pope Francis declared 2017 the Year of Fatima to coincide with the 100 Year Anniversary of the Apparitions. The Apparitions are when Our Lady appeared to 3 young children 100 years ago in Fatima, Portugal. The Fatima secrets are fascinating and there are many great books written about Fatima including one by Fr. Andrew Apostoli with a foreward by Raymond Cardinal Burke, that I am currently reading.

There is sequential history behind my personal faith journey that is relevant. My maternal grandmother, Ouida Noelle Bundschuh was baptized as an adult (after raising her seven children Catholic) she went through Sacramental preparation with Father Fulton Sheen at her home in order to receive the Sacraments at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. My grandmother carried gold filled rosary beads that day, that later were made into bracelets by her daughters, the crucifix was given to me!

In 1966, I was born Kerin Noelle on the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.

After years of prayer and reflection, God called me to create a timeline to form some semblance of order in my life.

In 1975, after my grandmothers came into the Catholic faith, my grandfather bequeathed the Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton modern day bronze triptych sculpture altar with candles designed by Frederick Shrady (1907-1990) to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, in New York. The altar was the brainchild of Father Fulton Sheen and dedicated to the first American Saint in the United States, consecrated by Terrance Cardinal Cooke.

In 1982, Pope John Paul II commissioned the very same artist from New York, Frederick Shrady, who is the first American artist ever to be commissioned by a Pope to design religious inspired sacred art for the Vatican Gardens. Shrady designed Our Lady of Fatima in the Vatican Gardens for JPII.

In 1984, I received the Sacrament of Confirmation. It was through the power of the Holy Spirit that I choose my grandmothers name, Ouida, as the perfect role model and companion in my life. I was then that I was gifted my grandmothers gold rosary crucifix that she carried on her Baptism day, blessed by Father Fulton Sheen. I wear the crucifix today as a sign of my Catholic faith.

[Side note. From 2007-2012, God called me to an instrumental leadership role at St Louis de Montfort Parish in Fishers, Indinana. I had the great pleasure to oversee various Sacred Art projects initally the 1.8 Million dollar renovation and enhancement of the church. The project is summarized in Evangelization through Sacred Art and the Altar Dedication by Bishop Timothy Doherty. It was my Pastoral Project publication for completion of a Masters in Pastoral Theology at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana, in 2012. “In every church building, art and architecture become the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the local community, in preparing a place to receive God’s Word and to enter more fully into communion with him. In these guidelines, approved in 2000, the bishops of the United States offer instruction on how to design places of worship that are dignified, beautiful, and “suited to sacred celebrations.” USCCB. Built of Living Stones-Art, Architecture and Worship.

Subsequently, I would oversee additional Sacred Art projects at Saint Louis de Montfort in 2013 for the renovation of the Youth Ministry Center; a new rectory in 2015; and a new processional cross in 2017. “Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God—the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who “reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature,” in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.” This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2502].

In 2016, my husband and I were fortunate enough to receive a 25th Wedding Anniversary blessing on our Anniversary and on the feast of Saint Faustina, by Pope Francis. The day before the audience with Pope Francis, we spent time walking and praying in the Vatican Gardens with fellow pilgrims. It is a spectacular sacred space, magnificent beyond words, breathtaking to say the least. I always wanted to see the Vatican Gardens, especially the sacred art bronze sculpture of Our Lady of Fatima created by Frederick Shrady commissioned by Saint Pope John Paul II.

It has been said, that Saint Pope John Paul II prayed the rosary daily at this particular Marian modern day Our Lady of Fatima sculpture. In fact, I learned over time that JPII dedicated his entire pontificate to Our Blessed Mother, Mary. The apostolic motto of  JPII was Totus Tuus a Latin phrase that means “totally thine” taken from the Mariology writing of Saint Louis de Montfort. JPII expressed his Total Consecration to Mary based on the spiritual works of Saint Louis de Montfort.

As providence would have it, God choose Saint Louis de Montfort School and Parish in Fishers, Indiana for our family for over 17 years. In that time I completed a Total Consecration to Mary and renewal annually (author Michael Gaitley) through Saint JPII and Saint Louis de Montfort.

The paradox is that while we were in Italy on the first inaugural Peace Love Pilgrimage International journey, I knew for certain Our Lady of Fatima was speaking to me. From the moment my eyes gazed upon her, my knees began to buckle, totally cognoscente that my feet were standing in the footsteps of Saint Pope John Paul II. It was an incredibly mystical experience. I don’t know why but I touched the gold crucifix that I was wearing to Our Lady of Fatima. I tried to share the prominence of my story with fellow pilgrims but could barely get the words out of my mouth as they continued to walk on the most beautiful path lined with stones and meticuously edged green grass. I knew for certain that my feet were unapologetically stuck like glue to the holy ground beneath me.

I keep going back to that monumental moment in my mind and in my heart. It was a feeling of complete oneness in communion with God. On that day, it was as clear to me as the sky is blue and the day is long that God was calling me to orchestrate a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal. This was way before I ever knew anything about the 100 Year Anniversary of Fatima!

My hope remains steadfast that I will someday take as many Bishops and priests to Fatima as possible not only to kneel and to pray but to allow the Holy Spirit to affirm their vocation.

The real irony is that my beautiful seventy-seven year old mom and God-mother to her own Mom who was Baptised by Father Fulton Sheen was the very first pilgrim to register for the Fatima inaugural pilgrimage with me!

You see, God clearly interceded and granted our family more time with my mother through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. My dear mother was robbed, beaten, strangled and left to die by an intruder in the home where we all grew up, located in the northern suburbs of Chicago. The intruder was caught many weeks later trying to flee the country and he was sentenced to life in prison without parole for attempted murder, burglary and one other count.

When I arrived at the hospital in the middle of the night, mom was unrecognizable, unresponsive and intubated. When I drove my car down I-65 for three hours, I don’t recall the actual drive because I imagined the road to be the aisle at church, never wavering from side to side, my eyes glared straight at the crucifix of Jesus on the cross.

Immediately, I held my mom’s hand and prayed a Hail Mary softly in her ear. She could not respond verbally but she did squeeze my hand! That response was miraculous to me and I attribute it only to Our Blessed Mother, Mary. By God’s Grace, Mom learned how to walk and talk again after many months of rehabilitation and moving in and out of my sisters homes and my brother’s home for a month at a time.

Miraculously, I learned more and more details from mom in her recovery that I had never know before. It became so clear to me that Our beautiful blessed Mother had a hand in weaving it all together so perfectly. There were details pertaining to my mom’s Mother’s conversion to Catholicism, conversations with Father Fulton Sheen over dinner regularly at their home, and the conversion of an incredibly Sacred and world renown artist that all came to the forefront like it never had before.

My own faith journey heightened to a whole new level as a result of the recovery that God granted my mom on this earthly pilgrimage. When our grown children traveled from Indiana to visit my mom after she was settled into her new condominium with full security, mom was quick to show a DVD of Fulton Sheen so they (born in 1998 and 2001) could learn more about a future Saint in the making. I told our kids that by the grace of God, someday we might be able to attend the canonization of Fulton Sheen in Rome!

So, the story lives on!

Guided by the Holy Spirit, I am excited to lead Peace Love Pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal on June 16-24, 2017 with Fr Travis Stephens. Fatima, Portugal will be followed by a student Pilgrimage to Washington DC that was inspired by the new Saint John Paul II National Shrine. The idea came from God, that a school trip to DC should be faitfilled especially with a Catholic School named St Louis de Montfort. So the journey will be a replica of past years only this trip will be on steroids for the faith with prayer, the Saints and the Sacraments first and foremost.

Many have found spiritual graces that come only through pilgrimages and coming into contact with holy sites. When we go to these holy sites where the Holy Spirit has worked so powerfully through the faith of people we open ourselves to God, and we can come to a profound encounter with Him that could not have otherwise been realized in another place or another kind of situation.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us.

Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us!