Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent 2012

Greetings and Holy Advent to all! Our home parish of Holy Trinity began a grand tradition a few years ago with an Advent by Candlelight celebration of a small meal and large fellowship! We were blessed to be the presenters for the first one. Later years included Matthew Kelly from Australia and this year brought Dr. Edward Sri of Colorado. Our Advent CD filled the two rooms and our daughter's voices brought this wonderful season to our hearts.

We left shortly thereafter to visit St. Mark's Church in Wilmington NC and were the guests of Brenda and Joe Wells, OFS, and Linda Perunko, OFS. We were asked to Link 2 themes we had presented recently, The Year of Faith and the Call to Holiness. We began with the Mass of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and then were joined by 50 people for a wonderful day!
 The fraternities, some of whom came from SC, had invited parishioners, and there were more than we expected. The most common comment we heard was the one that blesses anyone putting a gathering like this together: "this was exactly what I needed to hear and do at this point in my life". Linda and her team served beautifully and we were honored to be a part of this.

 The room was sunlit all day and set so there could be discussions and sharing. Several of the participants even took to the microphone in front to recall points made at their tables. Jerry's music and humor was also interspersed, and Cricket's gift of presentation and illustration was warmly received.
Our return to Atlanta was just in time to hear our daughter Geneva Adrienne solo in church with a large choir of GA Singers. Their selections of holy Advent and Christmas songs, sung with simply a gorgeous piano background, filled the church and audience with tidings of comfort and joy!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

The colors are still present in mid November in the North GA mountains where we returned for the third or fourth time to lead a retreat for the Secular Franciscan fraternities of Blairsville GA
and Franklin NC
The lively and beautiful day began with Mass with Father Liem and Deacon John Paul and the Feast of St. Leo. Deacon John Paul spoke on the Franciscan view of real vs. "dishonest wealth" from the gospel. Fr. Liem took several moments at the end of mass to lead us in a silent reflection on the process of emptying the self. (the picture to the right is of another celebration). Cricket began the retreat asking the group to reflect on each word of the theme, and the result was an engaged and lively 'round table' discussion and fellowship. More on this theme will be developed and published later.

The room was as full as the hearts of fellowship and Circket's theme and activities on fraternity made it so no one wanted to leave when we had finished in late afternoon! The group sang the Franciscan canticle as a great choir, and the joy of fraternity was clearly present throughout. We look forward to our next trip there, very soon!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Year of Faith, 2012-2013

The summer included some travel, but a lot of family time and writing time for Cricket. jerry spent some time in the studio recording some new songs as well as our daughters, all of whom were here in Atlanta for August! Jerry continued teaching for the Diaconate program and spending time with his mother in nursing care up in Indy. The above photo was taken at the ARG in early August---always a wonderful time of renewal, learning, and communion in NC. A high point for Jerry was singing, with much chorus from the 300 or so fellow travellers, another song he wrote about getting lost at that retreat center between the buildings, cafe, and rooms, to the tune of amazing grace (I once was found, but now am lost....)---but also singing "I will gaze" to the San Damiano Cross at the close.

 This picture was taken at a wonderful retreat center called Avila in NC. It is run by 2 wonderful nuns, Sr. Cam and Sr. Damian, and we hosted about 20 secular franciscans and inquirers in a 3 day retreat entitled, " A Journey through the Four Allegories and Rebuilding Ourselves Before We Rebuild the Church." This had been requested from a shorter presentation Cricket had made at ARG in 2010.

 This was the first place where Cricket began selling her most recent book, "Releasing our trials to God", and we are working on an audio version of her teaching with music included. This picture to the right is taken just outside the conference room in the courtyard, but the grounds extend wonderfully.  There are stations and benches and gazebos, even a labyrinth for spiritual reflection. Many of the visitors had been here previously and found this a wonderful place for an annual retreat.
 Sister Damian Marie, OFS, who revitalized this center in the 80's and still administrates it today, cleaned up a tiny cemetery where a Carmelite nun had been buried. This cemetary now also holds several children whose lack of funds had meant a non descript marker or place. Jerry sat praying for hours over this beautiful testament to the eternal life promise of our faith.
In early October, we were blessed to lead a morning and evening of reflection on the impact of the Year of Faith at our parish, Holy Trinity. It was well attended, though I regret I got so caught up in Cricket's teaching that I forgot to take pictures of the attendees! This teaching was so well received, primarily based on the Pope's Porta Fidei letter, that she was immediately asked to re-present it to 3 different prayer groups and bible studies. We intend to work on an audio program of this with music as well, and Jerry did provide music for these occasions.
Later in October,  we again got to visit with the newly established Conyers secular Franciscans in a retreat Cricket wrote on Discerning your spiritual gifts and ministering with them. This is held at the beautiful Hoste catholic prayer community near the Trappist Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers GA.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Snow, Summer and Service!

 Greetings from the Highways of MN! We began this trip with a prayer concert at Blessed Kateri Church in Plymouth MA. We were able to visit with our friends from St. Louis University, Ellen and Jack McDermott and family! It was a beautiful evening of prayer and song: I even hauled out the mandolin and 5 string banjo and they joined in enthusiastically. Cricket's closing prayer led to a poignant moment: as we were challenged to be the prayers we were saying, one of the deacons got up and announced that there was more than enough food that evening for the group we had. He then said that a homeless couple with their dog were living in woods nearby; he wasn't sure how to work the sound system, and realized that our concert had been brodcast outside! He said that our songs and message may have been a help to them, and the group then put food together for them.

We then headed up to Mount Alvernia retreat center in Wappingers' Falls, NY, to lead an annual Retreat with Secular Franciscans from NY and NJ. This was a large and wonderful group with whom we enjoyed a whole weekend on the requested theme of  "Understanding Penance: Pursuing the Call to Holiness." 


from Anthony

Greetings in Christ. I just want to say a special 'thank you' for the added blessings your music and spirit brought to me during the retreat at the Mt. Alvernia retreat this past weekend April 20-22 2012. You, your wife Cricket and your entire family are a specially blessed group of people. The collection included in the CD "The Franciscan Crown Rosary" is a most welcome piece of memento from that blessed time which will augment my spiritual well being for years to come!

We left Mt. Alvernia and visited with our great family friends in Lake Skaneatles NY, Tom and Leah Valenti. We were infant families together in married student housing Notre Dame while I was in grad school and Tom was in Law School. AFter a wonderful evening, we woke up to the pictures you see---this was the end of April and we needed a snow plow! But it was wonderful.

We then returned to my childhood parish of Holy Spirit in Indianapolis, where we had done a parish mission last Lent. This was a prayer concert on the theme of  'living the hope of Easter'. This concert included Dr Jim Larner, Music chair at Marian University, on the flute and sax; as well as my youngest brother on guitar. This allowed us to involve the audience in special ways, and Fr. Paul had built the evening around some interactive discussion questions. It was a grand evening of prayer and fellowship! It closed with my presenting the song I had written for this parish the previous year, on seeing Rainfall as God's mercy.

We then brought the same music ensemble to St. Louis de Montfort parish in Fishers Indiana, where we had also done a parish mission last Lent. Some members of the parish staff had studied with Dr. Larner at Marian, so it was a wonderful time of prayer and music! The evening closed with honoring the missionary commitment of the Zatkulak family that has impacted people in Brazil and SLDM for decades. I had written a song to honor them based on their explanation of how they followed the call: "All I Said Was Yes!" It was so wonderful to see their college aged children and friends who themselves have dedicated years of service and learning to the sister parish of SLDM in Brazil! We simply never know the 'ripples' of influence our following in faith will generate!

We then returned to St. Peter's Parish of Forest Lake, MN to present a parish mission with Pastor Father DeGrood on the theme of "God's call on our lives and our Yes!" We had served there previously for a staff retreat and parish mission, and this invitation was another blessed opportunity to serve with Fr. DeGrood and the leadership of St. Peter's. Cricket did both evening and morning sessions and the parish makes us feel so at home that I'm convinced we live there. Deacon Ralph and Louise L'allier again let us stay with them for much prayer and fellowship; and the week closed with the parish singing the song I had written for them called "A grandparent's blessing".

We closed out this wonderful journey with my mother, celebrating her 90th birthday and memorial for my oldest sister Helen, who headed to heaven shortly before.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter 2012

Just a short update due to requests! We have been doing several prayer hours at our parish during Lent. A special 137 hours of Lenten prayer was beautifully done with adoration and a number of ministries leading. The settings were so reverent that I failed to take pictures!
Jerry has been teaching in the Permanent Deacon program for the Archdiocese, and travelling a great deal to MS, TN, and AL.
Cricket continues to lead retreats and Days of Reflection, as well as her dilgent landscaping and caretaking of our Stations of the Cross prayer path behind our soon to sell home. She also continues as the Spiritual Advisor for a Secular Franciscan fraternity out near the Monastery in Conyers.
At 'press time', we are readying for another long trip into Boston, NY, IN, and MN for concerts, conferences, and missions! Will update during those trips!
God Bless!!!