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."
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.