Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Advent Newsletter from Cricket!

(Rom 13:11-12, 14)

Advent Newsletter 2013

          We are all on a journey.  And like the three wise men who traveled across the desert following the star to be in the presence of this newborn King who was the Christ, God is leading us---each of us---in a journey into our own deeper encounter with the same Christ.

          God sees this journey clearly, where we are and where we need to be, and how to best guide us to our destination.  He sends us people and circumstances to aid us. He sends us signs and ‘stars’ to reflect upon.   And God knows how to work even our difficulties for good along the way.

          But keep in mind that while there is only one Christ to discover at the end, there are, in a sense, two journeys we make to get there.  One will be an external journey---the way we live and practice our faith outwardly.  The other will be an interior one---the journey we make as we follow the desires and motivations of our heart, what we dwell on in our thoughts, and the more ‘interior’ ways we live.  I mention two journeys because we can be doing all the right things on the external one and still make little or no progress on our interior one.

          Both journeys, though, will challenge us to make choices that either draw us closer to Christ and his holiness, or draw and pull us in another direction.  Even now, perhaps, the smallest choices can be making a difference in our journey’s end.

          But we can remember that:

          Quiet stillness to listen and pray will help.  Determined efforts to follow the way of the Lord instead of the way of the flesh will help.  Rejoicing in God’s goodness’, love, and constant faithfulness to us will also help. 

          During this season of Advent I would like to offer a suggestion:

          Reflect especially on the journey of your interior life.  Reflect on its growth, reflect on the signs God is sending, and on your own choices to follow, or ignore, his leadings of Love. 

          Then, whatever encourages, supports, and deepens your closeness to Christ and helps you grow as a true reflection of his selfless love, follow that way.  Do this every day of Advent.  And if we do, by the time we celebrate the birth of Christ on Christmas Day there will be, I believe, a new and deeper ‘birth of Christ’ in our own lives---in our heart, our thoughts, and in our desires and actions. 

          What joy for us when we get to that place of seeing Christ’s presence come to life in deeper and richer ways.  It will be worth the time we took to pray and be still before Him.  It will be worth the struggle and the dying-to-self choices we had to make.  It will all be worth it, and we will rejoice with deeper faith, a firmer hope, and more authentic love in our heart.  And that would be a beautiful ‘gift’ to give to the Christ child on Christmas morning.

          Blessings of Advent joy to you all.  Cricket

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Advent and Christmas 2013!


We want to especially thank those of you who keep us in prayer as we have just come through a Fall with more weekends booked in service than ever! On the ‘daily beat’, Cricket is finishing going through nearly 25 years of memories in the house to transition to more life in a small motorhome….She is also writing a new book about this experience!

Jerry continues to teach for the Diaconate Formation program, and he is also working on a Doctorate in Ministry while Teaching for Christ the Teacher College (online MRE degree)

In August, our daughter Bethany and companion Alejandro visited from Spain (tho I called him Ale-eskimo as he was always getting cold in air conditioning), which meant Jerry went to the ARG while Cricket stayed home with family. Talked at ARG with nat’l minister Deacon Tom Bello about our plan to travel to different OFS fraternities in 2014, making ourselves available to serve (he was, as always, extremely supportive). Jerry always does some music for the Memorial service, as well as a light hearted singalong, which this year contained some good natured humor toward Fr. Linus DeSantis, OFM, the spiritual director.

We began Sept serving the Aquinas HS in Augusta faculty retreat, which included four grade school faculties as well. It was a day of reflection following a communal Mass, and a real honor to do something Fr. Michael  Lubinsky of St. Mary’s had worked on for a couple of years since we served him at MHT a few years ago.

We returned to Augusta a week later to provide a concert and day of reflection sponsored by the Augusta Secular Franciscan fraternity and the parish of St. Mary’s on the Hill. This was a special concert, occurring a special First Friday Mass, that included our long time friends from California Pete and Sue Fullerton. Pete was a founding member of We Five, who had several # 1 hits in the 60’s including “You Were On My Mind”! Pete sang and played bass, and Aquinas music teacher Natalie Salazar also played violin or us! (You would have loved their Ave Maria together!)


The following day, we provided an interactive day of reflection on the stewardship of time, very well received by a good combination of Secular Franciscans and parish members.

Next, we travelled West for a couple of weeks. We served a 15 person prayer group dedicated to St. Padre Pio in Memphis under the direction of Deacon Norman Alexander. This was an annual retreat weekend, and Cricket’s teaching on Intercession, drawing on the reflections in her book by that name.

We then travelled to her hometown of St. Louis to attend her high school reunion, staying with her lifelong friend Sue Bowman.  Cricket always enjoys this weekend from start to finish! We even visited her childhood home. Those of you familiar with stories she tells about her childhood faith development in this home and yard would especially appreciate her connecting there---the house was empty and for sale, so we had free rein to walk around and take pictures. Her hometown was also the site of our getting to see our daughter Talia, touring with a Church choir, who were rehearsing there! 

October drew us to do the annual retreat for the REC in Ridgecrest NC. Region Minister Jerry Rousseau asked Cricket to take a theme she had done with them a few years previously (Penance and Living Prayer) and expand it in Leadership areas, which went beautifully!

We then travelled to serve Cricket’s own secular Franciscan fraternity at their annual retreat in the Mt. Carmel Retreat Center in Hoschton Ga. Here she had prepared a wonderful set of talks and activities exploring communication issues from a Franciscan approach. (Jerry likes to say he ‘drives the bus and hauls boxes’, but he also leads some singing and activities in these retreats.)  Jerry also was honored to help Fr. Roy Lee do an evening retreat with music fitted to a celebration and exploration of the Mass.

The last weekend included Cricket teaching a day of reflection for the Conyers fraternity where she is Spiritual Advisor, and this went so well they stayed for hours after it was finished!

November began with Jerry getting to do something he also loves---solo jazz! Our parish had a thank you dinner for their stewardship donors and our Pastor had asked that Jerry do some ‘james taylor and such’ as background for the party. Jerry keeps threatening to do a church songs in jazz cd! 

For perhaps the fourth or fifth year, we were honored to serve the annual retreat for the Blairsville Ga secular Franciscans, and there was much prayer and laughter and service as always! You can tell from the crowded nature of the picture, this group likes fellowship!  


Cricket had led a Women’s Day of Reflection in the Spring in North Ga, and two attendees asked us to do a day of reflection and a parish mission at their beautiful church, St. Mark’s of Clarkesville, Ga. The mission is in Lent of ’14, but the day of reflection was with a wonderful prayer group that met regularly with up to 75 parishioners to deepen their experience and service in the Year of Faith!

Our next edition of this will include some new efforts we will be making in 2014! Thanks again for your prayers and support, and May God Bless you and yours this Advent/Christmas season!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Summer 2013!


We were blessed to serve St. Michael's in Garden City, SC last weekend. Mary Ellen DeKleva and the Blessed Jon Duns Scotus fraternity hosted us for a day of reflection on Mary and the Year of Faith. Both fraternity members and guests attended. "Brother Salad" Frank Kane not only put us up (or put up with us) for the night before, but determined that he and I are related through his grandmother's family!                                               The day began with Mass celebrate by Fr. Carlo, inviting the parishioners to attend. Cricket then led the group, with some musical moments by Jerry, through 3 moments in Mary's faith. This was done through 4 Scriptures and reflections.
There is also interaction in everything we do, and I've always thought the teaching and wisdom shared among participants is an essential part of the blessings of the day!

'Brother Salad', our good friend Frank Kane, told us some of the beautiful story of the stained glass at St. Michaels! visit their site for this story? http://www.saintmichaelsc.org/church/sections/view/about

We finished a wonderful day with a benediction of the Blessed Sacrament led by Deacon Don, who I believe was professed as a secular Franciscan in 1977! I don't have permission to share many of the other names and stories, but there is always a special blessing when so many 'hang around' long after and share that they were 'absolutely supposed to be here today!"


Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring of the Year of Faith!

Mrs Therese Chamblee (and hubby Michael) with Chris and Jim Bullock, brought us back to our 80's roots in Brown County In, St Agnes Parish! Cricket taught some spirituality and healthy cooking the night before! (sorry, I have no pictures---they were having too much fun and I was visiting my mama in Indy)
Cricket then led a highly interactive day of reflection called "Our Call To Holiness"---this was an interdenominational group of women and a wonderful spirit filled day.
After playing with good friends at the weekend masses, Jerry gave a Prayer Concert Sunday evening with a wonderful group of folks not only there, but many joining in the singing! Cricket led 3 short reflections from her book, Talitha Kumi.

Long time friends and musicians from our days at the Catholic Youth Camp in brown county --(we're talking the 1960's now thank you very much; we were all counselors and Cricket was a cook!)-- John Hannan on wonderful guitar and Joe Miller giving beautiful help on the piano---and vocals!
"when the rain falls, I will see it as your mercy, from your hands..."
the banjo helps with a tune I wrote while driving across the Midwest---"I get lost, found, and a few small repairs....on a road of prayer."
The whole church sang with us on a song John and I sang at each others' weddings 4 decades ago...."No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that Rock I'm clinging....
Below, our evening ended with a rousing "Lights of the City" (this is a St. Agnes Easter tradition! sometimes even accompanied by women dancing in the back!) led by John Aumage (to my right), Jonathan Bolte, Jn Hannan, Angie Aumage, Cricket, and Joe Miller. I played the banjo to this Michael Murphy (remember Wildfire?) Spiritual + and went to the back just to hear this heavenly body giving Easter praise to the Light of the World!

We were so blessed to be there again and especially thank our sound engineer Rich Drew, and the Chamblees and Bullocks for hosting us!



Monday, April 1, 2013

He Is Risen! Easter 2013

I must begin this post thanking all of you for your prayers of support! Michelle and her team would probably not want me to print their names, but a group of prayer warriors are now meeting weekly to pray that our minsitry continues to serve in grace and good health! We cannot express what this means to us!    May God bless you!                               We spent Holy Week mostly in our home Parish of Holy Trinity, where we had led a 3 day mission during Lent. It was so great to have had such good attendance by people who had seen us there for many years, but turned out to pray and interact and support! For those of you who ask, our themes were:
Monday night: the Gift of our Union With Christ
Tuesday night: a Deeper look at prayer, fasting  and almsgiving
Wednesday night: Thy Will be done---the truth that sets us free.
The music and sharing and teaching was well received, and we were blessed to be 'back home'.
 During Lent we also travelled to SC to serve a Secular Franciscan Fraternity and Parish of St Mary, Help of Christians. We arrived for a Friday night session following the youth presenting a Living Stations of the Cross. They did a marvelous job and the room was so reverent!I did dare to take one picture seen below, but it was clear this youth group were giving their best to this Lenten tradition! We followed with some prayer and music, and Cricket had done extensive research on the prayers of St. Bridget of Sweden.

This is where he teaching began on friday night, and then continued thru Saturday.
Again, several of our long time friends and supporters came, even from far away, to celebrate Mass both days and attend the Retreat. But we met many new people as well.

 Bernie and Ann did such a wonderful job with their franciscan fraterntiy to host us and promote the retreat as "an experience in prayer, reflection and song contemplating Christ's own revelations to Saint Bridget of Sweden for a deeper awareness of the passion of the Christ and the immensity of his love for us."  Val and Gina and Carole were such wonderful servants to the group and to us.
Just after Ash Wednesday, Jerry gave a short concert and teaching at St. Thomas More parish in Mooresville Indiana. Father Mark Gottemoeller, the Pastor, Maureen, Kathy and their team persisted in wanting to serve the parish with "Seeking God's Wisdom". They hoped to follow the initial session with a series of Catholic Teaching DVD's for their adults and young people, and then return together for more of a "mission event" but to keep it sustained over a longer time.
 Jerry is continuing to teach and Cricket continues to be an approved Spiritual Director for the Atlanta Archdiocesan Deacon Formation Program. As in the past, Jerry is teaching on the New Evangelization.  He also continues to travel to visit his Mother in Marquette Manor where she continues to believe there will be bridge playing in heaven!

We have also begun to map out a new initiative for our ministry and will be writing to all of our 'address book' about this journey onward! May God Bless you and yours, and thank you again for all of your support!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Year of Faith and the Mountains!

A view of Hiawassee and the Appalachian Trail
We celebrated our Christmas with most of the family in a new place for the first time in over 2 decades. As we transition out of our home in Atlanta, we have been blessed to house and pet-sit for a wonderful secular Franciscan friend, Marie. We even sang as a family at the Christmas weekend masses at St Francis of Assisi in Blairsville GA.
Our Year of Faith teaching and music presentations have now been requested 8 times at different parishes and events. Jerry is teaching for the Archdiocesan Diaconate Program again, and spent a great deal of time with them on the Porta Fideii Document establishing this Year of Faith. Cricket had also done of lot of praying and writing on this season, and her reflections and steps to deepening this experience have been extremely well received.



Our first parish mission this year was full of blessings. We travelled to St Catherine of Sienna in Fr. Thomas KY. At least 2 years ago, our now best friend Mary Buten heard us introduce a parish mission in Atlanta (at Mass). She heard a little music and a few minutes of what we were doing there, and felt led to recommend us to her beautiful parish! She even housed us in her non-wifi house so we didn’t have to stay in the motorhome in January!
We arrived to Saturday vigil mass and a parish dinner welcoming us and initiating the Mission. This welcome was unlike any we had ever received. I wish I had taken a hundred pictures, but when you are in the midst of all this kindness, it never seemed right to interrupt it with posing! After the Sunday masses, the faith formation team had arranged a tour of the Stained Glass Art and theology of the Cathedral by Monsignor William Cleves, (who had just published a wonderful book about it). The depth of the beauty and detail amazed us as Father, without notes, pointed out inspirations available every time we meditated on these touching works of art.
The mission ran for three nights on different aspects of deepening our experience of the Year of Faith, and was very well attended though the temperatures were in the single digits. Fr. Steph is the Pastor, a gifted shepherd and homilist who also holds a doctorate in vocal performance. He joined us also as families hosted us for dinner each night just before the mission. We simply felt we were longstanding members of the parish family, though we had just arrived! We were also asked to speak to both the CCD program and the Catholic School middle and high school classes about the Year of Faith. They also responded with enthusiasm and hospitality!
Cricket + I + the Metzner family listen to daughter and gifted musician Bethany play a Rachmaninov piece before dinner!
Fr. John Koziol, OFM Conv opens the session with Prayer after the Celebration of Mass.

Later in the month, we were blessed to return to St. Philip Benizi for a parish retreat. This also was on the Year of Faith, and the tables teemed with folks from other parishes as well seeking to grow in the gift of this season. Prayer was led after Mass by Pastor Fr. John, OFM, who then stayed. He told me that he had much to do, but he also needed to be fed; and if he weren’t, his work would not be what wanted it to be. There was also a moving testimonial from a new member of the parish who is seeking political asylum for his family after converting to Christianity in a strictly Moslem country. There was singing and teaching and sharing in this beautiful Franciscan parish we have been blessed by for so many years! We look forward to returning!
Cricket and Jerry lead an interactive part of the Year of Faith and Growing In Holiness presentation.