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.