Monday, August 23, 2010

Varsity Catholic in the news!!

Please read about the good news that FOCUS and Varsity Catholic are doing in the community!

God Bless!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Almost a week in

I can't believe that I have been in New Jersey for only a week, it's strange for me to say that it has felt like it has been a lot longer than that! And I mean that in a good way.

I arrived last Saturday around 4:30pm eastern. The drive was nice, except going through Chicago, I could not find it within me to enjoy the 96 degree heat in bumper to bumper traffic with no air conditioning. But after that it was pretty smooth, I stopped at Notre Dame with me teammate Anthony, we walked around campus but could not get in the chapel because there was a wedding. From there we drove to Pittsburgh and spent the night with a fellow FOCUS missionary. It was neat driving into Pittsburgh at night, for whatever reason the football stadium lights were on and it lit up a good portion of the city, my favorite was the light up Heinz Ketchup bottle being poured out on the side of a building. Anthony and I left Pittsburgh at about 10am. I really enjoyed the drive through Pennsylvania going through tunnels beneath some mountain ranges, very beautiful.

Once we were in New Jersey we had less than an hour to South Orange, my immediate thought was surprised at how green it was. For whatever reason I was envisioning more of a city type of place, but after all New Jersey is the Garden State.

We arrived at our home in South Orange, New Jersey, Ora Manor, campus housing about a mile off campus. It's a two bedroom apartment with a bathroom, kitchen, and a living room. I spent most of Saturday unpacking and getting settled in to my new room. Sunday my 5 teammates and I went to mass at a church just a few blocks away. After that we did some shopping for things we did not have in the apartment and for food.

On Monday myself and the two other new staff members got a campus tour. Campus is very nice, everything is close and it is a beautiful campus. We were introduced to the RAs and the rest of the housing staff. We have a beautiful chapel on campus which I will be sharing a picture of in a future post.

Tuesday was interesting, we went to New York City, my first time in the big city. We took a train to New York (the train station is about 4 blocks from our apartment) from there we jumped on the subway and ended up at Central Park. We walked around there for a bit and then went to the Frick Art Museum. Then we wandered down past the Trump Towers and the Rockefeller Center. We saw CBS and NBC Studios and Radio City Music Hall. We went to mass at St. Patrick's which is located right in the heart of the city, only about a block from the places I just mentioned. Then we met up with some fellow missionaries that live in the city and we grabbed a slice of pizza at Fat Sal's. From there we stopped by young adult bible study of sorts where we discussed Catholic Christian dating and relationships.

Wednesday morning my Varsity Catholic teammate, Melissa Stadelman and I started to meet with coaches. There are 14 varsity sports at Seton Hall, and on Wednesday we met with 2, the men's and women's golf coaches. They were both excited to welcome us and happy to give us access to their teams.

And that's life in the big city for now! Some of the students involved with FOCUS arrive Monday afternoon, all students move in next Thursday, and school starts on the 31st.

Please keep my teammates Teddy, Anthony, Rosabel, Katie, Melissa, and I in your prayers at the beginning of this school year. That we will trust in the Lord, that He will give us the words to speak, and that we would be fearless in sharing the gospel with the students at Seton Hall University.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

1 week Away

This last week it has really begun to sink in that I am about to leave not only Wisconsin but the midwest, which has led me to a lot of reflecting. Reflecting just on my life and how much my life has changed in the past few years.

This past Wednesday and Thursday night I had the privilege of chaperoning 7th & 8th graders at St. William's Catholic Church in Waukesha. The students were staying over night in church classrooms while they were at a service and outreach camp, during the day the students helped some Waukesha residents with some painting and cleaning.

St. William's is the church that I grew up in, where I was baptized, received my first Eucharist, and was confirmed. I have attended daily mass there throughout the summer and due to roof construction on the main part of the church, daily masses have been moved to what is now the Parish Hall, the space that used to be the church, which is where I was baptized (and where my parents were married!). So for most of this summer I've really appreciated how neat it has been for me to experience Christ and grow in my faith now in a place where my spiritual journey began over 24 years ago.

Something happened to me Wednesday night that made me appreciate this much more. Just before the students were going to bed we had a short devotion time. St. William's also serves as an elementary school so there are over 20 classrooms in the building, most of which were added when I was in high school. I didn't go to St. William's for elementary school but I did go there for Sunday school and a good chunk of those 20 classrooms were built when I was in high school. So of all the classrooms that we went to, we went to the one where I remember having one of my very first Sunday school classes in, I'm talking back to kindergarten or 1st grade. Before I went into the room I peaked in the classroom across the hall and the director of youth ministry asked me if anything looked different, I just laughed and thought about how long it has been since I had been in this hallway and how much it really has not changed.

After the devotion some of the kids showed me the room that I would be staying in. The same room that I taught 4 year old Sunday school in while I was a junior and senior in high school, seriously of all the rooms! I'm not sure why but before I walked down the hallway I got a little choked up. I was thinking about how much I used to hate going to Sunday school or Christian formation classes as a student, or why on earth I would ever want to teach a Sunday school class or go to Sunday mass while I was in high school. I thought about how much I got away from my faith during my first few years of college and finally I thought about where I am today and how thankful I am for Jesus completely turning my life upside down these past few years and making me realize how great life can be when you really try to surrender all to Him.

And now in 7 days I will be in New Jersey, the eve of another school year. Figuring out how I will reach out to students that might have had the same experience that I did or maybe even to someone who has never even heard the name Jesus Christ. And my experience this past week will push me to be bold, to not be shy, and to share Christ with others, because without all of the loving support I had at St. William's, if I had not heard the name of Christ........where would I be?

Thank you St. William's for being a disciple of Christ and a place that truly has shown His love. St. William of Vercelli pray for us, I love you Jesus, Amen.