Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My friend the New Jersey Packer fan

Last fall I really had to work to watch the Packers play, if they weren't a national broadcast that meant I had to find an establishment to watch the game. There are plenty of places in New York (only about 1/2 hour away) to watch the games, but travel and food/beverage are so much more expensive there! So a good friend told me about a website: So I checked it out and there are 11 listed in New Jersey. I googled them to see how far away they were and called one up and asked if they'd have the game on that Sunday and they assured me that they would. The first game I went to was the game on September 19th against the Bills. I went wearing my Rodgers jersey and Packer hat proudly and grabbed a seat right at the bar. Just before kick off this big dude sits next to me, probably mid 50's, long hair down half of his back. Turns to me and introduces himself, "Name's Fitz". We went on to have a long conversation, not much attention was needed on the game as the Pack handedly beat the Bills 34-7. He told me how he makes a yearly trip to Lambeau for a game with a group of friends from out here. I told him that I was from WI and that I was working at Seton Hall. And when I left Fitz told me that I needed to check out this pizza place a few blocks away on Washington Street called "La Sicilia".

A few weeks went by before I made it back, but my buddy Fitz was there when I finally made it back. The last game I watched at the bar was the loss to Atlanta in week 12. But this time I got his address and sent him my Christmas newsletter. I was in WI from December 15th-January 17th. When I got back to New Jersey I had a stack of Christmas cards and one was from Fitz.

Last week I mailed him the latest edition of my newsletter. I included a comment on the newsletter to him congratulating him on the Super Bowl win. Today I had a package waiting for me in the mailbox. I saw the writing and looked at the return address, I was surprised to see Fitz's name. I'll quickly add that while I was in WI for the Super Bowl I saw a game program on sale for $15, I passed, but it was hard and I was hoping that somehow one would fall into my hands. Well I opened the package and guess what? A Super Bowl XLV program indeed fell into my hands!!! I was pretty excited! The program was accompanied with a 2.5 page letter from Fitz explaining how he acquired the program.

He said he has a brother that lives north of Boston in Massachusetts. His kids (Fitz's nieces and nephews) were playing outside and kicked a soccer ball into the neighbors yard. The neighborhood kids affectionately referred to this neighbor as "Mr. Spooky" and Fitz's brother had not spoken to the guy in over 10 years! Well the neighbor showed up at Fitz's brother's front door with the soccer ball. He stepped in the house and said, "Packer fan, hey?" The two ended up chatting over an "Irish Coffee". Before the neighbor left he told Fitz's brother that he owns a company that prints the programs for the Super Bowl and gave him some information on how to get as many programs as he would like for free, he would only have to pay for shipping. Fitz sent his brother a list of people. After handing out all the programs he requested, Fitz was left with one and wasn't sure what to do with it. Fitz said this is when my newsletter arrived and he said that he knew that program was meant for me! On top of this nice gesture Fitz commended me for the work that I'm doing and asked me to pray for his son who is having a tough time with graduate school in Michigan. And the PS said "I hope to see you for some games in the fall and I hope you've checked out La Sicilia on Washington!" Thanks Fitz.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Blessed Aloysious Stepinac

2 months ago while I was volunteering with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal I met a couple that was also volunteering. I came to learn that the woman was a teacher at a Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY and I shared with her that I was a FOCUS missionary. I told her that any time she needs help with something to please ask me and I would do my best to round up some fellow missionaries. I offered this thinking how great it would be for high school boys to see young men passionately living out and continuously pursuing their Catholic faith.

About a month ago that teacher took me up on that offer and asked if I could get a few men to come and talk to the high schoolers about being a true man of faith and using the example of Blessed Aloysious Stepinac. I will give a brief history of Archbishop Stepinac, but really he is a story worth researching. Basically, Archbishop Stepinac stood strong for what he believed when many around him did not. He was Croatian and a very young Archbishop (under 40 years old). A man of great virtue who courageously stood up to the Nazis and willingly sacrificed his life for our Lord and His Church. Today, February 9th is Archbishop Stepinac's Feast Day and it was celebrated at the high school of his namesake. I was blessed to have taken a small part in it.

Today I teamed up with a Franciscan Friar, Brother Pius, and we spoke to three groups of young men and in all about 100 ranging from sophomores to seniors about living virtuously as Blessed Stepinac did. We mostly spoke on the culture today and how it lies to young men. Lies to them by saying that masculinity is defined by how much money you have, how successful you are in athletics, and how many women you can have sex with. Which is hard to deny that our culture does glorify these things. We talked about how the athletic achievements and pre-marital sexual pleasures will lose their appeal and meaning with time, but the Love of the Father is everlasting and for over 2000 years has stood the test of time. We shared with them how virtue has always outlasted promiscuity and disobedience.

I never knew the severity of the decisions I made with girls when I was growing up, I saw friends doing it and I thought those things were OK to do, no one told me it was wrong, no one told me how much this was disrespecting the Lord. I pray that the young men today took our words to heart and will strive to love the girls and women in their lives and not use them for sexual pleasure. And to do so not because Brother and I said so, but because the Will of the Lord calls them and all men to do so. Not because it is some rule that some old man told us to do, but because doing so will protect and guard the hearts of men and women and that the act of sex will be shared, given as a gift from male to female and female to male to consummate a marriage.

The celebration ended beautifully in the gym. What I believe was the entire student body was gathered there for Eucharistic Adoration. The CFR's were leading worship and set the mood to welcome Jesus. Shortly after Jesus entered and was present in the Blessed Sacrament, boys slowly exited the gym (while others remained) to go to confession. Clearly the prayers of Archbishop Stepinac and grace of our Lord were at work.

Blessed Aloysious Stepinac.............Pray for us.