Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dear Owen

Last Saturday night ( 1 week ago) a 6 month old baby was rushed to the hospital when he stopped breathing, his name is Owen. Owen is a triplet and has one older brother. I joined in prayer with probably thousands of people last week for this little guy and his family. On Monday or Tuesday his family learned that Owen had about a 2% chance of recovery. During the week someone shared with Owen's mother that the name Owen means "Little warrior". And Owen sure was this last week. I had the chance to visit Owen this last Tuesday, it was one of the saddest things I've ever witnessed. It's sad to see anyone connected to all those machines in the hospital and tubes going into someones nose, but you never want to see that on a child. I prayed for Owen while I touched his fingers and then as visitor's hours ended all the visitor's in the room prayed together, it was beautiful and full of hope, we begged God for the life of this child.

It was Thursday evening that Owen finally did leave this world. During the week Owen's mother (whose blog can be found here: created an email address for Owen. I emailed him. I really believed there would be a miracle. As Owen's mother pointed out most of the week, there was just not for Owen. Owen donated his heart and kidneys amongst a few other organs. The following is what I wrote to Owen......

Dear Owen,

You probably don't remember me, I only met you once, I think I held you and fed you.....but that might have been one of your brothers ;) One thing is for sure you smiled at me, because I remember you and your brothers all smiled at me that day, you're all so cute.

I want to tell you a story Owen. Today I planned on going to a men's group at 6:30am and then mass at 8am, well, I slept until 9:20, so that didn't quite work out for me. So I decided to go to mass at 11am at Holy Hill, Our Lady Help of Christians Shrine. I got there early and I prayed for you in a side chapel. When I entered the main chapel just before 11 there were many more people there than there usually are for a daily mass. There was also a longer procession of priests than usual for daily mass, usually there is one, today there were 4. Then the priest told us that today was a special day. He said that today is the feast day of Our Lady Help of Chrisitans. I became very happy because I did not know it was today and what a perfect place to be on her feast day, the Shrine of Our Lady Help of Christians!

The Gospel reading today was from John chapter 2, the Wedding at Cana where Mary goes to Jesus on behalf of the people and says "They have no wine" she didn't say we or us, but they. Owen, Mary is constantly helping us to follow Jesus. She goes to Jesus everyday with the little things that we need (things that we do not often recognize). Certainly Mary has been with you and asked her Son for your protection. And just like when Mary asked Jesus for a miracle at Cana, may she ask him for a miracle for you.

After the Gospel reading the preacher went on to tell about all the miracles that have happened at Holy Hill since it opened in 1863. He told of a boy that was blind receive his sight, another boy who was healed of being deaf, several instances of people being cured of cancer, and a woman with a lung disease who was cured by our Lord this last Christmas. He told us how the late Blessed Pope John Paul II used to pray the rosary as young boy at the foot of a statue of Our Lady Help of Christians. Today I did the same for you. Kneeling just outside of the altar and at the foot of a statue of Our Lady Help of Christians I prayed the rosary for you Owen, for a miracle. Take peace in knowing that Jesus nor His Mother has left your side since Saturday. I want to share a few prayers with you:

Stay with me Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. Stay with me Lord, because I am weak and I need all Your strength that I may not fall so often. Stay with me Lord, for You are my life and without You I am without fervor. Stay with me Lord, for You are my light and without You I am in darkness. Stay with me Lord, to show me Your will. Stay with me Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You. Stay with me Lord, for I desire to love You very much and always be in Your company. Stay with me Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You. Stay with me Lord, as poor as my soul is I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of Love.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protections, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to the do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Stay strong Owen, you are blessed. Our Lady Help of Christians, pray for us. God Bless you.


Please join me in praying for Owen and strength for his family.

Owen, rest in peace, you are greatly missed.

Monday, May 23, 2011

May 22

On a recent blog post I said that I was going to share why May 22nd was a special day for me. It turned out to be a little less special in my earthly eyes, but I know in the world to come and that right now God has used it in a way I can't imagine.

On August 22, 2010 I started praying for, I adopted an unborn child through prayer. That day in August was the first day that I prayed this prayer (and have prayed for the last 9 months):

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion."

Here is the rest of the text on the prayer card that I used:
To help stop the anti-life push in the world the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen encouraged the spiritual adoption of an unborn child. This is done by praying that one particular but unknown child's life be spared abortion and be allowed to continue to live. To help accomplish this, it was recommended, an individual say the following daily prayer for a period of nine months.

The name I wish to give my baby is:_________. During your earthly life this spiritually adopted child of yours will be known only to God but in the world to come it is hoped that you will meet the souls of your prayers saved and spend eternal happiness with them.

Jesus may your peace and your love embrace the hearts, minds, and souls of the family, friends, and loved ones who encourage this abortion and lead them all to your sacred and Eucharistic heart.

A beautiful prayer, that I have loved to pray over the last 9 months. But this last weekend, on a day that I should have been rejoicing, I found it hard to pray for anything other than a 6 month old baby boy named Owen. Owen has been given a 2% chance to live. He stopped breathing on Saturday night and even lost his heartbeat for a short time. After some tests were run it was found that Owen had no brain activity. The next few days a lot will be determined. Please pray that decisions will not have to be made and that a miracle will happen. Please pray to our Lord that Owen will recover. Please pray for the intercession and prayers of our brothers and sisters in heaven, especially to Blessed Pope John Paul II who had a very special affection for youth while he was on earth. Pray for a miracle.

Owen, you are loved so much. Keep fighting and find strength in the prayers going up for you. We love you.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Pirate I haven't met yet

It has been such a blessed and wonderful year at Seton Hall. It’s hard to believe that so much time has gone by since I arrived in August. As I’ve shared on this blog and in the Garcia Gazette a large number of men on the baseball team at Seton Hall have committed themselves to a weekly Bible study and deepening their own personal faith in Jesus Christ. These men have also helped me to take my own faith and trust in Jesus much deeper than it was 9 months ago. As the year ends, it’s bittersweet. 2 of the men I have gotten to know this last year are seniors and will not be back in the fall. That will certainly be a change for our Bible study as one of the men was always more than willing to share his thoughts during Bible study, appropriately he is the catcher. The other guy and I spent some time together outside of Bible study and it was often at daily mass or during a meal. Both men are great leaders and will be missed greatly by their teammates, coaches, and Bible study leader. (If they win today they’ll advance to the Big East Tournament for the first time in 3 years!)

Throughout the year I was impressed with all of the young men in Bible study. They asked great questions that challenged me and often made points that I did not realize myself. Often we would talk about prayer and intercession. Most often the person(s) I would call on the intercession of or ask the guys to ask for the intercession of was Mary, our Mother, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati (the Bible study’s adopted patron), and Blessed Pope John Paul II. As we talked about intercession, which basically means asking another for their prayers for you to God, the guys questioned it, looking to understand better. Some thought it seemed strange to ask someone who is no longer living to pray for you. I explained it’s really no different than asking someone on earth to pray for you and wouldn’t you want someone in Heaven, with our Savior and His Father to pray for you?

Often when we talked about this the guys told me about David Bachner, a young man who was supposed to be a teammate of theirs but unexpectedly passed away a few weeks before his first day of college. I thought about him time to time throughout the year and especially when the guys would bring him up, which happened at least half a dozen times.

Admittedly, I had forgotten about him until I took the pictures included in the blog. I took a picture that I wanted to include in my newsletters. Then the guys asked if they could take one to send to Mrs. Bachner. So all the sophomores; David’s classmates, took a picture with David’s shirt. I posted them on Facebook on May 7th, thinking nothing of it. Later that day one of the guys on the team “tagged” his teammates and Mrs. Bachner in the picture. Later that evening, Mrs. Bachner sent me a friend request and sent me a message. The message said; “AJ, the pictures could not have come at a more perfect time…….missing David so much on mother’s day.” My heart sank and I had a lump in my throat.

As I became friends with Mrs. Bachner I learned about a cause that was created to help remember David. It’s called “Unhittable Across the Globe”. There is a photo album of people wearing an “Unhittable” shirt literally around the world. I wanted to help bring “Unhittable” to new locations and help David’s memory last. I learned that David was truly “unhittable” when he was on the mound. His mother told me, “David was a one of a kind kid ... He was smart, so very witty ... and one of the best lefty pitchers the CVC had seen. David broke all school records ... State of New Jersey records ... he was being scouted by pros ... such class on the mound ... he had a strut like no other. When David pitched ... no one could hit him ... he would either strike you out or walk you. So all David's newspaper articles would read No-No Bachner ... Unhittable” She also told me that Seton Hall was David’s dream.

There are so many things that really impress me about this. One being the guys on the team that knew him, most of them only met him for a few hours and in that short amount of time the guys grew so close to him. They met and spent time together only at their freshmen orientation during the summer. A few of the guys knew him a bit more personally, one played against him in high school and another really hit it off with him and hung out more after orientation. Another guy who could not attend orientation but was assigned to live with David got in touch with David to go golfing to meet each other before they moved in together. They were supposed to go golfing on August 8, 2009, which turned out to be David’s last day here on earth. It wasn’t until the next morning that David’s roommate found out David had passed the day before.

I have been in touch with Mrs. Bachner since mother’s day trying to figure out how I could I get a shirt. This last Thursday night I met with the baseball team for our last Bible study of the school year. We decided to call Mrs. Bachner and invite her to the game today. She happily accepted the invitation and was looking forward to seeing the boys. Unfortunately this morning she contacted me and told me she could not make it, but for a very good reason. Today at David’s alma mater they’re playing against their rival school and they’re honoring David. Go North. She apologized and said, “Good luck today!! Lucky “16” will be with you!”

I’m pretty sure the guys believe David is with them too, they still keep a #16 shirt in the dugout. David, you’re remembered by your teammates at Seton Hall and I’m looking forward to the day that we do meet. Go Pirates!

Rest in peace David Bachner #16 Unihittable

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Great article and coming soon........

Here is a link to an article about me and the ministry I've been involved with since August. Thank you Waukesha Freeman for this great article, especially to Dave, the writer. The article online did not include an important bit of information, but it is in the print edition. There will be an event with a concert on June 18th at Crabby Joe's in downtown Waukesha from 4-6:30. I will be thanking my mission supporters with some food and drink, I'll share some stories from my first year at Seton Hall, and there will be a performance by Tony Memmel and band!

Also, in the next few days I will be writing a couple of posts. One about a young man that has really inspired me lately and one about why May 22nd is a day of significance.

Until then VERSO L'ALTO

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

In what could we find greater joy?

This past weekend on Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday I attended mass at Seton Hall University. At the 8pm mass we celebrated the Sacraments of initiation to the Church. 2 people were baptized, 4-6 were received into the Church, and 8-10 were Confirmed and received Eucharist or First Holy Communion for the first time.

As usual it was a beautiful celebration, but something struck me at this mass and celebration that I haven't noticed in awhile or that I may never have thought about before. As I watched the individuals receive Communion for the first time, I can remember 2 people especially whose faces lit up with absolute joy and excitement. It forced me to smile and my eyes filled with tears. And then I thought to myself, what is my reaction when I receive Eucharist, when I receive Jesus? The more I thought about it the more I realized that it was not the joy and excitement that I just witnessed others experiencing. Why shouldn't every time we receive be like the first time?

Not to say that I take receiving Communion for granted, because I don't, I celebrate each time that I receive Jesus. But I thought, could I, or should I receive Him with more joy? Compared to receiving Jesus is there a more peaceful or joyful thing that we could ever do!!?!? I've come to the conclusion of no.

In the past few weeks I have become more and more interested in the life of the late Great Blessed Pope John Paul II. So I looked to a few of his thoughts on the Eucharist.

"The Eucharist is also a great call to conversion. We know that it is an invitation to the banquet; that, by nourishing ourselves on the Eucharist, we receive in it the body and blood of Christ, under the appearances of bread and wine. Precisely because of this invitation, the Eucharist is and remains the call to conversion. If we receive it as such a call, such an invitation, it brings forth in us its proper fruits. It transforms our lives. It makes us a "new man", a "new creature" (Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:15; 2 Cor. 5:17). It helps us not to be "overcome by evil, but to overcome evil by good" (Rom. 12:21). The Eucharist helps love to triumph in us -- love over hatred, zeal over indifference." Homily in Dublin's Phoenix Park 9/29/1979


"From the Eucharist springs the Church's mission and capacity to offer her specific contribution to the human family. The Eucharist effectively transmits Christ's parting gift to the world: "Peace I give you, my peace I leave you" (John 14:27). The Eucharist is the sacrament of Christ's "peace" because it is the memorial of the salvific redemptive sacrifice of the cross. The Eucharist is the sacrament of victory over the divisions that flow from personal sin and collective selfishness. Therefore, the Eucharistic community is called to be a model and instrument of a reconciled humanity. In the Christian community there can be no division, no discrimination, no separation among those who break the bread of life around the one altar of sacrifice." Homily at Seoul, South Korea 10/18/1988

I know that the next several times that I receive the Eucharist I will be thinking more about what it means and how I receive it. Please join me in doing the same and may the experience of receiving the Eucharist be transformational and may we all truly experience Christ's peace. What could be more joyful?