Monday, May 30, 2011

Time to catch up...

Hey friends, it's time to catch up on all the stuff that's been going on with me in the last month!

Mission Mini Marathon: Accomplished!

With the grace of perseverence in my training, I was able to participate in and complete my first half-marathon on May 7th. I began the weekend in a somber way, with the funeral of my friend Edgar. Then I was honored to server at the Mass for Vocations at St. John's in downtown Indy. I carb-loaded at the Race for Vocations pasta dinner, stressed about where we would park Saturday morning, and went to bed way too late.

Nonetheless, I felt great Saturday morning and even though my plans for parking didn't work out and it took forever (it seemed) to get to a Port-a-John before the race started, I made it to my starting corral and was even able to start the race with a few fellow Race-for-Vocations runners. I ran a conservative race and finished in 2:11, about a 10 min/mile pace. As you can see by the post-race picture, I had something left in the tank. Next year (and I mean that!), I plan on running in well under two hours.

Mission: Semester Completion - Accomplished!

It was "no rest for the weary" as I was immediately back to the seminary after the Mini to finish up the final week of the semester. I had papers to write and finals to take, and then I had to move completely out of my room, all in seven days. My Trinity final provided the most daunting challenge as I endured a monumental spiritual battle the entire day. Satan felt it necessary to taunt me all day long, saying "You can't do this." when I knew I could. It took just about all that I had to get through it, but with God's grace I completed it and the rest of my work in time to get moved out.

Saying goodbye is difficult and I find that with the whirlwind of activity at the end of each semester that I never do it well. I just hope that all of the guys know that I will miss them and that I pray for them regularly.

Mission: Chillax - Accomplished!

After getting moved out of the seminary, I spent a few days in Carmel visiting friends and then made my way up to J-town to hang with my family for a week. I did get some definite relaxing in, but also spent a lot of time running around and taking care of maintainance things for my car.

Two of my friends from high school, Joe and Jake, and spent the better part of a day at the National Restaraunt Association trade show at the McCormick place in Chicago. Imagine walking around a convention center, and doing nothing but sampling different gormet foods all day and you get an idea of what it was like, and why it was worth the price of admission.

The best part, however, was spending time with my parents, sisters, and niece and nephew. The kiddos have grown not only to remember me, but to miss me when I'm gone and so it is always a special treat for them and for me when I can visit.

Mission: Ordination - Counting down...

After returning from J-town, I moved into my summer parish in Anderson, IN. I will be helping Fr. Bob at both St. Mary's and St. Ambrose parishes this summer. I spent a couple of days getting settled in, then promptly jetted off to Cincinnati to witness the final oath of my classmates, Aaron and Crispine, in the Glenmary Home Missioners. It was a beautiful ceremony and as a bonus, I got to see some of the folks from the seminary and give them a proper goodbye.

Now, the countdown is in full swing. I have five days until ordination day and I plan on taking a lot of time to pray and to reflect on this journey so that I am prepared to participate fully and consciously in the ordination. Thank you to all who have prayed so generously for me throughout these past five years. Please continue to pray for me and my brothers who will be ordained with me, Travis Stephens and Sam Futrals, as we make our final preparations to be ordained this coming Saturday (June 4th).

Look for a post soon after!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I have competed well...

... and in a little more than two days, I will "finish the race" (II Timothy 4:7) when I participate in the 2011 Race for Vocations. For those of you who have been praying with me, now is the time to re-double our prayers!
As I review the details for the big day, anxiety begins to stir in my stomach. There will be over 35,000 runners/walkers on the streets of downtown Indianapolis this Saturday. That is going to be an overwhelming feeling! I will be proud to be one of the "elect" who will be wearing the "Vocation: everybody's got one. What's yours?" shirt and proving that with faith we can overcome our worldly obstacles and achieve the greatness that God has destined us for.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 5, I will celebrate the one-year anniversary of being declared to be in full-remission from cancer. I can't think of a better way to celebrate God's gift of life to me than by offering the culmination of the last four months of training to Him and by finishing this race for His glory and for grace for all of those who are discerning His will for their lives.
Thank you for all of your prayerful support so far. Let us finish strong! Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, pray for us! Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us! Verso l'alto!

Monday, May 2, 2011

In Memoriam

Edgar and I in November 2009

This morning, a good friend of mine, Edgar Hartzler, died. I don't have the details yet of what caused his death. All I know is that at breakfast this morning at Saint Augustine's home in Indianapolis he fell very ill and was taken immediately to Saint Vincent's hospital where he died around 10:30 a.m. EDT. He was 78 years old.

I had known Ed since 2004 when I first started visiting him as part of the Community Caring organization. I volunteered with them and Marcia Brown (then its director) paired me up with Ed. It was the first time I had ever volunteered to have one-on-one interaction with someone in need and it was Ed's first time to have a "little brother" of sorts. It was equally awkward for each of us and so it worked out pretty well.

We both got past that initial awkwardness and became fast friends. Over the years, Edgar and I would share many wonderful memories: visits to the zoo, museums, baseball games, and nights out for dinner. We had some stressful and difficult times, and our relationship had been particularly strained since I had entered the seminary since my studies and duties in the diocese left me with little time to spend with him. Nevertheless, he remained a true friend to the end.

One of my greatest joys was to see him come into full communion with the Catholic Church in 2009. It had been a long journey of faith for him and I believe he counted it as one of the most important events of his life. I was honored to serve the Easter Vigil mass that welcomed him into the Church.

I last saw Ed a week and a half ago, on Wednesday of Holy Week. We talked about my trip to Rome last January and about the plans for him to be at my ordination to the diaconate in June. He wanted nothing more than to be there for my ordination. I suppose now, he won't have to worry so much about those plans.

While the news came as a shock today - it was certainly unexpected - I guess in a way I had been preparing for this to happen for some time. I knew his health had been deteriorating significantly over the past few years and that in reality something could happen at any time. Today was that day. I pray that God has looked upon him with mercy and received him lovingly into heaven.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him...

P.S. His funeral will be this Friday, May 6th at 11:00 a.m. EDT at Saint Augustine's Home for the Aged on 86th Street in Indianapolis.