On the Road

Embraced in the Cloister

Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, May 19, 2017

Have you ever been to a cloistered convent? We were invited to share the Relics of the Passion and our little presentation with a group of cloistered Carmelite nuns in Salt Lake City on Thursday, May 18. What an experience! It so happened that we had a cancellation in our original schedule, leaving us with an open day. Sister Therese found out about us from Angela, a woman from one of the parishes on our schedule. Sister Therese called Tom, President of our Apostolate, shortly after our arrival in Utah. She was so excited about the possibility for us to make a stop at her convent that she quickly scoped out our website and wanted to tie down the details as quickly as possible. Being part of a cloistered community, these holy women would not be able to attend a public event and this type of opportunity doesn’t come their way very often. Tom relayed the message to me and I called Sister Therese to make arrangements for the added stop. We couldn’t have been more honored and pleased to fill the gap in the agenda with a visit to the Carmelite Monastery. Although Angela may have thought she was the genesis for the idea, we have often seen St. Joseph take over to guide us to places and individuals we would never have known about. We can’t thank Angela enough for being an instrument of St. Joseph in setting a wonderful series of events in motion.

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You Never Know Who Might Be Watching

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, May 18, 2017

We made our way to St. Francis of Assisi Church in Orem Utah for a presentation on May 17. The exterior of the church has a typical mission style. However, it is a relatively new building with an exceptionally large church. The interior of the main church has significant murals that depict various scenes with a theme depicting man’s spiritual journey to seek God. The main painting is richly decorated with imagery and symbols that allude to scripture and Catholic traditions. The altarpiece presents a huge cross surrounded by people representing different historical time periods, different cultures, races, genders and ages, each at a different stage in his or her own journey. Some, like the business man in the lower right corner are having difficulties. Others, such as the woman nearest the cross, seem serene and at peace. The cross, suspended slightly above the painting, is clearly the focal point. I inquired about it and learned that the corpus is 8 feet tall from head to foot, hand carved and hand painted. The cross is of wood, and is 16 feet long. There are seven amazingly beautiful Italian-made statues, depicting Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Blessed Mother with a group of children, the Sacred Heart, St. Joseph, St. Francis, and Mother Frances Cabrini, the patron saint of immigrants to the United States. These statues fit into the niches along the walls of the church. The one thing I’ve observed about Italian-made statuary is that they have beautiful faces and the way the eyes are done has the effect of making the object seem like it’s looking directly at you.

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A Church Filled with Warriors for the Faith

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Knights of Columbus Color Guard is such a significant element in our presentations. They bring an element of ceremony to these events that demonstrates their commitment to the faith. Very much like St. Thomas More, they are a hallmark for standing up for solid Catholic principles. The Knights of Columbus is especially noted for their efforts to promote the sanctity of life from conception to natural death. St. Thomas More is remembered in the Church as a man of tremendous integrity. The basis for his sainthood is ascribed to his martyrdom for opposing King Henry VIII’s separation from the Catholic Church. More refused to acknowledge Henry as Supreme Head of the Church of England and the annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. More was convicted of treason and beheaded. More ascended the scaffold on July 6, 1535, joking to his executioners to help him up the scaffold, but that he would see himself down. He is also reported to have said: "I die the King's good servant, but God's first." According to David Hume, author of “The History of England”, another comment he is believed to have made to the executioner is that his beard was completely innocent of any crime, and did not deserve the axe; he then positioned his beard so that it would not be harmed. His beard became the outward sign of his dignity and integrity. So too do I see the regalia of the color guard as a demonstration of the dignity and integrity each of these sir knights hopes to achieve as exemplars of exceptional Catholic manhood.

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Imitating St. Joseph the Worker

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Beginning in the Book of Genesis, the dignity of human work has long been celebrated as a participation in the creative work of God. By work, humankind both fulfills the command found in Genesis to care for the earth (Gn 2:15) and to be productive in their labors. We presented “Call from the Crucified Heart” at a church in West Jordan named in honor of St. Joseph the Worker on Monday, May 16 while on tour in Utah. I have to say the parish ministers, parishioners and ministries at St. Joseph the Worker Church are a testament to celebrating the dignity and holiness of human work as an element of the creative work of God. Deacon Sunday, that’s his real name, was on hand to help support the program with exposition of the Holy Eucharist for the meditative portion of the event. The music ministry was by far one of the best we’ve seen in our many presentations across the country. We witnessed a well-engaged group of Knights of Columbus Color Guard that not only helped present the relics but also took the opportunity to explain the nature of each relic during the veneration, explaining elements of the Passion to enhance the faithful’s encounter with the Crucified Christ. I also noted that there were many families with children in attendance, attesting to the great Catholic parents engaged in guiding and educating their children in the story that forms the very foundation of our faith.

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It’s all in God’s Plan

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Sunday, May 15 was Mother’s Day. With all the family events being held that day there were only a few attendees at this event. Sometimes God’s plans are not aligned with what we are expecting at the moment and that was certainly the case here. As always, God had a very special plan for this event. What came to pass was a very intimate presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” that was intensely special for each of the individuals that did attend. Each person had their unique story and it was interesting to see the hand of God touch each of these individuals. While it’s always wonderful to have overwhelming attendance at these events, having one that demonstrates the intimate relationship God wants to have with each of us was just as significant and truly remarkable.

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Blessings, Gifts and Grace Abounding

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, May 16, 2017

We engaged in a presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” on the 100th Anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima and the canonization of Saints Jacinta and Francisco on May 13 at St. Marguerite Church in Tooele, Utah. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima was prominently displayed in the front of the church with fresh flowers, including Casablanca lilies that emitted a wonderful fragrance. In her hands, Our Lady had a scapular and a small blue rosary. That rosary ended up being a gift that was presented to me at the end of the event. It seems it was hand made by Servant of God Maria Esperanza, a Venezuelan mystic. She made that rosary while visiting friends in Tooele. What a blessing. Father Kenneth Vialpando, pastor of the parish of St. Marguerite of Alacoque, presided over the event. He did a tremendous job of reading the messages from Jesus on the Cross that are part of the theme for this year’s program. That theme is totally aligned to the story of St. Marguerite, who was chosen by Christ to arouse the Church to a realization of the love of God symbolized by the heart of Jesus.

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St. Joseph Welcomes us to Utah

Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, May 15, 2017

St. Joseph always makes his participation with us known. It so happened that our first event here in Utah was at St. Joseph’s Church in Ogden. Not only that, the name of the priest that presided over the event was, you guessed it, Father Joseph, the Parochial Vicar for the parish. This church, unlike many of the churches we visit out west, is a very traditional church with a beautiful sanctuary and stained glass windows. Since that architecture is consistent with most of the churches we have our east, it was like coming into one of our home town churches. The size of the church gave us plenty of room to display all 8 of our backdrops, something we can do in only a few churches we visit. We did the program in Spanish and English and Father Joseph did the standard prayers as well as the “Call from the Crucified Heart” which provides thoughts from Jesus from various scenes in the Passion. The faithful in attendance seemed to have been very touched. There was a sizable crowd and veneration went on for quite some time. That always tells me that the people really take the time to engage in prayer with Jesus using each relic in logical succession along the way to Calvary and beyond. We are very thankful to St. Joseph for leading us to yet another parish of faith filled individuals seeking to deepen their relationship with Jesus and His Mother in His Passion. We know this event will set the tone for all the ensuing presentations we do here in Utah.

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The Gifts of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, May 05, 2017

We had a full day of activities on tap for the scheduled event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Waterbury, CT on April 11. This church has had us make an encore visit every Tuesday of Holy Week for 5 years running thanks to Sister Georgia Wright, SSC who is consistently helping to engage the members of her parish in faith formation. Sister Georgia recently had a health issue that would prevent her from attending the event so we decided to take the event to her at the rehabilitation facility where she is currently being cared for and treated. The nurses assembled Sister Georgia along with other residents and staff at the facility to participate in our program. We brought our music ministry and finished the program just in time to travel to the church for an on-time arrival. Sister Georgia couldn’t have been more grateful. She was rather down when she realized that she wouldn’t be able to coordinate and participate in the activities of Holy Week at the church. Having a personal presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” seemed to fill that gap for her and gave her the consolation of having participated in at least one formal spiritual event during Holy Week. We offered the prayers for the evening’s event at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in petition for Sister Georgia’s speedy recovery and return to her role in organizing their parish events and activities. The event at the church was simply wonderful. Father Frederick Aniello and Deacon Ernie Pagliaro joined us as part of the event and I have to say that Deacon Ernie’s reading of Jesus’s words to us from the various scenes in His Passion were heart rending.

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Connecting the Dots

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, May 04, 2017

We began our 2017 season with a private presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” at the Church of St. Thomas, for a special apostolate, the Legion of Mary. Because this year marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions at Fatima, we thought it fitting to kick off the year’s activities with a group that is centered on Marian prayer. To make it special we customized the prayers within the presentation to align them with the philosophies, prayers and quotes of Venerable Edel Quinn. Her lifetime focus on the Holy Eucharist and the rosary provided a perfect parallel for the context of our theme for 2017. As we were setting up the parish pastor, Father Hellwig, happened to come by and asked about what we were doing, concerned by the amount of equipment we were bring in. Like many priests that we work with, he thought that the Legion of Mary was simply having a few relics brought in for veneration. We chatted for a few minutes, sharing the elements that make up our presentation and he insisted that we plan for a return event that would include his entire parish. We couldn’t have been more pleased to accommodate his request and scheduled an event for Palm Sunday, April 9, a most significant day for meditating on the Passion of Christ.

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A Prayer for Steadfast Faith

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, May 03, 2017

We made our way back from our tour in Michigan to assure we would be back in time for a presentation at St. Brigid’s Church in our home state on April 7. Fathers Crowley and Dawson joined us and we had a full contingent of Knights of Columbus Color Guard. St. Brigid’s Church is an old city neighborhood parish in West Hartford that was built well before there was a real need for parking lots. They have a small circular drive to drop folks off before setting out in search of parking somewhere on a side street or on the busy main thoroughfare where it’s located. My first thought was that very few people would attend this event and I even mentioned that to one of the folks helping me set up. Much to my surprise, however, people braved the rainy evening and found parking as necessary to join us and we had a pretty well filled church. Just before the event started, the person I made that comment to gave me a little zing with one of Jesus' strongest admonitions to his disciples, “o ye of little faith.” Somehow I think that St. Brigid’s dedication to the Cross may have been one of the interceding factors for making that happen in this fine church dedicated in her honor. I don’t think she ever doubted the power God has to draw in his people to Him.

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