Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, May 22, 2020Thoughts from the staff of the Apostolate for Holy Relics regarding the Corona Virus issues we are all facing.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, November 27, 2017On August 4th we had the privilege of presenting to a sizable group of priests and seminarians, men that have answered the call, as the Apostles did, to commit their lives in the service of Christ. Each of these men heard the call on a personal level, summoning them to God’s service in a way that is probably similar to what Leviticus 20:26 says, “I have separated you from other people, that you should be Mine.” Father Jeff Gubbiotti, Director for Vocations at the Archdiocese of Hartford, invited us to present “Call from the Crucified Heart” with customized prayers for the priests and seminarians from the dioceses of Hartford and Norwich, in celebration of the feast of St. John Vianney. We had worked with Father Gubbiotti in advance on a program that not only included the customized prayers for priests, it was enhanced to incorporate his personal relic of St. John Vianney and highlight the wisdom of the patron saint of the priesthood with a short homily. I had also received a call from an about-to-be grandmother asking for prayer for a baby still in the womb. I asked Father Gubbiotti if he wouldn’t mind allowing members of the lay faithful attend. He agreed and we made the event details public and sent a special invitation for the family, noting that Father Gubbiotti would conclude the event by joining the priests and seminarians together in healing prayer for the child. The program began with the dedication of our prayers joined to the merits of Christ’s Passion for the support and benefit of our priests and seminarians as well as for Baby O’Rourke.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, November 19, 2017Taking the tour at Trinity Heights Shrine was similar to getting treated like a queen for a day. When I arrived at the main building, I was greeted by Terry Hegarty, Executive Director at Trinity Heights Shrine, and Connie Funk, one of the Shrine trustees. They arranged to take me on the tour via golf cart. It was a truly hot day and they wanted to be sure I got to take in every aspect of the shrine in a way that would maximize the experience while minimizing any potential for heat exhaustion. What a treat! Not only was I escorted in comfort, I had the best guides to provide historical information and details I would otherwise never have been privy to. Trinity Heights offers more than two dozen shrines, memorial garden spots and quiet corners for prayer and reflection amidst 14 acres of spacious walkways and soft green spaces. These peaceful grounds, which were the former sites for Trinity College and high school provide a peaceful setting to stroll, pray and reflect. The shrine is bound on either end by two statues of more than 30 feet, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Queen of Peace and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Each of these statues are visible from any point you visit within the shrine. As we were going from shrine to shrine, Terry told the story of how he came to be associated with the Trinity Heights. It seems he was a UPS driver and he would take time on his lunch break every day to say a rosary near the grounds that were slowly being built up to create this oasis of peace dedicated to the Trinity and Our Lady. There must have been something special in those prayers Terry offered up on a daily basis since years later Terry ended up in his role as Shrine Director.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, November 16, 2017We received a special invitation from Trinity Heights Shrine in Sioux City, Iowa to help them provide a special event that would close a series they were doing on the rosary. They were ending with the Sorrowful Mysteries and wanted to have our program as a culminating element for a multi-week prayer initiative that spanned the last weeks of June and early weeks of July. Because the event was expected to draw a larger crowd than could be managed effectively at the shrine, the organizers decided that we should hold the event at St. Michael’s Church (linked with Holy Cross Parish) which is located just a short distance from the shrine. The program was adjusted to accommodate the diocesan preferences for rosary before our event with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The pastor, Father David Hemann, presided over the event along with Father Peter Nguyen and two of the parish deacons. We had individuals that were pre-selected to process the relics into the church and hold them for veneration.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Friday, November 10, 2017On my way to Sioux City, Iowa I stopped at a shrine in St. John, Indiana. The timing just happened to work out so that I could stop and still be on time for my arrival in Sioux City. I had seen a billboard advertising the Shrine of Christ’s Passion on the highway as we passed through on a few previous trips but never made the time to stop. As you can imagine, curiosity got the best of me and this time I simply had to make the 35-mile detour. When I arrived I was disappointed because I couldn’t see anything but a huge gift shop. There didn't seem to be anything that looked like an entry way to a shrine. The one thing I could see was a 33-foot statue of Our Lady of the New Millennium off to the far right of the gift shop. I went into the store anyway and asked how to get to the shrine. I was directed through to the furthest end of the gift shop to an exit door that brings you on the path of Christ’s Passion. At each station along the half-mile pathway there is a kiosk located nearby. Press the button and the short meditation you hear makes you feel as if you are among the crowd walking to Calvary with Jesus. The meditation includes a scriptural quote describing the scenario. What’s next is the critical element that makes a difference. The narrator challenges us about our sins and their corresponding effect on Christ's suffering.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, November 09, 2017We spend lots of time working with representatives of the Knights of Columbus and they are each exceptional in some way, however we had the privilege of working with one sir knight that was just remarkable. Titus Conwell was the main coordinating entity for Color Guard support for our entire tour of Colorado. Titus is a broad and formidable man with a loving heart. Everything he does, regardless of the problems that arise in execution of the task associated with his role, reflects his love of the Lord. You can tell that he does everything in his life with an eye towards assuring God’s greater glory. He always has a bounding smile and gentle voice and, as we discovered, a way of praying from the heart that touches anyone that has had the privilege of praying with him. All of his efforts in support of our activities came to a close with our stop at St. Gabriel Church in Colorado Springs on June 11.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, November 01, 2017We had no idea what to expect when we were told of the phenomenon that occurs in the Sangre de Cristo Valley. It appears that the Spanish explorer Antonio Valverde y Cosio named the Sangre de Cristo ("Blood of Christ") mountains after being impressed by the reddish hue of the snowy peaks. As the entire mountain range surrounding the valley turns red, so also do you see the red reflection in the surrounding rivers and small bodies of water. It’s an amazing sight to behold. Jean and I got to experience this phenomenon as we were leaving the Church of the Precious Blood after our event for the evening on the 9th. The setting sun pervaded the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with an ethereally red hue. While we were driving I could only think of the Mercy of Christ in His Passion and consider the way I felt wrapped in it as we made our way through the valley. For a little more than 20 minutes we got to bask in the awesome nature of what the Creator has wrought.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, October 30, 2017This parish was comprised of the most warm-hearted and wonderful people. Although we didn’t have live music, the program played out with total solemnity and with the benefit of a group of sir knights in attendance. The faithful joined in with our recordings for the musical interludes. When it came time to pack up there was one woman that stayed along with Isaac, Nathan and their mother, the family that arranged the last minute visit to this church. This woman had issues with arthritis that was notably evident in her hands. Most of her fingers were gnarled and locked in place. She insisted on helping us to take down all of our equipment and get it repacked into our SUV. I tried to assure her that we are used to the process and she could simply stand by as we packed and chat with us while we worked. She persisted and I was humbled by the way she worked so diligently regardless of the pain it must have caused her. When we were done she tried to slip away without notice and I had to chase after her so that she might allow me to thank her.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, October 26, 2017Jessica is a bubbly gal that happened to be our waitress at Mrs. Rios restaurant in San Luis, Colorado where we were scheduled for an event at the Sangre de Cristo (Precious Blood of Christ) Church on June 9th. Jessica was a gregarious sort, with braided and pinned up blond hair, going about her day’s work in mukluk boots and shorts - amazing to us since the heat seemed almost overwhelming for Jean and I. We asked her about the significance of the cross on the hillside on the other side of the road and how we might be able to get to it. We had tried when we first arrived in town, but could find no entry point. Jessica informed us that, even though she lived in the town for most of her life, she only recently found the road that leads to the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross. She gave us directions to access the shrine which was a few miles up the road and we confirmed with her that we would have enough time to get to it and still be on time for our event later that evening. We finished lunch and decided we would try to find the driveway into that shrine on top of the hill. We finally spotted the little sign and found ourselves on a winding dirt road. As we rode along we were leaving a heavy trail of red clay dust in our wake. About 3 or 4 miles in, we found the shrine and parked relatively close to the magnificent adobe Capilla at the top of the mesa.
Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, October 26, 2017Since June I have not been writing my travel blog entries as I have in the past. Why? Most of the reason is that I certainly don’t think of myself as some “real” writer. I truly thought I must be boring folks. I even thought that if people were reading, they were reading just to make me feel good and I was convinced that I should eliminate the blog from our website. As it turns out, it seems it’s all about their involvement in our events, not mine. Melina, my daughter, once said, “Oh, you mean it’s not all about me?” I am just a normal everyday person without any of the earmarks of some with the prolific gift of the pen that can expound on great thoughts. I just relate what I’m thinking and experiencing while I’m on the road. Real writing takes talent and a sense of ingenuity and I arrived just as that gift train was leaving the station. However, it seems that there are lots of individuals that like to join us in our travels on a virtual basis, even if it is just my personal reflections. So in the interest of putting to rest all of the interesting thoughts folks have had and shared with me regarding why I stopped writing, and their hope that I resume publishing my thoughts on the various places we visit, I have decided to begin anew and every few days I will post one of the many blog entries that I wrote but never shared.