On the Road

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. For those of you that are looking at the name of that city and not knowing how to pronounce it, you would be like me thinking it’s “too ee lee”. I quickly found out that the pronunciation of the town name is an indicator that the locals use to identify outsiders. Father Ken, pastor of St. Marguerite’s, was quick to help me learn the correct pronunciation which is “too will ah”.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to feel like the “odd man out” for long.

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. In His revelations to St. Marguerite, Jesus usually appeared to her as the Crucified or the “Ecce Homo” (the reference to words of Pilate as he presented Jesus to the Jews, “Behold the Man”).

Although not part of the planned execution of the event, Father Ken happened to be seated with a lector’s stand in front of him for that part of the program readings, leaving him somewhat hidden from the view of the congregation. It seemed like the voice of Jesus was filling the church without a physical reader. For the first reading it definitely got the attention of the folks in attendance.

This event had lots of additional elements that were interesting. I was caught by surprise and held fast in awe as the parish pianist took the time to approach our violinist to engage in prayer before the event began. Now that’s faith in action.

The program was delivered in both English and Spanish and we were assisted in reading the meditations by two young women for the translated versions. They did a tremendous job. As I looked across the congregation during the readings, I could see a number of people (men and women alike) with tears flowing.

Father Ken took time at the end of the event to convey a truly unique and special blessing on Jean and me. He invoked the Holy Spirit to bless us in our ministry and provide all of the spiritual protection necessary to continue in our travels and to use the merits of our efforts to bring the message of Christ’s Passion to many as an instrument to bless our respective family members for generations to come. I have to admit that I was brought to tears in those moments, as I tried to absorb the scope of the blessings he was asking the Holy Spirit to bring upon us.

Knights of Columbus State Officers, Billie Sandoval and John Valdez, were not only responsible for all the work to help us organize this event, they were also on hand to help us unload, set up, pack up and reload our equipment. Father Ken had disappeared for a few minutes and reappeared in a sweatshirt. We almost didn’t recognize who he was for a moment or two. Father Ken jumped right in, literally, getting into the back of our SUV to pull in all the heavier pieces, positioning them so that everything fit. That’s an example of a priest that ministers to the people and is happy to join in with the people when there’s physical work to be done. When he asked, “Who gets up into the back when someone like me isn’t available?”, I enjoyed the look on his face when I said, “We do.” I think he just couldn’t envision these two older women jumping in and out of the back of an SUV with skirts and suit jackets.

This event was truly filled with blessings of every type at every turn. Although each seemed to exceed the other as they unfolded, I think the greatest blessing was in the meeting of those in attendance and all those that supported the event, sharing the work, sharing the stories, sharing gifts, and even more importantly, sharing in the graces that seemed to abound among us.