On the Road

​ Who’s on First?

Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, May 29, 2017

Our dinner was just about to be served on Thursday, May 25 when I received a phone call. “Where are you? said the voice on the other end.” Having recognized the voice as that of Dave Ryan, Knights of Columbus coordinator for the Las Vegas events, I replied, “No worries Dave, we’ll be there before 4:30”, thinking the event began at 6:00. His panicked voice replied, “The event starts at 4:00.” We simply asked the waitress to pack our food to go and hustled to the car. We raced to get to the church. We arrived to find just a few scattered cars in the lot and it seemed like the church was closed. I called Dave and left a message asking where they were. Several minutes later he returned the call. He neglected to inform us that the schedule for the Thursday and Friday evening events had been switched. That should be no problem - just drive to the other church, right? I saw the look on my brother’s face and he says, “It will take us at least half an hour to get across to the west side of Las Vegas.” So much for a 4:00 start! With traffic, we got to the the Church of Christ the King around 5:00.

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Who Tipped the Waitress?

Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, May 29, 2017

The generosity and commitment of the members of the local Knights of Columbus we have the privilege of working with on these tours is exemplary. They insisted on taking us out for an early dinner just before our next event in Las Vegas on Friday, May 26. They were dressed in their tuxes (part of their formal regalia), complete with the jewels of their officer ranking. Although we were all formally dressed for the event, the waitress was understandably fascinated with their attire. She had a bubbly personality, exhibiting the roots of her upbringing in Georgia. She asked if they were part of the Masons. The sir knights were quick to set that straight and we joined in to explain what it is we do. She seemed very interested, and although she isn’t Catholic, she asked where we were heading. We gave her general directions and timing information and thought that would be the end of it, since she was quick to follow-up with a reply, saying she had other commitments after work. However, as we were getting into the car, she came running out to the parking lot and knocked on the window asking for a specific address to put into her GPS in case she had the opportunity to attend.

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In Solidarity for Life and Family

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Knights of Columbus is widely know for its stand in support of life and activities that strengthen Catholic families in their prayer lives. On Saturday, May 20 at St. Ambrose Church in Salt Lake City, we joined in solidarity with the Knights of Columbus by dedicating our presentation of “Call from the Crucified Heart” to honor life and family. This group of Catholic gentlemen is so supportive of our program it was a true gift for us to have the opportunity to share in a combined effort to promote two core messages for our respective apostolic initiatives. The relics were processed into the church by the Knights of Columbus Color Guard along with the icon which symbolizes their most current marian program supporting family and the culture of life. We were joined by Father Andrzej Skrzypiec (although he prefers to be called Father Andrew), the pastor of St. Ambrose Church. I was particularly touched by his reading of Jesus’ words from the cross. Although Father had a somewhat thick accent attesting to his Polish heritage, he had a melodic voice that seemed captivating in his readings.

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You’re Never too Old for Blessings

Written by: Denise Serafini on Sunday, May 28, 2017

This was an exceptionally well attended event with lots of families. Jean was quick to pick up on one family that included a mother, aged 100 years and her daughters, one of which was 75. People often share their story with Jean as she is handing them holy cards at the start of the veneration line. Jean stepped forward to escort this special family through the line taking time to provide added explanations for each relic as they traced through the path to Calvary one more time. Once they completed the process that woman thanked Jean and said, “I would never have believed that I could have an opportunity like this in all my life” and obviously she’s been blessed with a long one. This woman seemed healthy enough to continue to be an example for he faith and a blessing to many for years to come. There were blessings everywhere at this event. The presentation we do is a sort of once in a lifetime opportunity. We present relics that the faithful might never get to see, but more importantly we provide a context for approaching those relics that allows them to commemorate the events of Calvary in the presence of those relics. However, there are blessings that seem to emerge from every facet of these events that are in the personal experiences and manifestation of Christ’s love in the Holy Spirit. Those blessings are significant elements in the encounter with His Passion as well as in the interactions of the faithful. This event was a demonstration of the overall experience that the Holy Spirit makes available for each person. Supporting supplications from St. Joseph and St. George were probably responsible for adding to the enhanced experience. The parting comments from the 100-year old woman were a reflection of what we were all feeling. May each of us be blessed to appreciate the blessings that come our way regardless of how old we are.

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​Skipping for Joy

Written by: Denise Serafini on Saturday, May 27, 2017

On Friday, May 19, the Church of St. Andrew the Apostle hosted “Call from the Crucified Heart.” This church shares space with its school gymnasium. It seems they take down the altar and reposition the chairs for each transition between Holy Mass and school-related events. The Knights of Columbus members have and will continue to take on this responsibility until a formal church can be built. What an overwhelming commitment they make to assure that the space can be shared. As a matter of fact, we waited patiently in the hallways for the completion of the graduation ceremony in the same space just before our presentation. True to their reputation across all of Utah, the knights helped us get our equipment in place in short order so we could still begin on time. We had the participation of Deacon Duane Padilla and two translators for the Spanish version of the meditations. They each executed on their roles perfectly. We had a full choir with keyboard and violin to round out the overall presentation. Both Jean and I were amazed at the number of families with children in attendance. This was a very engaged congregation and as it turns out we even had representation from the Mormon Tabernacle (Utah is, after all, Mormon country). The bishop was asking lots of questions as he passed through the veneration line. We welcomed him with open arms and joined with their Catholic friend to help explain the circumstances relative to each of the artifacts in our collection. There must have been a communication that went out or perhaps it was simply word of mouth that prompted so many people to bring bundles of sacramental items to touch to the relics. People had bags full of pictures, crucifixes, medals, statues, etc. to touch to the relics and they seemed to have a true excitement in presenting them.

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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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