On the Road

This One's For You

Written by: Denise Serafini on Monday, November 27, 2017

On 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.

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The Testimonies Say It All

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, November 16, 2017

We 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.

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Reflections of the Father’s Love

Written by: Denise Serafini on Thursday, June 08, 2017

On Wednesday, June 7th we presented our program to the parishioners of St Pius X Church in Aurora, Colorado. We were greeted by Vladimir, the pastor’s assistant, an accommodating and helpful young man. He was very quick to assist us in getting all of our equipment into the church and want to be as much a part of the process as possible since he knew he would have to leave for assigned duties shortly after the the program was set to begin. Jean was quick to engage him in setting the relics onto the pedestals and allowing him to have a private time to venerate before the parishioners arrived. He was most grateful to have had the time to take a group of holy cards and touch them to each relic as he reverently approached them. While I was giving directions to the sir knights for the processional and presentation of the relics, Father Jorge joined us to discuss his role in the program. What a congenial and welcoming priest with a broad smile and engaging personality. He was considerate of his parishioners and asked if we could have a slightly delayed start to accommodate late arriving individuals that are part of working families. As he expected, parishioners filed in throughout the meditative portion of the program.

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Called to Imitate the Disciples

Written by: Denise Serafini on Wednesday, June 07, 2017

This is the second time we have been invited to come to the St. Vincent de Paul church in Denver. It was our inaugural event for our Year of Mercy Tour in 2016. The theme last year was Celebrating Mercy and of course this year we have the Call from the Crucified Heart, highlighting Jesus’ words to us from the cross and Mary’s role as she accompanied Jesus to Calvary. Titus Conwell, the sir knight that helped us with this year’s tour, was someone we had met on our previous visit. We had a little lull in the stream of the faithful that were coming in for veneration and Titus was the one that lead us in the rosary. Titus was one knight that stood out for us because of his demonstration as a truly prayerful individual. You could tell he prayed the rosary often by the way the recitation of the mysteries, decades and followup prayers flowed off his tongue. Titus brought the icon of the Holy Family along for this event that we might offer our prayers in support of the culture of life. The dedication was made during the introduction. The mission of this parish is to “Go and make disciples” (Mt. 28:19), and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to build the Kingdom of God. In our presentation this year, we highlight the relic of the Holy Apostles, encouraging the faithful to recognize that we are all called to discipleship. We are called as the disciples were to be examples of the faith. We are also called to step out in support of the principles of our faith on issues of life, marriage and family. Like the Apostles we are also inspired by the Holy Spirit, although it may not be as obvious as it was for them at Pentecost. The fire of the Holy Spirit comes upon us in terms of inspiration to be witnesses of His love, joy and mercy in our works of kindness and service to our fellow man.

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​Celebrating Pentecost in the Cathedral

Written by: Denise Serafini on Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Our first event in Colorado occurred in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver on Saturday, June 3. After we unloaded and set up the majority of our equipment, we had the privilege of attending the Anticipated Mass in celebration of the great feast of Pentecost. In Father John Kirby’s commentary of June 4th, he notes, “As the Spirit came upon Mary and the apostles over two thousand years ago, the Church was born into her mission. And the Holy Spirit still comes among believers today, and among all men and women of every people and creed. The Spirit continues to labor among all people seeking to show us the face of mercy and love and to guide us along the true path of reconciliation and peace.” These are the gifts embodied in the overall mystery of salvation which is the fulfillment of the birth. life and ultimate crucifixion of Our Messiah. The Apostles are charged with he propagation of the Word. Like the apostles, we are also called to be disciples in Christ as examples of the faith in our actions, enlightened by the Holy Spirit to be God’s reflection of His love and mercy.

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Witnesses of Faith

Written by: Denise Serafini on Saturday, June 03, 2017

​We arrived at St. James the Apostle Church on Tuesday, May 30 immediately after our tour of the Pregnancy Services Center. This church is in an extremely poor section of Las Vegas and the priest that presided over the event was Fr. James Michael Jankowski. Father Jim, as he is more familiarly known, was very accommodating and had a great voice for the reading of Jesus’ words to us from the various scenes in His Passion. Joining us for the event was a Syrian family that had driven from California to Las Vegas specifically to attend this event. It’s at least a three-hour ride. This family was there to pray, not only for themselves, a family displaced from their war-torn country, but also for all those that they had to leave behind, in the danger, fear and desolation that is currently plaguing their homeland. These people have a first hand appreciation for their faith and what it means to be persecuted for their beliefs. They were victimized while they were in Syria and had to bear the host of unknowns associated with being brought to a country with which they are totally unfamiliar, and take on the challenges of resettlement here. Because they had arrived early we had the opportunity to chat with them before the event began. Jean talked with them even more than I did to gain a first hand understanding of the challenges they face. The mother, who speaks fluent English, told how the rosary was her only source of hope to deal with the trials of assuring that she, her husband and two sons would be brought to safety.

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​ 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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