Friday, October 28, 2016

Seeing in a New Way

Friday greetings.

As I prepare to present the parish mission at St. John's Cathedral in Milwaukee this weekend, I have been thinking more and more about baptism and all the things that have happened this week.

Several years ago, while I was still a parishioner at Saint James Parish here in Chicago and part of the RCIA team, I spoke with one of the people that was to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It was Holy Saturday morning and we had just finished the preparation rites. I looked into the eyes of Brendan, a twenty-something brilliant engineering student, and said, "You know, Brendan, tomorrow morning when you wake up and you open your eyes, the world is going to look a lot different." With a kind of child-like innocence, he looked at me and said, "Really? Why?"

And I responded, "Because tonight, at the moment of your baptism, we are all going to sing an acclamation. The words are 'You have put on Christ, in him you have been baptized.' And from that moment on, because you have put on Christ, you will see the world with the eyes of Christ. And when you do that you will begin noticing and seeing things you have never noticed or seen before. Things will look different to you and will call forth a different kind of response from your mind and heart."

Brendan kind of looked at me quizzically.

A few weeks later, he caught me after Mass and said, "Jerry, remember that thing you told me about a few weeks ago? The thing about seeing the world differently?" "Yes," I said. "Well," Brendan went on, "I think it's slowly starting to happen." We both just smiled.

With all that has gone on this week, from prisons to refugees, I have this sense that it's happening all over again for me, too.

Please pray for the parishioners of the Cathedral in Milwaukee, that this parish mission will help them see in a new way as well.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

We Were Sitting with the Realities of this Harsh World, Staring Us Right in the Face

Thursday greetings.

Last evening, three of us from WLP, Michele, Jennifer and I, went to visit our refugee family, who several weeks ago were settled in an apartment here in Chicago.

When we first met this family of three, they had just arrived in the United States and they radiated such joy and happiness. None of us knew what they had lived through before fleeing Afghanistan, nor what their lives had been like in India the past four years as they awaited their eventual approval to become refugees in the United States.

Last night Michele brought a long woolen cape for the mom, as well as two pairs of gloves and a scarf. Despite the fact that it was in the 40's here and raining, these folks were very lightly clad and wore open-toed shoes and sandals. You would not have believed the look of sheer delight on both the mom's and dad's faces when they saw the coat. Michele helped her put the cape on and it fit perfectly. It was as if we had given her the world.

The dad told us that he had been to the hospital that day and received four vaccinations. Each member of the family will need at least ten shots. Whatever shots he received that day caused him to become extremely cold, so he was wrapped up in a blanket the entire time we were there. And I noticed it was one of the blankets that WLP had provided for the family.

He then began to talk with us about how different the United States is. He told us that where they lived in India shopkeepers, drivers, attendants at the zoo all charged them twice what they charged the Indians. They had lived, for four years, in a small room, with a curtain dividing the room in half. Their current apartment, they told us, is just way too big for them; they are just not used to such large living quarters. He talked about meeting a local pastor, "Pastor Bob," in a store just by chance. Pastor Bob's son was holding an iron that they were about to purchase and our dad asked where he might find one to buy. Pastor Bob asked if he needed an iron and paid for an iron for our dad. They have since become connected and our family is apparently connected to this Christian community now.

Once he had returned from the hospital that afternoon, he told us, he and his wife had gotten into an argument. She was complaining that she had no coat and it was so cold outside. He looked right at us and said that he prayed to God for a coat for his wife and that, because of us, God had answered his prayer. I don't know how else to describe what I saw emanating from these peoples' eyes but to say that it is the light of faith, hope, and love.

He told us that he is deathly afraid of drinking the water from the tap here in the United States. They had been spending precious money to purchase bottled water. We explained where the water came from in Chicago (Lake Michigan) and how it gets cleaned and purified and that we all drink it freely and without any concern. He seemed very relieved.

Folks, all of what we experienced last night was about the most basic stuff of life, like clothing, water, bread, meat, shoes, umbrellas, an iron.

When we asked about their daughter, who had decided not to come out of her room at all, a look I can only describe as a distant sadness came over the Dad's face. He told us he couldn't tell us the whole story, but that something had happened with his daughter and the Taliban and that she is affected at least twice a day. She keeps asking to be brought into the city, to see downtown Chicago.

For me, this was so much of what we hear on the news staring us right in the face. These were real flesh and blood people. Michele told them that we were all brothers and sisters. There was such a part of me that felt so helpless.

So, Michele, Jennifer and I decided that we need to meet this morning to talk about next steps. The dad is already talking about taking courses here (he was a physician in Afghanistan) to be able to be certified to do some simple medical or technical procedures like administering electrocardiograms or ultrasounds. We know that they are being helped by at least two other organizations. There is much that we here at WLP cannot do for them, but I am haunted by the timeliness of what Pope Francis said in Saint Peter's Square just yesterday. "Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs."

That's what we are pledging to do here.

The flowers Michele had given this family on the night of their arrival in the United States still stood in the vase. They are now all brown and withered. I refuse to let our welcome wither and fade. So much to do.

When we left them last night we pledged prayers for one another. I looked at dad and mom and all I could say was "God is good." "Yes, yes, God is good," he replied.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Continuing to Shelter the Homeless

Shelter the Homeless.

Following up on yesterday's post, I wanted to share with you another way that another corporal work of mercy is unfolding here at WLP. Over the past several months we have been working with Exodus World Service to help settle a refugee family here in the United States, You can read about our efforts thus far here and here.

Just today, in Saint Peter's Square, Pope Francis focused his remarks on the works of mercy:

"In our own day, the growing influx of refugees fleeing war, famine and dire poverty is a summons to welcome and care for these brothers and sisters. Like so many committed Christians who have gone before us, such as Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, we need to find generous and creative ways of meeting their immediate needs."

The USCCB's web site has a section on the corporal works of mercy. Beneath the work "Shelter the Homeless" is this description.

"There are millions of children and families who are on the move, fleeing from war, illness, hunger and impossible living conditions, and searching for peace and safety. Engage parish groups of children, youth, young adults, and families in doing some research on the causes and challenges that these families face to survive. Contact Catholic Social Services, or diocesan offices of peace and justice for help with your research. Seek ways to provide shelter for the homeless locally, regionally, nationally or internationally."

Tonight after work, three of us from WLP will be visiting the family we have helped resettle here in the Unites States. This photo was taken moments after the family arrived in Chicago several weeks ago.

They have since been settled into an apartment here in Chicago. Tonight, we'll go to see how they are doing and to assess the needs they may have as the weather turns colder.

I was thinking about resettlement a lot lately, trying to figure out what it must be like. The only personal experience I have come up with pales in comparison to what refugee families like this go through.

When I left the seminary in 1984, there was part of me that just wanted to flee Boston. It was a very very difficult time in my life. No one in my family had ever moved any farther away than a few miles. I packed everything I owned in my tiny Toyota Corolla and fled to Orlando. It tore my heart apart to do so, but I knew I had to forge a new life for myself. I will never forget the many people, including some aunts and uncles who had retired to Florida, who provided a new home for me in a strange land. It lessened the pain and anxiety I felt.

I hope that what we have done in the past few months and what we will do tonight will somehow do for this family what so many people did for me to make this stranger feel welcome in a strange land.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Catholic Publishing: Changing Hearts

Tuesday greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park, Illinois.

I just wanted to share a little bit of what happens on the margins (or perhaps not on the margins) in Catholic publishing today. We receive lots of feedback from our customers and from parishes that use our worship resources and pastoral, spiritual, and art books. Some of those comments are complaints, suggestions for improvement, and gladly, more often than not, words of gratitude for what we do to fulfill our mission "to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church."

A few months ago I received a letter. The envelope was stamped "inmate correspondence." It was a hand-written letter, written in pencil, from an inmate in a jail in New York State. It was obviously from a young man and he was writing simply to thank us for the Seasonal Missalette worship resource that his jail uses for worship with the inmates. The letter came directly to me, since I write the reflection on the inside cover for each issue. It warmed my heart to read his words of thanks and his description of how the missalette has helped him become closer to God. I shared the letter with my managers here. I mused that it might be appropriate to send him some spiritual reading from our catalog. I went on the jail's web site and found that inmates can only receive books directly from the publisher of those books. So we sent him three books.

About a week later I received a much longer letter from this young man, which began, "Dear Jerry Galipeau, I'm twenty-one years old, it's been a year since I've seen the outside world . . ." He went on to unfold his life story. I cannot begin to describe the kind of torment this person has lived through since the beginning of his life. I was so deeply saddened by his stories of loss, abuse, and addiction. I shared some of his story with my folks here, one of whom wondered if his jail was providing the assistance with addiction issues that this young man needs. So I wrote to him again, asking if he was receiving the kind of support he needed, and I assured him of my own prayers.

He wrote back to let me know that the jail was providing this support.

In that letter, he shared some thoughts on the books we had sent him. "I read these books every day, especially the Fifteen-Minute Retreats. I've been loving every moment of these prayers and Scriptures. I've been reading from the Book of John. 'The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.' . . . I want to become a politician and try to make a change in life like you did to me. I feel like I can raise my head a little higher just to believe there is someone out there to help me to help me breathe. I thank you Jerry Galipeau for giving me your heart and love to God. 'A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you.' "

Folks, sometimes I wonder, as we often plod through our systems and projects here at WLP and J.S. Paluch, if we are making a difference. I wonder about how our mission is or is not consonant with the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, which Pope Francis has us all to embrace anew. These days, in a tangible way, I feel like somehow, through our outreach to this young man, we are "visiting the imprisoned."

I think this story illustrates, at least for me, the real mission of Catholic publishing. We change hearts.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A City Oozing Cubby Blue

Monday greetings. It is one of those picture perfect days here in Chicago; sunny, crisp, and clear.

This has been quite a weekend here in Chicago. As you know, the Chicago Cubs are heading to the World Series for the first time since the 1940's. The city is absolutely electric. On Saturday afternoon, I decided to travel downtown for early voting. Here is Daley Plaza, with the iconic Picasso sculpture in the background. "Cubby Blue" is everywhere! The city seems to be oozing it.

At Mass yesterday at Old Saint Patrick's, a young couple with their five year-old son got up after communion to talk about the importance of giving to Old Saint Pat's, so that our ministries can continue to flourish. Once again, there was no pressure, just a personal witness to the importance of the parish in this young family's life.

The music was stirring. It is so good to be in a place where the congregation sings so well. You know, there are very few of the old "Glory and Praise" songs from the 70's that touch my heart any more. But this weekend, one that has always done so was sung, The Cry of the Poor. It always brings back memories of the "folk group" that sang once a week at the Masses at the seminary I attended. The descant (which I sang quietly yesterday) is just haunting and beautiful.

Hoping as this week unfolds that yours is a good one. Go Cubs, go!

Gotta sing. Gotta Pray.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Haunted . . .

Friday greetings on a beautiful, crisp Autumn day here in the Midwest.

Quite a whirlwind week for me. I left Chicago and headed to the Archdiocese of Baltimore on Tuesday to be in time for Wednesday's planning meeting for the 2018 national convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. There was lots of energy in the room as we talked about theme (or no theme), possible plenum speakers, breakouts sessions, and prayer experiences. Here's a photo I snapped during the meeting.

Last night, I gave a presentation on cultivating baptismal spirituality at a parish at which I was liturgy and music director from 1992 to 1999, my last full-time parish position. During my time at Saint Marcelline in Schaumburg, Illinois, I helped spearhead a huge renovation project, which included the installation of a new baptismal font. We used the original font in the design. Here are a few photos of that font.

The group that had gathered for my presentation was the "Women at the Well." This is a a group of women at the parish that has been meeting several times a year now for ten years. Their husbands volunteer to prepare and serve the meal, then provide the clean-up afterwards. We had about 40 women in all present. The evening ended with these "women at the well" gathering around the baptism font for a ritual of baptismal remembrance.

It was such a delight to greet old friends. One big surprise for me was the fact that the women with whom I had ministered in the parish (who have now either retired or moved on to other things) were invited. It was an emotional reunion filled with the sharing of stories, sad and happy. Surely a step back in time, but a sheer delight for me. These were my "peeps," the women who showed me what real hospitality could be back in the 1990's. This was my family when I came to Illinois. My love for them was rekindled last night.

Something happened after we concluded the evening while I was on my way out of the building; it has haunted me all night and into today.

One woman, who was a parish leader at the time when I was there, a really wonderful dedicated lay minister, ran after me and asked if she could speak with me privately.

She said something like this. "Jerry, I just wanted to thank you for something you did for my family when you were here that I have never forgotten. You may remember that I was caring for my aging mother when you were here. When she died, you allowed us, even though it was against the parish rules, to have someone speak after Communion at her funeral. It meant so, so much to my family and me. I will never forget your kindness in allowing us to do that. I have often told people over the years of that kindness you extended." And then she was choked with emotion, as was I. "I just need to say say thank you now." I gave her a big hug and then I left to head back into the city to my home.

Why did this exchange haunt me? Frankly, I wondered how many other families who had lost a loved one did we simply say, "No, I am sorry but our parish prohibits anyone from speaking at funerals; please do that at the funeral home."

Was I one of those unbending parish staff members who "stuck to my guns" in almost every case when a family asked for some time to talk about their loved one at a funeral? I was so glad to have had the encounter last night with a grateful parishioner. But I wonder how many other people I personally may have alienated because of an unbending attitude and demeanor?

This is what has haunted me since last night.

Anyone else haunted by this kind of stuff?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 17, 2016

My Parish's Annual Appeal

Monday greetings from Chicago, where today's temperature is expected to reach 83 degrees! The leaves are turning to their beautiful autumn colors, but the temperature is telling us it is still summer!

This past weekend, at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago, we had the annual "appeal" by our pastor. I had received a letter from the parish earlier in the week, outlining the various ways parishioners can give to the parish; weekly giving, electronic giving, wills, trusts, etc. In previous parishes where I have ministered, this weekend always meant the handing out of annual giving pledge cards. One parish asked each of us to consider "taking a step" in our giving by increasing that giving one half of one percent, or one percent.

I was seated in the lower hall this past Sunday, and our pastor was preaching at the Mass upstairs in the main church. After the proclamation of the Gospel in the lower hall, a staff member came forward with a large pole and poked the bottom of the projector suspended above the main aisle, turning it on. There was a screen that had been lowered behind the altar. So, through this technology, we in the hall were able to see and hear our pastor's annual appeal. Here's a photo I took.

Fr. Tom preached a wonderful homily and then told us that, despite what the people in the development office might think of what he would say next, he simply thanked us for our generosity in the past. He never once asked for money; he just invited us to keep everything in our parish moving along as we teach, preach, and invite young people into the lived experience of Catholicism in our parish.

I have heard the age-old complaint from Catholics for years: "All they ever do in that parish is ask for money." Here was an example in stark contrast to that. A simple and genuine word of thanks to the parishioners for their generosity.

I liked it. What does your parish's appeal look and sound like?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, October 14, 2016

This Befuddled Believer

Friday greetings on a beautiful Autumn morning here in Chicago.

I have been thinking a lot lately about "big picture" stuff. On Saturday of this past weekend, while attending an Oktoberfest event in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, my friends and I, after grabbing our plates of German sausage and our beer, searched for a place to sit at the long tables beneath the tent. It was a striped white and red tent; here's a photo is took.

There was a tuba band playing, people were dancing, singing, clapping their hands in rhythm, and just having a grand time. I found some chairs right across a table from an older couple; looked like they were in their early seventies. He had retired from the Air Force and they lived in a rural area in central Wisconsin. Since I love meeting new people, I quickly started a conversation with these two folks and, with a great sense of gratitude and relief, engaged in a conversation that had absolutely nothing to do with the current presidential election campaign. We talked about some of our Catholic experiences. We talked about our families. We talked about travels to Germany. We talked about how great the food was at the festival. We talked about how much we loved the music in the tent. We talked about how beautiful the day was. My new friend even shared some jokes with us. It was just a delight.

As I sat there, I realized what a grace that moment was for me. Lately I have been thinking so much about the vastness of the universe. And I think about the seeming insignificance of this planet of ours within the big-ness of it all. And sometimes doubt enters my mind about how God could have created all of this and how God could have created this human species, and how God could have had anything to do with the fact that I came into existence on this tiny planet. I just can't wrap my brain around the cosmos; I know I have to do more reading to help enlighten my mind.

When all of this thought rages in my mind, I am always, always brought back to one thing. And that one thing is Jesus Christ. My belief that this creator God broke into humanity by sending the divine offspring, Jesus Christ, to save us from death, becomes stronger when I have experiences with other human beings, like the experience I had with those two folks in the tent on Saturday. I just had this overwhelming sense that this God of ours was somehow present right there in that tent because this God had taken on our human flesh; it was like a "His eye is on the sparrow" kind of moment. And I cherished the encounter and I thanked God for it and the insight it brought to this sometimes befuddled believer's mind and heart.

I hope that your weekend finds you discovering God's presence in the simple encounters.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Chanting the Conclusion of the Readings and Gospel at Mass

Thursday greetings from the sunny and cool Midwest on a crisp Autumn morning.

While at the cathedral in Milwaukee this past Sunday, I was reminded of a liturgical practice from The Roman Missal implemented there some years ago.

At the end of the first and second readings, once the lector had concluded the proclamation of the text, the cantor (without the use of a microphone, kind of in an "off stage" fashion) sang "The word of the Lord," using the intervals indicated in The Roman Missal, a perfect fifth after the first reading and a minor third after the second reading. All responded with "Thanks be to God," mimicking the interval. The pastor, who proclaimed the Gospel, also chanted "The Gospel of the Lord," using the interval indicated in The Roman Missal, with all responding "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ."

I was wondering if the followers of this blog have implemented this practice in your parish. Have you tried it? If so, when do you do it? If so, who sings the conclusion? The lector? The cantor? Someone else? How has it worked/not worked for your parish?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Trip to Milwaukee's Cathedral and the Upcoming Parish Mission

Happy Tuesday all.

I spent part of the weekend in southern Wisconsin, attending the annual Octoberfest in the quaint little town of Cedarburg.

On Sunday morning, I attended the 9:30 Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist in Milwaukee. I always feel so nourished there by the music, the always stunning proclamation of God's word, the challenging preaching, and the space itself, which lifts my heart.

Certainly one of my favorites baptism fonts. 

I'll be presenting the parish mission at the cathedral the final weekend of October. They've created a dedicated Facebook page for the mission; pretty cool! And they asked me to do a little informational video as well.

So, if you are in the Milwaukee area, please consider stopping by for the parish mission sessions.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Welcome to America: "That Was God's Work!"

Thursday has dawned with warmth and rain here in the Midwest. Nothing in comparison to what friends and family are facing along the southeast coast of the United States. Here's a prayer we sent to all of our J.S. Paluch bulletin parishes yesterday:

Let us pray.
As hurricane Matthew approaches,
may we, our loved ones, our homes, our community, and all those along the East Coast
be protected from the storm and spared from all harm.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Last evening, we welcomed a refugee family from Afghanistan to the United States through WLP's collaboration with Exodus World Service. Three of us arrived at about 5:00 P.M. with three cars filled with the household items we had collected to help this new family set up an apartment. Unfortunately, there was no apartment ready for them, so a motel stay was arranged for them until an apartment is found, typically within a week. We took the time as we awaited their arrival to deliver the items to their motel room.

We had collected everything needed for the kitchen, bathroom, and bedrooms, as well as non-perishable food items, tools, toiletries, cleaning supplies, supplies for laundering clothes, and some other items, like paintings and decorative items, to help them make their apartment into a home.

The level of anxious anticipation in our hearts was overwhelming. All we knew was that our family consisted of a set of parents and their 22 year-old daughter. They had flown yesterday from Delhi, India and they did speak some English.

We waited in the parking lot and when the van transporting them from the airport pulled into the parking lot, my heart swelled with anticipation.

Never in my life will I ever be able to erase the memory of the smiles on the faces of our three new family members. The Dad, a medical doctor, the Mom, a mid-wife, and their daughter all had grins from ear to ear. They had been traveling for over forty-eight hours in order to fulfill a dream that apparently had taken years to materialize. Michele vonEbers, WLP's Rights and Permissions Manager, was the catalyst for the entire project and she inspired all of us here in our efforts to reach out to help this refugee family. She held a vase of flowers and when she gave them to the Mom, the woman's face was filled with sheer delight. The Mom clutched the flowers to her chest and never let them go until we were settled into their motel room, where she gently placed the vase on the window sill. Here we are, Michele, Raquel Hernandez, WLP's Customer Relations Manager, and I, with our new arrivals.

This family's gratitude was a gratitude unlike anything I had ever witnessed. They arrived with several large suitcases and a few backpacks. My heart was so moved as I realized that this is pretty much all they had in the world. I thought of my townhome, filled with so much, and I felt that what we had done for this newly arrived family, was so small compared to what we all treasure as possessions that we take advantage of every day.

When we hoisted all their belongings to their motel room, the folks from Exodus explained that everything they saw in their motel roomall the items we had been collecting over the past few monthswere gifts from the people who worked at our company, a Catholic publishing company. Again, the look of gratitude on their faces just took our breath away. The Dad, whose English-language skills were quite good, but with a heavy Afghan accent, explained to us that when they left Afghanistan four years ago and moved to Delhi, they had converted to Christianity. He had helped translate the Bible into Pashto, which is a member of the southeastern Iranian branch of Indo-Iranian languages spoken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran. He also told us that he had written and translated four book of original poetry. This Dad was a talker, let me tell you! His enthusiasm and excitement, which had to have so much to do with the fact that they had landed in their new home after so many years, was effusive. I stood there, wondering what their lives must have been like in Afghanistan, what hardships they had endured over the time that they fled their country, the many difficulties and challenges they faced as they applied for refugee status in the United States, and the discrimination they must have experienced through all of this. The Mom just smiled. The daughter looked quite overwhelmed. I will never forget the largeness of her eyes as all of this newness began to settle in.

We were able to point out some of the items we had brought. When we showed them an original painting that WLP's Alan Hommerding's late Mom had painted, their eyes lit up. We told them that we brought this painting for the wall of their apartment, to make it feel more like home. Emotions got the best of me when the Dad smiled and said, "It is just like Afghanistan; it is so beautiful! Thank, you, thank you!" Here's a photo I took.

We then said our farewells and were thanked with hugs and handshakes all around. The staff remained to help orient the family to the motel and to planning the many meetings that will unfold over the next several days, weeks, and months, as they help the family get settled in their new surroundings.

When we walked out of the motel room and began to walk down the corridor, I turned and looked at Michele, Raquel, and our case worker from Exodus, and simply said, with my voice choked with emotion, "Folks, that was God's work." Didn't need to say any more.

It will be a challenging road ahead for our new family who was welcomed to American last night. We will do our best to keep connected with them and to ease their transition in whatever ways we can.

There is a way out of the frustration we all feel about those who are driven from their homes due to war, violence, and unspeakable terror. I felt that last night was one of those ways, and for that I will always be grateful to Michele vonEbers and a group of people I am privileged to work with and lead here at World Library Publications.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Immigrant Crisis: WLP Is Doing Something. Will You?

Wednesday greetings from the Midwest on an unusually warm October morning.

I just read a report, indicating that over 4500 migrants were rescued off the coast of Italy just in the past 24 hours. Apparently the seas have been calm, so the "people smugglers" have been hard at work pushing their boats filled with migrants off the coast of North Africa. Here is a photo of one of the boats.

We at WLP have spent the past couple of months collecting household items to set up an apartment for a refugee family through the group Exodus World Service. Check out the link, especially if you, your family, or your parish are searching for something concrete to do to welcome displaced families here to the United States.

Here is our little WLP "Exodus" bulletin board:

The Exodus World Service folks set up an online tool, specifically for WLP, through which we were able to each check off items that we intended to bring in for our refugee family. Easy and efficient. My heart is brimming with pride for our team members here at WLP who were so generous with their time and treasure.

The results:

Yesterday, we found out that our family will be arriving today from Afghanistan, through New Delhi, India, and into O'Hare. An apartment was not readily available for them, so they will be temporarily settled in a motel on Chicago's north side.

Several of us will deliver the household materials to them early this evening. I pray that all goes well for them as they enter the United States.

Please, please, do something, anything you can, for immigrants, especially those fleeing such violence and horror in their own countries.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dallas Ministries and Mass of Comfort and Joy by Kevin Keil

Monday greetings to all.

Over the last four days, I spent time at the Dallas Ministries Conference, which was a great gathering of ministers from the area, about four thousand, including volunteers and exhibitors. WLP helped sponsor the conference by sending Mary Birmingham and me to give workshops on baptism, apprenticeship, confirming adults Catholics, and Lent and the RCIA. It was great reconnecting with old friends and meeting new friends and colleagues.

Here I am with Mary Birmingham and Michael Prendergast.

And the symbol of my life "on the road!"

And here is our WLP exhibit booth.

The RCIA's implementation is facing some of the same challenges in Texas: so much focus on teaching doctrine to the detriment of the holistic approach called for by the Church. There were a few bright spots for me. One person, in particular, went out of his way to let me know that after hearing me speak a few years ago, his parish's RCIA process has really developed into an apprenticeship of discipleship!

I attended a workshop given by Kevin Keil. WLP publishes several pieces by Kevin, as well as his brand new Mass setting, Mass of Comfort and Joy, which (obviously) is a Mass for the Christmas Season. Kevin very cleverly uses Christmas carol tunes to craft the acclamations. They are solid and very accessible for the assembly.

This Mass is a gem!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.