Saturday, June 29, 2013

praised be God

Dear Family and Friends,


Please join me in thanking God for the gift of becoming his deacon. May my life truly be all in service to Him and my brothers and sisters. Let us thank him also for my 22 fellow deacons.

Thank you for the prayers, I felt bolstered up and carried along by them all these days.

May God bless you, with my Diaconal blessing,
Brother Deacon Kevin


presentation of the candidates

promise of obedience

litany of the saints

litany of the saints

laying on of hands

23 new deacons

mother Teresa's sisters came!

receiving the Gospels

the embrace of peace

elevating the chalice at the great Amen

giving communion to my dad

group photo


with the deacons in my group and Father Timothy

me and my dad
 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

exams are over and... into great silence

before exam
 Dear Family and Friends,

Phew! Just finished my last exam. Walking out of that classroom was a great feeling, and I couldn’t help it as I started singing “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”. Thank you Mary Poppins! My only wish now is that I don’t forget all the great things I’ve learned in Theology, and that little by little I learn more and more about the faith.

after exam
There’s just 10 days left till ordination! Tomorrow night the 23 of us deacons-to-be start an eight day long silent retreat. So I guess this is the last of my emails until I’ll be signing off as “Deacon Kevin”!

Here’s how the next few days will look:

20th: Picnic in the mountains (by a town called Percile) before our retreat. The Retreat starts at night.

21st: First of the eight days of retreat. It’s all prayer, all day. No midnight bonfires, no email, just you and God.

27th: Day seven of the retreat. We’ll probably be practicing for the ordination mass today.

28th: Last day of the retreat. We have a mass in the evening where we renew our baptismal promises. Don’t know if I’ll be sleeping much this night…

29th : 10:30am (4:30am EST) Ordinations in the main chapel of my seminary. Archbishop Renato Boccardo will preside. It should be a full house. I invited all the missionaries of charity to come, so it will be even more of a full house! My dad will be there too! My estimates are that I’ll become a deacon around 11:15am or so. Afterwards we’ll have a big lunch with the Archbishop, and spend the rest of the day celebrating. Woohoo! It’s been 19 years preparing for this!

30th: 6:00am – I will deacon my first mass at the convent of the missionaries of charity (Mother’s Teresa’s Sisters). We’ll see how well they suffer through my first homily!

Hopefully I’ll have written you another message by then, but in the meantime, hang in there, please pray for us, and God bless you!

Brother Kevin

Monday, June 17, 2013

the final stretch

Dear Family and Friends,

Two more days and exams will be over! My final “synthesis exam” of theology is on Wednesday. Somebody must have been praying because it turns out the two examiners will both be English speakers – it’s a welcome relief to be able to take an exam in English!

Theology has been a rewarding study. It’s one of those subjects that’s so much bigger than you, but that you wish you could fit all inside your head. It’s kind of like taking a dive into a swimming pool on a hot summer afternoon – but in theology the water is the word of God, Sacred Scripture. It’s all a reflection on God’s word, and through that reflection, you understand God’s action in history better.

Talking about swimming pools, it’s starting to get hot in Rome. This is one of those moments when I thank God that my seminary has a swimming pool. Think I’ll go dive i

God bless you,
Brother Kevin

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pope Francis at his best

Dear Family and Friends,

Francis has been Pope for three months now. The other day my friend from Argentina, Brother Ricardo, said, “you have to see Francis speaking to really understand him.” I agree. While Pope Benedict is fascinating to read, Pope Francis is fascinating to watch.
 


Last week Francis met with thousands of children from Jesuits schools in Italy and Albania. At the beginning of his talk, he put aside the speech and asked the children if they wanted to ask him any questions. What followed is Francis at his best. I did a simultaneous – and rough – translation. Please go to www.cblstones.com to see the video. It’s too big for me to send with this email. The questions the children ask are precious, and Francis’ answers are filled with wisdom.

Enjoy!

God bless,
Brother Kevin

PS Today is 6th months till my ordination as a priest in December. It’s coming fast!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

life at my seminary

Dear Family and Friends,

I’ve lived at my seminary here in Rome for about five years now, and I can’t help but be grateful for my time here. It’s amazing that over three hundred guys from twenty one nations can get along for a week, let alone for a whole year. And though I’ll be the first one to admit that life at my seminary isn’t perfect, it’s pretty awesome, and there’s a special spirit here. For instance:

brother with broken leg passing out laundry

Notice the brother sitting on the table in the picture. He’s brother Rodolfo, and he broke his leg playing soccer. He could spend his time in bed lounging around if he wanted, but I found him the other day helping fold and pass out laundry!
brothers looking at bird of paradise flowers

Sometimes you get into the bad habit of traveling from place to place without admiring the scenery. I find myself doing just that at times as I walk from my seminary to the university. But the two brothers in this picture had stopped to admire the two bird of paradise flowers growing in the woods. One brother’s an Italian, and one’s a Minnesotan. Fancy that!

a little prayer
We say a bunch of prayers together every day, but to be honest, it’s nice to have some spontaneous prayer now and then too. Brother Andrew has been inviting anyone who wants to come for a little prayer in the mornings before our beautiful crucifix in the gardens. Let the Spirit flow!

olive glory!
Yesterday was an especially beautiful day. There were sunbeams streaming through this olive tree in the early morning, and then a crescent moon came up to wish us all a good night.

crescent moon and view from my window
And a good night to you too!
Brother Kevin

PS By the way, whoever prayed for me on my last exam, it worked! I’ve never taken an exam that went so well. So whoever you are, I have my second-to-last exam tomorrow – on the Psalms and Wisdom books – and I need your prayers again! God bless you!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

rosary in the vatican gardens

Rosary in the Lourdes Grotto

Dear Family and Friends,

Last night we went to the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens to pray the rosary with a group of Regnum Christi members. (Regnum Christi is the group of people who share the same spirit and mission as me and all my fellow brothers and priests) It was a beautiful night, and there’s always something magical about the Vatican Gardens. We passed by Pope Francis’ house (see pictures with his windows pointed out) and then went near to Pope Benedict’s house.

Pope Francis' House from the front

Pope Francis' House from the west side

The Lourdes Grotto is on the top of the Vatican Hill, and was a favorite spot of both Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict. Pope Francis has already visited it too. We prayed the rosary in French, Italian, English, Spanish, and Portuguese – quite the mix! It was really awesome to be there united in prayer with all our good friends. Afterwards Cardinal DePaolis, a good friend and guide, gave some beautiful words.

Cardinal DePaolis giving some words
Here’s a picture in front of the grotto of the four of us from my group here in Rome who will be ordained deacons June 29th. From right to left: Brother Ricardo from Argentina, Brother Esteban from Mexico, Brother Fran├žois from France, and somebody who jumped into the picture last minute! We’ve been through a lot together, and we’re hoping to be able to stay in touch as one goes to Spain, another to Brazil, another to France, and me to the US.
 
me and my fellow deacons-to-be

If you feel inspired, say a prayer for us four as we take our third-to-last exam tomorrow!

God bless,
Brother Kevin

Friday, June 7, 2013

countdown

Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday we all went on a hike to the beach and had a picnic. The water was refreshing, and it was nice to get out of the city for a break from studies. We played beach volleyball  - won 21-17 :) - and after lunch had a softball game - lost 9-14 :(

countdown to ordination

The other seminarians have started a countdown to our diaconate ordination. They have posters all over the seminary with our photos and a number count – which is at 22 today. It’s getting close!

new alb
As well, we received our new albs today. The alb is the white garment the priest wears underneath his priestly vestments. I tried mine on and it fits like a charm.

Pope Francis with dove
A friend sent me a beautiful photo of Pope Francis at the audience the other day. A dove landed on his hand – great sign!

My eschatology exam this morning went great. That’s three down, three to go!

God bless you,
Brother Kevin
www.cblstones.com

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

prayer at work!

Spiritual Bouquet from my fellow seminarians
Dear Family and Friends,

I got back to my room this afternoon after a tiring day zipping around the Vatican, and there beneath my door was a gift from my fellow seminarians. It was a “spiritual bouquet”. They put together all the spiritual gifts they could as one big gift for my upcoming ordination, including 225 masses, 240 holy communions, 282 visits to Mary, 282 visits to Christ in the Eucharist, 298 sacrifices, 351 hours of study(probably the hardest!), 182 hours of Eucharistic adoration, and 284 acts of charity. That’s quite some gift!

The amazing thing is that yesterday I was having one of those harder days, you know, like when you kind of wonder how you’ll make it through. And then all of a sudden I had the strength to do what I needed to do, even though it wasn’t like the strength came from me.

It must have been those prayers and sacrifices, and the prayers and sacrifices of anyone out there who’s praying for me and my brother soon-to-be deacons. It’s such a gift to be part of a band of brothers like this, and to have so many friends pulling for you!

Thank you! And God bless you!
Brother Kevin

PS All of these reflections are at www.cblstones.com thanks to my brother Dan!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

procession with Francis through the streets of Rome

Pope Francis at the beginning of mass
 
Dear Family and Friends,

Yesterday was my last day of school. Ever. Well, who knows, but probably for a long time.

Francis before the Blessed Sacrament
 
On Thursday I went with some friends to Corpus Christi mass with Pope Francis at Saint John Lateran Basilica. Saint John’s is special for me since I’ll probably be ordained a priest there December 14th. After a beautiful mass with Francis, we started our procession from to Saint Mary Major’s Basilica. As the procession started, all of us were straining our necks to see Francis. Benedict used to travel atop a giant popemobile with the Blessed Sacrament, as did John Paul. The popemobile arrived, but there was no Pope, only the Blessed Sacrament and two deacons. Where was the pope? I thought maybe he’d travel in the smaller popemobile.

popemobile with Blessed Sacrament on top but no Francis
Then all of a sudden my friend saw him. Pope Francis was walking behind the Blessed Sacrament, head bare. Though there were thousands of flashes going off, he wasn’t waving at anyone; he was rapt in prayer. He looked just like any other priest.
 
Francis was walking behind!
 
We followed him the whole mile-long procession route down the Via Merulana, singing hymns and prayers. There was a special spirit of recollection and brotherhood among us all. When we arrived at Saint Mary Major’s, Pope Francis blessed us with the Blessed Sacrament on the front steps, then we sang a song to the Blessed Mother before heading back to our homes.

on the Via Merulana

Francis following
What an evening well-spent! It was so neat to be able to walk the streets with Francis.

God bless him and you!
Brother Kevin
Francis in the procession

Halfway down the Via Merulana

Getting close to Saint Mary Major's

at St Mary Majors

Francis praying before the Blessed Sacrament

Francis blessing us with the Blessed Sacrament

Singing a hymn to Mary