On being a cheerful servant


Student: If you could be any food, what food would you be?

Me: Hmm. I’m going to cheat with this one: I would be a cup of coffee.

Student: Why would you be a cup of coffee?

Me: Because it’s warm, inviting, it’s like a hug in a cup, and it wakes you up in the morning.

Student: I like that answer!

From the time that I was in High School, I have had trouble getting out of bed in the morning. So much so, that during my sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school I would arise ten minutes before I had to leave the house. My alarm would go off at 6:15am, I would then repeatedly hit snooze for a half hour, and finally arise at 6:45am. My Mom and I would then leave the house between 6:55 and 7:00am. I was a master at getting ready within ten minutes. I had the routine down to a science. My bags would be packed with my breakfast, lunch, and water bottle (at this time I hadn’t discovered the sweetness that is a cup of coffee). I would roll out of bed, brush my hair, use the bathroom, brush my teeth, and finally change. This became my routine each and every morning.

As I transitioned into college, this struggle became even more real since I had to do so on my own and drive 30-45 minutes to my college campus every morning. It was during this time that I discovered the wonderful perks of caffeinated beverages. I had a Dunkin Donuts gift card from my summer job and decided to use it each morning during my commute. This struggle of trying to wake up at a decent time has continued to be a struggle through my college and post-college career.

As I began my year of service with Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries, I knew that one of my greatest challenges of the year would be getting up and ready for the day before the students on the retreat. This proved to be especially difficult being that our retreats typically don’t wind down until about 11:30pm. This means that most of the retreatants don’t settle down until after midnight, sometimes much later. Being the “adult” it is my job to make sure that everyone is safe, in their beds, and attempting to sleep. I repeatedly tell them, “You know that I love you all, but do you know what I love even more? Sleeping.”

These odd work hours have become one of the greatest struggles of my Cap Corps year as well as one of my greatest joys. It is definitely the most difficult part of my job this past year. We constantly rearrange our sleep schedule based on different retreat programs. This is physically demanding, and lying in bed until the last possible minute doesn’t work in this field. One of the ways that I know helps me each day is waking up before the retreatants and being ready to wake them up. One of the struggles of this is doing it with a smile.

I realized early on in the year that this would be a challenge for me. In October of 2015, CYFM put on a Lock-In because of an unexpected open weekend. As bright-eyed, baby CCVs, we were so excited to put on a program that we were able to plan from scratch. However, with an overnight program filled with activities came little to no sleep. I believe I slept for a total of three hours during that retreat. The morning came, and myself along with four other volunteers and two friars had to be bright eyed, smiling servants.

As we prepared breakfast, and as the cherubs slowly rose and made their way down to the dining hall, I was actually cheery. To be honest, I still don’t know how this miracle occurred, being that I was actually exhausted. Fr. Tomas, being his normal, joyful self commented on my cheeriness and appearance of alertness. However, holding my warm cup of coffee in my hands, the only answer that I could come up with for him was that I was “faking it”.

This idea, for me, goes back to my time training to be a peer leader when I was in High School. I was a part of a ministry team that would be running the icebreakers, liturgy, and behind the scenes tasks at a youth conference in upstate New York (everything north of Westchester is upstate to a Long Islander, don’t yell at me!). The week involved Discipleship training, as well as practicing skits, games, etc. On our final day of the youth conference we were all exhausted. We rose at 6am to begin preparation for the final day of Ministry, and my youth minister was particularly cheery, as the rest of us were, well not.

I remember looking at him, with tired eyes, and asking, “Tom, how are you so awake right now?!” His response was simple, and it stuck with me (and stayed with me throughout my year of service).

“I’m not,” he replied “I’m faking it,” and he still had a smile on his face.

This idea stuck with me, not because it made my youth minister inauthentic, or made the job of ministry seem easy. This idea stuck with me because it made me realize that my youth minister was a real person, who genuinely cared about our well-being, and our souls. And although we were all exhausted, we were still there to serve, and we were there to be cheerful servants, not grumbly servants.

“Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world, as you hold on to the word of life, so that my boast for the day of Christ may be that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you. In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.” Philippians 2: 14-18

And so, that morning in October, I was reminded of that encounter and the lesson that it taught me way back when.

Whether or not I kept this lesson in mind during later retreats is a different story. However I was reminded of this lesson towards the end of the year at one of the CAM orientation days. We were playing a question game, and one question that I was asked went like this:

Student: If you could be any food, what food would you be?

I thought for a minute and couldn’t think of a food. But, for some reason at that moment, I was reminded of one of my struggles this year: getting up on time, and doing it with a smile. And so, I cheated.

Me: Hmm. I’m going to cheat with this one: I would be a cup of coffee.

When I was asked why, I responded honestly, hoping that these attributes were part of my year. I hope that I was warm, and inviting to each retreatant, and to my fellow leaders. And I hope that I was able to wake everyone up in the morning.

Life Lately

For i know well the

Hello friends,

Since I last wrote a real blog post, a lot has happened in my life. Since April I have:

  • Led my last Confirmation Retreat at CYFM
  • Finished my year of service at CYFM
  • Participated/Led two Outreach programs
    • one local
    • one in Kentucky
  • Drove a very large cargo van to and from Kentucky
  • Said “See you later” to many wonderful, faith filled men and women
  • Traveled as a Pilgrim to World Youth Day in Poland
  • Moved back home
  • transferred Graduate Schools (maybe one day i’ll write about that journey, maybe)
  • Got a Job!
  • had a cold (boo)
  • been to the beach
  • found a cute coffee shop 15 minutes from my house
  • ordered many books for the upcoming fall semester

My August is nothing like what I thought it would be back in April. A lot has changed since then. Since my last real post, I have posted a total six reflections and talks from my year working with CYFM and from previous mission trips. Some of them are a little more lengthy than my regular posts, but if you’re curious about the ministry that I did this year, these talks below are a good example of the work that I did this year, and the heart and soul that I put into my ministry.

The Emmaus Witness
The Jesus Difference
Embarking on your faith journey
A Reflection on Mercy

These posts were talks that I gave throughout this year. While the Emmaus Witness, Embarking on your faith journey, and the Reflection on Mercy all speak to the same encounter they are each catered to a different retreat or program. The Jesus Difference was geared towards a Middle School audience.

Adjusting to life back home, out of the red house is interesting. Perhaps I’ll write to that soon. Thanks for reading some of my ramblings. Expect more posts soon since I have more time on my hands (at least for the next two weeks)🙂


The Emmaus Witness

ORBEC Walk To Emmaus #10

As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight.

A conversion of heart occurs in this story from scripture. One of the great things about it is how many times this conversion happens for the disciples, and in how it shows how many different ways this conversion can occur. For me, it is a reminder that our conversion of heart, our encounter with God, doesn’t just happen once, but happens over and over again, until finally (hopefully) we rest with God in his Kingdom. I think that each one of us can think back on our faith journey, and remember our first conversion of heart. Perhaps you are still able to remember that moment. You can remember every little detail about it, the lighting, the smells, and that word, song, or talk that changed your life for the better. Perhaps it was in this very room.

In my story, my conversion of heart occurred in a room very similar to this one. But before we can get to that moment, we need to back up a little bit. My relationship with Jesus began when I made my confirmation in the seventh grade. And since I became a Cap Corps, every week, sometimes multiple times, I get up here to this podium, and tell seventh and eighth graders how I made the decision to follow Jesus at my Confirmation. I can give that talk because it is true. I found a home in the youth ministry program at my parish. I made real friends, and found that I loved learning about my faith. I shared that I had found a true friend in Jesus with the seventh and eighth graders who were here last weekend. And while all of these stories sound nice, and they are; and they can help a twelve or thirteen year old know that Jesus can be a friend to them, that moment wasn’t the turning point for me in my story. My full story is a little different. Sometimes, the story isn’t as pretty and put together; sometimes we’re the disciples running away from Jerusalem after the crucifixion.

In the eighth grade my parent’s marriage began to fail. And while their marriage hadn’t been the best throughout my childhood, it still allowed some stability throughout my young life. There was a routine, Mom got home at 5:30 and gave us dinner, and Dad’s schedule shifted because of his two jobs, but he would come home, eat dinner and watch TV, eventually. But, when my Dad stopped sleeping in his bedroom, my world changed. It was here that I truly learned to pray, and depend on God. Two years later, they finally divorced and my home life changed permanently. Youth group became my stable environment. And while there were adults who cared about me, and true friends who were there for me; I went to that blue door of the old convent, down the stairs to a blue room each week for my “Jesus fix”.

As time went on, the youth group year moved forward. And we began to discuss heavier topics like, the importance of the Eucharist, chastity, and pornography; I began to realize that the guy that I was dating, whom I believed I was in love with and was going to spend my life with, was not treating me right, and the things that we were doing, even though we weren’t having sex, were not chaste or holy. I couldn’t swallow that truth though. I knew that what we were doing was not right, but hearing that truth out loud made it all too real for me. These things that we did made me feel better. I was still dealing with that change at home. I was learning how to live in my house without my Dad, and many times, because of work, without my Mom too. This guy made me feel loved and wanted, I felt as though I had a purpose with him.  So, I made excuses, tried to push the Church’s teachings out of my mind, and eventually began to completely ignore the guilt and the pain that I was feeling.  I threw my moral compass out the window each time I saw this guy, and I began to run away from Jerusalem.

The next few years were filled with your typical teenage drama: heartbreak, angst, but also with depression and anxiety. When that relationship, which I thought was worth throwing my faith away for, finally fell apart, I was distraught. It felt as though I had to relearn how to live. By the time I reached my senior year of High School, I wasn’t living a life for Christ, even though I had gone to Church, to youth group, and volunteered my time to the poor and to the younger children at my parish. I was living day to day, trying to fake a smile, and act as though everything was okay. I knew that I wasn’t though. I knew that I was loved, but couldn’t grasp what that meant, or how it could affect my life.

And so I went on this retreat. I didn’t particularly like going to youth group anymore, but out of habit, I went on the Spring Retreat. I wasn’t so keen on going, and as we opened the retreat I wasn’t sold on the theme song. I had been going to counseling, so I began to get my depression and anxiety under control, and I knew that being a scutch and remaining closed off was not going to be fun for anyone. So, I tried to be open and listen to all of the presentations and participate in the prayer services.

Jesus was walking with me, even though I didn’t recognize him. Friday night we handed whatever was burdening us over to God by tossing a rock into the Long Island Sound. We were asked to quiet ourselves, and to think about what was burdening us. There were thousands of pebbles on the beach, and the sun had gone down, leaving a beautiful blue-green color painted on the sky. We each picked up two rocks. One represented our burdens, and one represented a promise. Then we each threw our burden into the Sound, and held on tight to our promise. I began to open up then. Although I still didn’t recognize him, Jesus was walking with me, and I urged him to stay.  

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him.

I sat in adoration of the Eucharist. I remember that moment; it was when everything changed for me. I can remember every detail of that night. The room was dim; the monstrance was beautiful and was surrounded by candles. I remember the smell of the incense burning. Through tear stained eyes, all I could see was Jesus. Everyone else had disappeared. Then I heard the words of a familiar song,

“He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane; I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful you are, and how great your affections are for me. Oh, How He loves us.”

I had experienced God’s loving grace in the sacrament of confession. And as I sat, for the first time feeling peace in front of the Eucharist, I cried, and felt a whisper in my heart to rest, to let go, and to come, and follow Him.  I felt an overwhelming sense in my heart that I was loved. Truly, truly Loved.

“And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss… I don’t have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way he loves us.”

Suddenly things made sense. Christ was truly present in the Eucharist. Heaven came down to earth each time Mass was celebrated. Each time bread is broken at table, Christ becomes recognizable to us in the most humble, beautiful way possible. That true love, that acceptance and guidance that I had been looking for was there right in front of me:

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.”

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

The gift of Jesus in the Eucharist, for me, is the most important aspect of my faith. It is why I am Catholic. We are able to receive him every day if we want to. That’s crazy to me. Since my encounter, I started to look at the Eucharist in a different light. I guess you could say that I started to take it more seriously. I went to World Youth Day in Spain that summer, and for the first time in my life, went to mass each day. Being able to receive the Eucharist each day helped my love for Jesus in the Eucharist grow more and more. Seeing young people from all over the world, who share the same belief, reverently, receive the body and blood of Christ changed the way that I receive the Eucharist.

However, as life moves forward, I still get distracted, and forget what gift of love is in front of me. There is another story from the Gospel of Luke that speaks to this:

As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.  She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.  There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

I think that many times, I can be a Martha. And I’m sure that many of you feel the same way. I’m a do-er. I pay attention to the details because in my eyes, without them, whatever you’re trying to doesn’t matter. Like if you’re running youth group, and you forget pens for your journaling prayer station. That’s an important detail! But God still shows up. Suddenly you remember that there are a few pens in this bag, and that bag, and then suddenly you have enough pens for your prayer station. I like to do service projects where I can see God’s grace pouring out to those we are serving. And sometimes, I forget the power that prayer holds.


Like Martha, I am cleaning, cooking, and preparing for Jesus to enter my home. It doesn’t matter that he’s already here; there is a spill on the floor over there that I need to clean now, because Jesus deserves better. How am I supposed to host him if I don’t have any clean plates? How am I supposed to let him into my heart, unless my soul is in a perfect state of grace? How is he supposed to love me if I can’t love myself?

These are questions that run through my mind when I am brought before the Eucharist in Adoration. Like Martha, I am often anxious and worried about many things. I begin to think that I am unworthy, or that those things I did years ago still matter. And then Jesus reminds us that Mary has chosen the better part.  Just being with him in the Eucharist is enough. He wants us to spend time with him. Fulton Sheen once said,

“The only time the Lord asked the apostles for anything was the night he went into agony. Not for activity did he plead but for an hour of companionship.”

Mary understood the gift of love that was in front of her. (It must be something about the name.)

She chose the better part. Our Lord loves us so much that he humbles himself to become ordinary bread, we receive him and we adore him. In the breaking of the bread, our eyes are opened.

Thank you for taking the time to listen to my story, and how Christ has touched my life.

*This witness was given on the College and Young Adult Retreat in February of 2016 at CYFM*

The Jesus Difference

Have any of you ever been in a situation where you knew what the right thing to do was, but decided to ignore that feeling inside? Maybe you knew that your mom was saving those cookies for after dinner, and you decided to take one any way. Or your little brother or sister was really annoying you, and treat them in a way that you know your mom or dad would not like. Or you’ve been having a really tough time at home, and you forgot to study for that science test. And you walk into class and are able to see your neighbor’s paper pretty clearly. Maybe you’ve locked Jesus in your room, and went to that party without him.

Each and every day we are faced with choices, and for many people, hopefully those choices are directed by their relationship with God.

As Christians, our relationship with Jesus makes that difference.

My personal relationship with Jesus began when I was in the seventh grade. I was lucky enough to have an active youth group at my parish. And while I went to mass for my whole life up to this point, I hadn’t really thought about Jesus as a friend until I made my Confirmation in the seventh grade.

For me, going to youth group changed the way I saw this Jesus guy. There were these high schoolers who talked with us about Jesus, and how important he was to them. And I remember how important that was to me, to be listened to. And I learned that Jesus wanted to listen to me and he wanted me to listen to him. And he knew the way I felt during different times and he wanted to be there with me. He wanted a real relationship with me, where communication is key.

I don’t think I had ever really thought about how my relationship with Jesus would affect my life, until I was faced with, what at the time was a difficult decision. I was thirteen years old and loved going to the youth group at my parish. This was the summer after my confirmation, and I was hanging out with two of my friends. We had spent every week day after school together that year. We started out at my friend’s house and we decided to walk to the park. It was summer after all. We decided that we were going to get ice cream and watch the softball game that took place there each day. Now, the park in our town was right in the middle of my friend’s house and my house. I don’t remember why, but after getting ice cream we then decided to go back to my house instead of my friends.

There were two paths that we could take, and this wasn’t the path of life, it was a literal path. One was a little long, and we would have to walk up to the main road and then over to my house. The other, was to cut through a creek directly to my street from the park. That area was wooded, and there had been some trouble there in the past few months, so my Mom and Dad asked me not to cut through the creek anymore. My Dad isn’t a police officer, but he works with a lot of police officers, so I took his word for what was happening. They asked to always walk up to the main road when I was walking home from the park, even if it was a little bit longer. I can remember telling my friends that I wasn’t supposed to cut through the creek anymore, that my Mom had asked me not to do that. I was met with a lot of judgment, and peer pressure. This wasn’t something that I had expected. These were my friends, and they weren’t supposed to pressure me into doing anything.

I remember that they persisted. They did not want to walk the five extra minutes to the main road that would lead to my house. I remember suggesting that we just go back to my friend’s house because that’s where my Mom was expecting me to be anyway. They insisted that we go back to my house though. And I had this sense that I really shouldn’t walk through the creek. My parents had asked me not to do it. And I began to learn at Youth Group that Jesus wants us to listen to our parents because they Love us, not because they were rule-makers. And that Jesus understands how we feel when we’re made fun of, or if we’re rejected. We learned yesterday that Jesus also felt rejected. We learned last night that the Gospel of Mark speaks to people who were rejected. And it was that personal relationship with Jesus and taking the time to learn more about my faith that helped me to understand that.

I remember being able to think back to the previous year. I was with those same friends. It was December, so it was very cold, and the sun was setting earlier. This was a time when my Mom and Dad were working a lot, so I would go home each day with my friend, and her Mom would mind me until 6pm. As the 9th period bell rang, I went to the first floor where my friends would be, and we would then walk out to the bus together. The only thing was they had planned on “missing the bus” so that they could walk home, and stop at the little diner on the way. I was pressured into “missing the bus” with them. I didn’t want to walk home by myself, so I stayed with them. I didn’t want my friends to reject me. I didn’t know that I had a friend in Jesus. I thought that he was some far off authority who came 2,000 years ago. We ended up staying at the school until the sun went down. And as we walked home, we were hungry, and stopped at the diner. As a sixth grader, I didn’t have much money on me. I also didn’t have a cell phone yet. I was able to buy a bagel with butter and use the bathroom at this diner. I remember feeling so guilty, because not only was I walking home in the dark when I wasn’t supposed to, but I was also eating too close to dinner. When we finally arrived at my friend’s house, it was a half hour before my mom was supposed to come. I remember feeling so guilty that I would have to lie to my Mom about what we did that afternoon. Even though there wasn’t anything inherently bad about what we did, I wasn’t supposed to be walking home in the cold and in the dark. But the thing was, even though I felt guilty about what I had done, I still lied to my Mom, and I didn’t say anything when I felt pressured by my friends.

As I was struggling with the decision that I had to make on that warm summer day in the park, I remembered that cold December afternoon a year and a half before. It was my new found relationship with Jesus that helped me to see things differently. A few months earlier, I decided to let the Holy Spirit into my life, to make me the person that God created me to be. The difference this time was that I understood that the rules my parents had in place for me were there to help me, not to put me in a cage. This new understanding that I had a loving God, made my decision different this time around. And so, I decided to walk home the long way, up to the main road, and over to my street. My friends ended up not following. Actually, I think they ended up back at my friend’s house. I can remember being so embarrassed because I had decided not to go along with what they had wanted to do. I held back tears as I walked up to my front door, and my Mom embraced me and told me how proud she was of me.

Now, my friend had called her mom on her way home to tell her what happened. And her mom had called my mom so that she would know that I was walking home.

At the time, I didn’t think of this as a big deal, or that I had done ‘the right thing’. But I found out later, that my Mom was so proud of me for not giving into peer pressure, no matter how small it may have been.

Looking back on this experience, I can see how it was my experience at youth group that helped me to see Jesus as a friend that helped me to make that decision. It was the older teenagers who encouraged me to keep that commandment of listening to my Mother and Father. These people that I encountered changed the way I saw faith and the way I saw my relationship with Jesus. They showed me that I should have a real relationship with Jesus, and that he loves me unconditionally. They showed me that Jesus wasn’t just a divine being, he was also human and he knew how I felt.

I can remember being enamored with that idea. And I don’t think I ever gave it a second thought until much later in my youth group career. This man who suffered, died, and rose from the dead, did that for us. And for me, that changed everything. That personal relationship changed everything.

Now, my faith has had its ups and downs. I have gone through times where Jesus is my best friend, and then there have been times where I want nothing to do with Him, even though I know that he always wants a friendship with me. And I think that because I went through those times where I didn’t want to have a relationship with Jesus, I can appreciate the Love he has for each one of us more now.

Today, Jesus is still a good friend. I don’t think I would be up here talking to you all, if He and I weren’t good friends. But I think that as I’ve gotten older, our relationship has changed. But I’ve come to understand that that is a part of growing up, and a part of being lifelong friends with someone. Sometimes, you’re going to be laughing together, sometimes you’re going to be sitting quietly together, and sometimes you’re going to share in each other’s sorrows. Jesus and I, I would like to believe, have a strong friendship. For me, a big part of that struggle has been helping to define what a friendship is at different points. With the help of other people, I have been able to see that Jesus can be that person I cry with, laugh with, and sit comfortable with. And all of these things are okay.

My friendship with Jesus has helped me to make crucial decisions in my life. Some of those have included:  being there for a friend who was having a hard time, going on a mission trip in college (even though I wasn’t friends with anyone who was going), changing what I wanted to be when I grew up, and deciding to move away from friends and family to be with all of you. My relationship with Jesus has been much more than just a nice thing to think about. It has helped me to listen to my Mom when I was thirteen years old. It has also helped me to reach outside of my comfort zone and to experience real joy. It has helped me with the difficult parts of my life, but also helped me to see the beauty that this life has to offer. Jesus wants us to have a relationship with Him. It’s up to us to say yes and let Jesus into our lives.

This witness was given to a group of 7th & 8th Graders at CYFM’s Jesus and the Gospel Message Overnight. 

Embarking on your Faith Journey

Have any of you ever read a really great book or watched a really great movie or heard a really great story? Now, what did that book, movie or story have that was so great about it? Maybe it had to do with some mythical place, or an incredibly interesting main character. Perhaps you were able to identify with it in some way. Something about that story drew you in. And I can tell you, that each of these stories has something very simple in common. They all have some sort of journey that you as the reader, watcher, or listener follow. It may be a journey to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away, to Hogwarts, Middle Earth, Narnia, Metropolis or Gotham. It might be a journey of self-discovery, or one where the main character saves the world. We are drawn into this story. We are drawn into the mystery.


I have this map up here. It belongs to my Dad, and it had a prominent place in my home for most of my life. It’s a hand drawn map of Middle Earth, the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created for his famous trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. I grew up staring at it, memorizing the landmarks and physical obstacles along the way from the Shire to Mount Doom in Mordor. This is one of the stories that I was enamored with as a child. I loved the idea of the adventures that took place in Middle Earth. I wanted to meet characters like Bilbo and Gandalf, and I wanted to be a strong heroin just like Arwen.

Now, what if I told you that our faith can be just like one of these journeys.

Just like the ones that we see in our favorite books, movies, or stories.

 You might be thinking I’m a little crazy at this point. But, one of my favorite saints, St. John Paul II is quoted in saying, “Life with Christ is a Wonderful Adventure”.

There is a moment in every story where the main character is posed with a question. Usually that question is whether or not to take on an adventure. Whether they’re off to destroy a ring, find a horcrux, or save the city from eternal doom, there is a moment when the main character consciously makes the choice to do the right thing. And often enough, we learn that the main character was destined to take part in that journey.

So are we.


This painting is one of my favorites. It’s called “The Calling of St. Matthew” and it was painted by a guy named Caravaggio in 1600. Here we can see a ray of light making its way to Matthew, while Christ is pointing at him. The story of this painting actually comes from a story in the Gospel. The Gospel of Matthew tells us:

 “As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew- sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Matthew 9:9-13

We all have this moment. There is a moment where we are asked to join Christ on a journey. We are asked to accompany him on an adventure that we were made for.

My faith journey started out like many others. It was quiet. I grew up on Long Island, went to public school, lived with my Grandma, Mom & Dad, big sister Julie, and went to Mass on Sundays. I played with neighbors as a kid, and loved to draw and write stories. For me, this moment of encounter didn’t happen as a child, at my baptism, first communion, or confirmation, but rather, it happened on a retreat, kind of like the one you’re on right now. I had had a couple of really rough years in high school. I was anxious, depressed, I had lost friends, and a boyfriend who I was too dependent on, and my Dad had moved out and my parents divorced. I was a senior in High School. I wasn’t living a life for Christ, even though I had gone to Church, to youth group, and volunteered my time to the poor and to the younger children at my parish. I was living day to day, trying to fake a smile, and act as though everything was okay. I knew that I wasn’t though. I knew that I was loved, but couldn’t grasp what that meant, or how it could affect my life.

And so I went on this retreat. I didn’t particularly like going to youth group anymore, but out of habit, I went on the Spring Retreat. Ironically, or not so ironically, the theme of the retreat was “I will Follow” and we had to sing this awful song and do silly hand movements to it. However, I knew that being a scutch and remaining closed off was not going to be fun for anyone. So, I tried to be open and listen to all of the presentations and participate in the prayer services. Friday night we handed whatever was burdening us over to God by tossing a rock into the Long Island Sound. We were asked to quiet ourselves, and to think of what was burdening us. There were thousands of pebbles on the beach. We each picked up two rocks. One represented our burdens, and one represented a promise. We each threw our burden into the Sound, and held on tight to our promise. I began to open up then. But the true turning point for me was on Saturday night. I sat in adoration of the Eucharist, which is when the Eucharist is exposed in a gold stand called a monstrance for a prolonged period of time. I desired mercy; just like St. Matthew. I had experienced God’s loving grace in the sacrament of confession. And as I sat, for the first time feeling peace in front of the Eucharist, I cried, and felt a whisper in my heart to come, and follow Him.  I felt an overwhelming sense in my heart that I was loved. Truly Loved.

In that moment, just like St. Matthew, I got up, and followed Him.

I was drawn into the mystery.


I found Joy on that retreat. For the first time in a long time, I found joy in doing simple everyday things. I even found Joy in getting stuck in the mud of a small Long Island Harbor, after running after my friends onto what looked like solid ground. In case you were wondering, I did ruin my flip flops that day. I had no idea what this journey would entail or what my destination would be. To be completely honest with you, I still don’t know what the destination is. I can tell you, that since I decided to get up and follow Him, my life has truly been an adventure. I’ve gone places, done things, and encountered people that I wouldn’t have even thought possible in High School. But, I had to take that first step and climb that very high mountain. I had to leave my comfortable life behind, and like Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings, I left the Shire.

I started to take my volunteer work seriously. I was a volunteer with the Middle School Youth Group at my Parish. I played silly games along the way with middle schoolers and enjoyed it. I even let a 12 year old do my hair with shaving cream for the “Edge Kids Take Over”. It took a few showers to get it all out.

I went on trips to places I had only dreamed about before. I walked the streets of Dublin and Paris with my Mom and sister.

I took in the beauty of one of the world’s oldest book of Gospels, The Book of Kells, in Dublin, and I stood in awe of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. I went on pilgrimage to Madrid, Spain for World Youth Day 2011. I walked along the same cobblestone streets as St. Teresa and St. John of the Cross. I sat in the same churches as a Doctor of the Church. As a group, we went to Mass with various English-Speaking Cardinals, and eventually with Pope Benedict XVI.


We stood and humbly waited in the rain, which was described as a hurricane over the announcer. There was obviously a mistranslation there. And we waited for the Pope to arrive. We met young Catholics from all over the world: Colombia, France, Iraq, Australia, Nigeria, and Malaysia. I found I had a friend in Jesus’s mother after I realized that each church I went into had the image that my Parish is named after, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. This still happens by the way.

In college, I continued to follow Him along a path that I couldn’t quite see, and had some incredible experiences. I trudged through Washington DC in 10 degree weather as a witness to the beauty that Human Life is at the March for Life.


 I studied in Galway, Ireland, after working up the courage to follow the desires of my heart and change my major from something that would secure me a job after graduation, to something that I truly loved: English Literature and Irish Studies.


 I sat in the middle of a country road in a town where there were more sheep than people, and appreciated the beauty of creation with a sunrise at 4am with some of my wonderful classmates.


 I took a bus and visited relatives that I had never met and shared in faith and tea and ice cream with them. We drove all over my Grandfathers hometown.  I felt a little silly standing with that tomb stone in the rain, but I knew that these were the family members that gave me my Catholic faith, this was the church where my grandparents and great grandparents worshipped a God who is Love, and so I complied and smiled as a cousin I barely knew took my picture.


I walked across the Peace Bridge in a city where violence was the norm for so long. I shared in the hurt that my cousins felt from the past, but also listened to their hope for their city and for their home. I quite literally crossed the River Foyle with them and was present as they shared their story and their heart with me.

I traveled in a minivan, and my campus minister was pulled over by cop in West Virginia for going 83 mph, to a place that I had never been. There were mountains there. I served the poor of Appalachia in Beauty, KY with some of the most kind-hearted, loving people I know.


The Lord helped me break out of my comfort zone by working with power tools and to truly be present with the people of Beauty. I was reminded by a cook that I met from Georgia, just how beautiful my soul was, and how she could see it in my eyes. I spoke of my love for Mother Teresa and the Catholic Faith with a nurse from the next town after she confided in me just how beautiful she found the Catholic Church, even though she was a Baptist. She met me with love, not judgment, just as Jesus had.


I built a deck and a ramp that week along with 8 of my classmates and mentors. That is something I would have never thought I could do, much less that I would want to. My Dad still doesn’t quite believe it.  Even in the mud that week, I found Joy.


More recently, Jesus asked me to climb an even higher mountain. He asked me to serve in a way that I had never thought before. He asked me to move away from home to a place called Garrison, and to run retreats where students could encounter Him. I laughed, but after much prayer and a leap of faith, I went. And I could not be happier. Those words that JPII spoke are true, “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.”

Will you get up and follow him?

This presentation was given on the Sophomore Retreat: Faith Journey through CYFM. 

Reflecting on Service (2)


A few weeks ago I left a beautiful group of people to come back home. My experience with Workfest was one that I won’t forget anytime soon. I was given the opportunity to serve for a week with the Catholic Campus Ministry at Hofstra University. My Campus Minister had spent a year serving with a group called Christian Appalachian Project, which works to better many communities in Eastern Kentucky. Our Campus Minister absolutely loves this program, and has been telling me about it for over a year. CAP, as its better known, runs short-term service opportunities over Spring Break like Workfest. During Workfest, college students from around the country go to Camp Andrew Jackson and travel each day to a home that CAP is currently serving. During the course of the week of Workfest, college student’s work on a variety of necessary repairs on the homes that the families can’t manage on their own.

When we left campus on the Saturday before Workfest, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had been involved in different youth ministries, attended retreats as well as days of service but this was my first time on a real mission trip, and my first time working with students from all over the country. The car ride down was filled with laughter and music but come Monday morning we were divided into our crews. I was placed in the Brown Crew, and together we started to learn how to use different types of power tools. Some were more confident than others. The Brown Crew had students from Stevens Point Wisconsin, Cincinnati Ohio, Scranton Pennsylvania, Burlington Vermont, and Long Island.

It felt like we were in Kentucky for a long time before we finally began the work we were there to do. Our crew worked about 40 minutes from Camp AJ with the Smith Family. There we met Haley and her two daughters Kate and Anna. Haley’s husband, Joe was at work, and her son was at school. The Smith family needed a new roof, floors, as well as the front and back porch. The first few days were tough, I was a little homesick, tired, cold, and not quite used to the amount of mud we were working in. I can’t say that I was the most confident using some of tools, so I tried to help in any way I could. Even though our conditions weren’t ideal, we all tried to serve in ways that showed the love of Christ. The readings at mass each day were reminders that we were there because we love Jesus, and we love him by loving others. There were times that I moved debris, and held pieces of wood steady so that those I was working with could use a saw or a drill. But, each day we were called to come out of our comfort zones. And so each day, with the help of my crew, I contributed in new ways. We also were able to pray with our family several times a day. This was really a great part of how CAP operates. Getting to pray with and know Haley was a part of this trip that reminded us all why we were there. We were there to do Christ’s work and to love as he taught us. My crew’s experience with our family was one that allowed all of us to see how God works in the lives around us. Amanda shared with us that she had her son at a young age, and her life is not the way she had imagined. She wanted to work in a law firm, she hadn’t seen herself being a stay at home mom. She kept telling us that God had a different plan for her. Even though she was different from all of us who were working, she inspired us all with her faith. We were there to improve her life, but she was there feeding our faith.

Each night we were able to reflect with our school on the events of the day. We would start each discussion with roses and thorns, the good and bad parts of each day. On our free night our group decided to go on Night Hike, and do our reflections outside on the top of a rock. Seeing the stars in Kentucky and sharing in conversation and prayer with some of the best people I know was truly a blessing. It was also incredibly humbling to hear the stories of those who I had come with., and to see how God was using them. This was probably the turning point of this trip for me. Before our Night Hike, my trip was good, but after this experience, my trip became extraordinary. It opened my eyes to the world around us, the community we were serving, and the extraordinary people I was sharing it with. Although none of us would see the end result of our work, we were still becoming a part of these families in a great way. We were able to be a small part of God’s great plan for this family, all because we made the choice to follow him. .

My trip with CAP to Kentucky is one that was extraordinary and that I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced. Serving others is something that, when done with Christ, is not a burden but rather a blessing.

This post was first given as a reflection at a Lenten Prayer Service in 2014. All names have been changed to protect the privacy of each individual. 


A Reflection on Mercy


St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York

“Mercy: the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”

Pope Francis sent out this tweet on April 3rd, just a few weeks ago. And for so many of us, these tweets from Pope Francis have become a daily reminder of our shepherd, caring for his flock. This Jubilee year of Mercy is such a gift to the Church. We as Catholics are called to reflect on God’s unfailing, mercy and love.  And when I begin to reflect on this theme in my own life, I can’t help but see how prominent it has been. You see, for the past nine months I have been serving the Catholic Church as a Cap Corps Volunteer, where it is my duty to spread God’s message of love and mercy through my words, actions, and the many retreat programs that Capuchin Youth & Family Ministries runs. Part of my ministry this year is reflecting on God’s grace in my own life so that I may share that witness with the many middle schoolers and high schoolers who come to our center each and every day.

I’m sure that many of us can think of a time when the Lord’s mercy truly changed our lives. And as we sit here in adoration of the Eucharist, in adoration of our Lord, I ask you to let his mercy shine upon you, to let him love you, because he so desperately wants to.

There were many years when I was so afraid to let God’s love into my life. And this is something that I still struggle with from time to time.  However, in high school, all I wanted was to be ‘okay’. The only thing was I wouldn’t let his unfailing love and mercy into my heart. I was afraid to let Love himself in, because of the way others had hurt me. I didn’t feel worthy of His Love.

There have been other people who haven’t felt worthy of Christ’s love. However, one thing always happens. There is an encounter with our Lord, who is Love, and one cannot stay the same after that encounter. St. Matthew was one of these people. His story of conversion is a favorite of mine:

As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man named Matthew- sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him. While he was at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” – Matthew 9:9-13

I hope and pray that each of us has this moment, this moment where we encounter a God who is Love. And like St. Matthew, I hope that you’re life can never be the same, and that you choose to follow Him and bring those around to his merciful love. Each of us is asked to accompany him on an adventure that we were made for.

My adventure in faith started out like many others. It was quiet. I grew up on Long Island, went to public school, lived with my family, and went to Mass on Sundays. I played with neighbors as a kid, and loved to draw and write stories. For me, this moment of encounter didn’t happen as a child, at my baptism, first communion, or confirmation, but rather, it happened on a retreat, during Eucharistic adoration.

I’m sure St. Matthew didn’t feel worthy to follow Christ. He was a tax collector, a man who took advantage of people and their money. People were surprised when Christ asked Matthew to follow him. And while I’m sure other people didn’t judge me for following Christ, I sure didn’t feel worthy to receive his love and mercy, and to be a follower of him. I didn’t feel worthy to have the responsibility of doing all that comes with being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

I had a few really rough years in high school. I was struggling with anxiety, and depression. I had lost friends, and a boyfriend who I was too dependent on, and soon after that my Dad had moved out and my parents divorced. By the time I was a senior in High School, I wasn’t living a life for Christ, even though I had gone to Church, to youth group, and volunteered my time to the poor and to the younger children at my parish.

For me, life was trying to get through each day, often times faking a smile, and acting as though everything was okay. While on the inside, I was falling apart. I couldn’t see my worth in Christ. I knew that I was loved, but couldn’t grasp what that meant or how it could affect my life, and I certainly didn’t feel that love.

Being a senior, I didn’t want to miss out on any of my favorite High School experiences, so I went on the youth group retreat through my parish for one last time. I had prayed that something wonderful would happen on this retreat. I wasn’t sure if God would hear my prayer, or if anything would actually change in my life. But I knew that I was ready, that I wanted to live a life of Joy again. And although I still didn’t feel worthy, I prayed that somehow my heart would be opened to this love that I had experienced years before. That Friday night we took a walk down to the beach and had a prayer service. We were asked to quiet ourselves, and to think of what was burdening us. There were thousands of pebbles on the beach. We each picked up two rocks, one representing our burdens, and one representing a promise. We each threw our burden into the Sound, and held on tight to our promise. I handed God all that I had been carrying, the hurt and the sadness, and I promised to never deny his love in my life again. My heart began to break open then. God was beginning to answer my prayer. By the time Saturday night came around, my heart went from hard to being broken open by his Divine Mercy. And after receiving the sacrament of reconciliation, I sat in adoration of the Eucharist.

I desired mercy; just like St. Matthew.

And as I sat, for the first time feeling peace in front of the Eucharist, I cried, and felt a whisper in my heart to come, and follow Him. I no longer felt unworthy. Instead, all I saw was the Eucharist, and beautiful light surrounding it. I felt love, and finally understood in my heart, that despite my weaknesses and failures, Christ still died for me. I felt an overwhelming sense in my heart that I was loved. Truly Loved. In that moment, just like St. Matthew, I got up, and followed Him. I was drawn into the mystery.

Each time we are brought to adoration of the Eucharist, we are given the opportunity to gaze upon Love, and to let him gaze upon us. The creator of the world wants nothing more than to love you. Let us always remember what Pope Francis keeps reminding us of, that mercy is the bridge between God and man, “opening our hearts to the hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”

During this Easter season, let his Divine Mercy break open your heart, so that he may lavish you in love, and transform your life, just like he has done in mine and in so many others.


This reflection was given to a group of students at the New York Catholic Youth Day on April 30, 2016 at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, NY. I hope that it has inspired you as it inspired the students earlier this week. 


Reflecting on Service (1)


Driving through the mist covered mountains each morning brought me joy. This simple pleasure was a surprise to me, and I looked forward to it every morning. To be honest with you, I didn’t expect to find God in the little things on this Mission. I was expecting a great revelation to occur; I was expecting a great sign from Him. I was expecting an answer. Instead, I was consumed by moments of Joy that were brought about through small actions of great love.

Our week was filled with laughter, and productive work. But on our last day at the worksite, I had the pleasure of being paired with a Nurses Aid who worked for CAP full time. We talked about her life, her daughter, her job, and ultimately about faith. The first thing she asked me was whether or not I was Catholic. I was taken by surprise, and wasn’t sure if she was going to react positively or negatively to my Yes. Just the night before, the CAP volunteers had been told about Father Beiting and the struggles he endured as a Catholic priest in Southern Appalachia. And so I responded, and she exclaimed, “I find y’all fascinating!”

And in this moment, I encountered true Joy.

I later found out that my new friend was a Baptist, but had a great love for Mother Teresa and Father Beiting. We talked about how she wanted to be Nun when she was a small child, and how later on in life she found Mother Teresa’s books. She loves to read. This was yet another way that we connected. We talked about how religious sisters exude Joy, and how you can tell that they love God with all of their hearts. She told me that loving God is so important, and that’s all that matters. We were able to have a real conversation about things that mattered to both of us. We were able to share in God’s great Love.

There’s a famous quote by Mother Teresa that keeps coming up for me in prayer, “Do small things with great Love.” I think we’ve all heard it before. Mother Teresa was known for her way of loving others like Christ, and I think this quote sums up my Mission experience in a neat little package. In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39). This golden rule is something that CAP tries to live out each day. I’m grateful for that. Finding Joy in the little aspects of the day allowed me to see God in greater ways. Although I didn’t have a great revelation about my life, I was reminded of how important loving one another is. And love doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be small, and it can do great things.

This post originally appeared on the Hofstra Catholic Life Blog in April of 2015. 


That time we toured the North East (and the midwest)

Over the past few weeks I have been in the Hudson Valley, Long Island, Boston, New York City, the Hudson Valley again, Pittsburgh, Steubenville, and then finally back home in the Hudson Valley. It’s been a bit crazy, so I’m going to recap in the pictures below.🙂


One Wednesday afternoon, Val and I left our away retreat on LI for Boston, MA. To save gas, mileage, and our sanity we took the ferry out of Orient Point. I absolutely loved it, and would totally do it again. It was beautiful.


The reason for going to Boston was for an accepted students day (that we both went to) and we were able to go to Mass and tour around Boston. It was nice to see where I’ll be living for the next two years.


Here I am, in Downtown Boston by the Harbour. And below, by the sign for my program.



After finishing the accepted students program, we headed back to New York for a family retreat in the city. It was totally worth it because the friary had a cat named Bella. This literally made my week. I miss having pets around.


At youth group that weekend, we played some silly games (that were really about Easter) and talked about the Resurrection.

The following Tuesday, Sam, Fr. Tomas, and I drove west and spent the night in Pittsburgh. Here we had dinner with Sam’s family and saw the city.


I don’t have any pictures from Steubenville (we were there for a career fair) but when we returned I went to a poetry reading with Fr. Bob.


Then it was National Siblings Day, and my sister posted a picture.


And finally we were rewarded with a Mets game (courtesy of Mary Ellen) and we ran into so many people, including Chris!🙂


The today we had a great day retreat.


It’s been a crazy few weeks– but I don’t think I’ve ever been to so many places in so little time.


Our Lady of Perpetual Help


Growing up, this was an image that I was very familiar with. I don’t know if I necessarily understood that there was a difference between other images of Our Lady and Jesus and this one, but I knew this image. My home parish is named for this icon, and there is one present in the side chapel of the church.

As I was preparing for my first holy communion, one of the things that we did in preparation was a class tour of the church. I remember walking into the church on that saturday morning, and it being dark. I had never been in the church without its lights on. There was something peaceful about that. I remember being aware of that, even at seven years old. A sacristan gave our little class a tour of the church, but the only part of that tour that I have a memory of, is the explanation of the image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. At seven years old, the part of that explanation that I took away, was that Jesus was frightened of his passion, and he ran into the arms of his mother.

This was something that stuck with me as a child. That Our Lady was our Mother too. Jesus ran to her when he was frightened, and we could too. I can remember, whenever I did pray, praying a Hail Mary instead of a Glory Be or an Our Father. I knew all three prayers, but I always gravitated towards Marian prayer.

As I was preparing for Confirmation, I fell in love with Youth Ministry. And somewhere along the way, I thought that carrying prayer cards would help me to pray. At 12 my purse looked like it belonged to an elderly church lady. After getting a few odd looks and questions, I decided to pair it down to just one card. Can you guess what that card was?

Our Lady of Perpetual help.

The Catholic Company has a beautiful explanation of what this icon means:

The icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help represents the Christian mystery of Redemption.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help is a Byzantine icon that is believed to have its origin sometime during the 13th -15th century.  The image is also known as “Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.” The icon is known for being miraculous; over the centuries countless healings and special graces have been attributed to it, so much so that the image has been honored and venerated by many Popes.

The miraculous icon is painted on wood and measures about 20″ in height (54 x 41.5 centimeters) and depicts the Virgin Mary, under the title “Mother of God,” holding the Child Jesus.

The Archangels Michael and Gabriel, hovering in the upper corners, hold the instruments of the Passion. St. Michael (in the left corner) holds the spear, the wine-soaked sponge, and the crown of thorns. St. Gabriel (in the right corner) holds the cross and the nails.

The intent of the artist was to portray the Child Jesus contemplating the vision of His future Passion.  Frightened by the vision, he runs to his mother for consolation. The anguish He feels is shown by the loss of one of His sandals as he quickly flees into the arms of his Mother.

Despite a forboding vision of suffering, the icon also conveys the triumph of Christ over sin and death, symbolized by the golden background as a sign of the glory of the resurrection. The royal crowns on the heads of Jesus and Mary also symbolize their triumph as the King of Kings with his Queen Mother.

In a very beautiful way, the Child Jesus grasps the hand of the Blessed Mother.  He seeks comfort from His mother as He sees the instruments of His passion.  The position of Mary’s hands – both holding the Child Jesus (who seems like a small adult) and at the same time presenting Him to us – convey the reality of our Lord’s incarnation, that He is true God who became also true man.

What Our Lady of Perpetual Help Means for Us

Just as the Child Jesus fled into the arms of his Mother when he was frightened, so too do we flee into the arms of our Blessed Mother with child-like confidence whenever fear envelopes our hearts. Just as the Virgin Mother consoled and comforted her Divine Child, so too does she console and comfort us, her spiritual children, in our afflictions. We can always come to her in our time of need and receive her help.

In this iconography, Mary is represented as the one who guides us to the Redeemer. The Virgin Mother is also our Help who intercedes with her Son on our behalf.  The star painted on Mary’s veil, centered on her forehead, highlights her role in the plan of salvation as both the Mother of God and our Mother.

To this day, the Church of St. Alphonsus in Rome displays the original icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. They are the guardians and promoters of the holy icon, the only religious order entrusted with the task of doing so with a venerated image of Our Lady.  You can view a live image of the real Our Lady of Perpetual Help icon here.

As I got older and learned more about the actual image of OLPH, I began to listen to how Our Lady had interceded in the lives of those around me. I can remember some of the older teens in youth group talking about how OLPH followed them around. Then my youth minister mentioned how she did the same for him.

I thought that this was pretty cool. And so, the following February I had the opportunity to travel to Dublin and Paris.

olph paris

It’s a little blurry, and not actually Our Lady of Perpetual Help, but when I saw this image in Notre Dame I felt as though Our Lady was looking out for me, praying for me, and reminding me to look to her son.

About six months later I was on pilgrimage in Madrid with my parish, and this is what I saw:

olph madrid

At this point, I understood that this image was actually Our Lady of Perpetual Help and not just an image of Our Lady. I knew that I had a friend in heaven advocating for me.

Over the next few years I grew in my love for the Lord and for my parish, and really began to understand the point of intercessory prayer.

Over the past few years, I would joke that OLPH follows me around a little bit. She lets me know that she is praying for me, etc etc. However, this year, she has taken it to a whole new level.

As many of you know, I took a big step this year and did a year of service. And as a result, I moved to the Hudson Valley. Within the first few months of my year as a CCV, OLPH came around quite a few times, reminding me to pray, and that I was doing the right thing.


The image above can be found in the Parish that I do Youth Group in.


These two images were found at Graymoor.


This image was in my room at a convent that we stayed in for a retreat in the Bronx.


This image was in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Pelham, NY.

However, when we visited Boston back in December, it was a little bit overwhelming with the amount of times OLPH showed up…


This image was in the School of Theology and Ministry’s chapel in Boston.


This image was in the room I stayed in during my time in the Boston Friary.


The two images above were in the Parish where the CCVs did a retreat in Boston.


This was outside of the Providence College Chapel.


Finally this was on the cover of a book at the center.

It was here that I began to refer OLPH as my “Saintly Stalker” because she showed up everywhere I went. I’ve had some fun joking about OLPH being my stalker. However, she is a true reminder for me that I am loved by Our Lord, and that she is a great intercessor for me.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.

Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.