When We Love The Least of These…


St. Francis of Assisi – Ann Arbor – March 3rd – 40 Days For Life Mass, Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction, Rosary Rally & Rose Procession

Celebrant: Fr. James Conlon, Pastor

Initial Reaction: Another parish, another giant baptismal font! 🙂 IMG-8883

So I originally had plans to pray outside the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor this day at 10am. But when I went to sign up, it said on the website that a special event was planned at nearby St. Francis of Assisi. Never one to miss an opportunity to attend a different parish for daily mass for my Daily Mass Project, I made sure to change my plans so I could go to this.

Upon walking in, I actually saw the pipe organ first. (The picture below is from Wikipedia): Saint_Francis_of_Assisi_Catholic_Church_Organ_Ann_Arbor_Michigan

And then made my way to the center to get a picture of the sanctuary and altar, where a statue of Mary was placed surrounded by the roses, which we carried later to Planned Parenthood.


You may also see a basket with rosaries hanging out of it; those were also provided for the Rosary rally, as we recited the rosary as we walked.

As I waited for mass to start, I just sat in silence and prayed for the priest to give us some inspiration as this was clearly a mass centered around the pro-life movement. I thought about how I hear from people in the pews who are passionately pro-life like me and wish “Fr. So and so would talk about this from the pulpit more often!” I understand this argument because I too have sat there and wished that more priests would talk about tough topics more often – divorce, same sex “marriage,” contraception, abortion, pornography. And there are priests who do in fact preach this from the pulpit and I do commend them. But I think we all have to admit – aside from the anniversary of Roe in January, do you ever hear a priest talk about abortion? Do you ever hear them mention Rachel’s Vineyard? Do you ever hear them mention the men who regret lost fatherhood?

I have a feeling people will respond to this by saying, “It’s not the time or place for a priest to talk about those subjects during a homily. Give them a break.”  And I would tend to agree with that. But, when you consider that 70% of women who are post-abortive call themselves Christian, and 1 in 4 in women in the USA will have an abortion by the time they are 45, maybe you want to say something about that? And you may be right, a homily is when the priest breaks open the Gospel and the readings and makes it relevant to our lives. How can he possibly link abortion to a Gospel? I agree that’s not such an easy thing to do. That’s probably really unfair to ask a priest to do that.

On the other hand, we can’t just keep ignoring it. It’s happening in our world. Right now. Today. 3,000 babies are killed every day in the United States. I for one, think, that’s worth discussing.

I understand the risk of “losing” parishioners if they hear a message they don’t agree with and walking out. I was one of them! I heard the most ridiculous mission talk from a priest when I was 22 that made my blood boil. What was the subject of his talk? SIN. I was too stubborn at the time to realize that he was speaking the truth.

I thought to myself, “I can’t believe that I attended a church with all these hypocrites!” Looking back, obviously, I was convicted. And we can choose to stay or we can choose to leave in those moments. And I “left” (meaning I didn’t go to mass the following Sunday, had a particularly heartbreaking chat with God shortly after, and came back).

But I didn’t really acknowledge what I had heard from that priest until a decade or so later. I stayed in denial about sin for a LONG time and avoided confession because of it. And finally, 15 years later, I was in a place where I was ready to hear the truth (again) and this time, I embraced the faith, instead of running from it. And I pray for the conversion of those who haven’t stepped foot into a church because they fear condemnation. I pray that they will be led back to the fold and the laity will embrace them as a fellow sinner and lead them into the light. That doesn’t require a passionate and amazing homily from the priest (although it would be great!) – that requires love and compassion from us in the pews. So it starts with us.

Homily Reflection:  Fr. started by thanking us for our witness for the unborn. It was the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel, who was a very wealthy socialite turned religious sister. She was determined to bring love and hope to a world so full of hate and evil. Her family had a great heart for those who were seen as the “lowest.” She saw them as her brothers and sisters in Christ and grounded all of her work in prayer. And prayer is what Fr. said we ourselves, as we set out to process to Planned Parenthood to stand up for the unborn, prayer is what we needed first and foremost.

He also mentioned that we all have gifts from God. And we can use these gifts to promote a culture of life; we can use our voices, our presence outside clinics, our writing skills (holla!), our time, our talents, to promote the kingdom of God.

He said as the baptized, we bear the stamp “Property of Jesus Christ,” on us at all times. We may tarnish it, but we wear it. Ain’t that the truth? I can relate to that. How many times have I tarnished this “stamp?” But I still wear it, messy as it is!

As for abortion and the culture of death, Fr. James said that there are many who promote choice, who try to silence the Christian message, to put it to the side and so, make it a private matter because then it can be controlled and not visible.

But the Saints never did that! We will find ways around these clever maneuvers that abortion advocates will try in order to silence us!

We need to remember that it is God alone who creates and ends life.

Life does not end in butchering. It ends in the promise of eternal life.

The witness of love is always greater than the witness of death

Can I get an amen people!?

After mass there was Exposition and Benediction and Father read some beautiful prayers centered around the unborn, family, motherhood and fatherhood and pro-life efforts.


We then processed out singing Hail Holy Queen, as the servers carried the statue of Mary the ENTIRE way to Planned Parenthood. What a great witness to see young men carrying Our Lady and leading us as we prayed the Rosary!


Many people honked their horns in support of us, a few gave us the middle finger (As an Ohio gal, I wish I could just say it’s a “Michigan thing,” but we all know that’s not true) 😉  And one beautiful daughter of God shouted at us from her car. I couldn’t make out what she was saying but it was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you pray for the children already born?”  To which I would tell her, We do.

As we arrived at PP we chanted the Salve Regina. We then placed roses on the island outside Planned Parenthood, which I later found out is public property.


I just want to thank 40 Days For Life Ann Arbor Chapter for putting this awesome event on. What a gift to be able to spend part of our day marching and praying and worshiping on behalf of the unborn.

It’s not too late to get involved in your local 40 Days for Life chapter. It’s NEVER to late to stand up for the unborn. Click this link to find your local chapter and sign up for an hour to pray outside the clinic or find out to get involved in other ways. You could literally save a life!





Daily Mass Project: Most Holy Redeemer – Detroit and St. John the Baptist – Ypsi

Most Holy Redeemer – Young Catholic Professionals Series – Jan. 31st


Seriously? How beautiful is this?!

But wait…there’s more. Here’s mosaics featuring St. Joseph.


And then a side chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe:


And one to The Sacred Heart Of Jesus:


But my favorite has to be….


I think I could sit and stare at this for hours. And I would have if we didn’t have the speaker series, which was the entire reason I came to this Church. (I wish I would have made it for mass but it was in Spanish anyways. Perhaps one day soon I will visit for an English one!)

The speaker for this Young Catholic Professionals event was Dan Weingartz, President of Weingartz Supply Co., an outdoor power equipment company based here in Detroit.

The purpose of YCP Detroit Executive Speaker Series is for executives to share their professional and faith journeys with young professionals in their 20’s and 30’s, challenging them to ‘Work in Witness for Christ!’  As for Weingartz, he had a great witness to share. He mentioned how we all need good authentic friendships. And we need that close friend that isn’t afraid to tell us when we’re veering off the path. Do we have a friend like that? ARE we that friend to others? He discussed family and his young adult years and his growth in his relationship with Christ. But then he started talking about work and his job and “the grind.” And then he started to say something that really sparked my interest:

His company was one of the organizations that fought the HHS mandate and named as a plaintiff in the case. And who was the public interest law firm that he worked with? The one I work for! How’s that for a God moment? Here I am, the public relations coordinator for this law firm, and here is one of our former clients giving us praise for the hard work our lawyers did to fight for him.

Here’s a short synopsis of his testimony in PDF form, and here is video of Dan’s testimony. The part that mentions our law firm and the HHS mandate case starts around the 16:00 mark.

I would encourage all young (and older!) Catholic professionals to attend one of these events in your city if you have a chapter. It’s a great way just to hang out with others in the faith and possibly build yourself a little community of friends, if you’re lacking in that area.


St. John the Baptist – Ypsilanti – Sunday 4:30pm – February 18

Celebrant: Visiting priest – Msgr Patrick Marron

Initial thoughts: When you walk in and see a giant photo of your favorite Pope at the entrance to the sanctuary, pretty sure you’re in a good place. IMG-8844

And: “That’s one giant baptismal font.”


This is the entrance when you first come in, but when mass starts, you are instructed to enter on the side. There are ramps so you don’t just walk right into/onto what I would call “sacred ground.”  I was just a bit surprised that this was the entrance. But then, when you come in from the back…


I need to come up with a better word than “stunning.” But really…This is quite beautiful and for me, very unexpected.

I got there 30 minutes early, which is why you don’t see anyone in the pews in these pictures. The musicians were rehearsing and I have to say, they sounded so good in the rehearsal, that I actually became excited to hear them during the mass!

This church is considered to be the hub, I believe, for Catholics on Campus serving the the Eastern Michigan University and Washtenaw (I still can’t pronounce that word right) Community College. So there were many “Catholics on Campus” flyers in the gathering space on bulletin boards and whatnot. As people came in, you could see this was geared toward the college aged demo. However, there were still plenty of families and people my age there as well.

Homily Reflection: Monsignor Marron spoke on the gospel of Matthew 25; “Whatever you did for the least of these, you clothed me when I was naked, you fed me when I was hungry,” etc.

The Monsignor was there to discuss/promote his mission – Food for the Poor, a Christian non-profit organization that serves 17 countries. He was a very good speaker, a wonderful and moving story-teller, calling us to see Jesus present in the poor.

Some of the points that resonated: “All of us have a right to live. We also have a right to continue living until a natural end. But there are basic necessities that will help us do that and we all have a right to these: Food, clean water, housing, medical attention when needed, an education (to get a job) and clothing.

How do we put Matthew 25 into practice? By continuing the ministry of Jesus. What we do for them, we do for Him. What we DON’T do for them, we DON’T do for Him.”

You know how sometimes a talk/lecture/homily from someone can make you feel like you’re the worst person in the world? Or you feel anger because you think you’re being judged? Fr. Marron didn’t make me feel that way. He made me feel like it was my duty to help the least of these, (it is!) but he didn’t make me feel like I should do it out of guilt. I should do it because Jesus says to. Because we are called to. And I found myself delighted and happy to help someone. And that’s what it should feel like when we give alms, right? Not like it’s a drag or we’re giving something up. It should feel freeing! The more you give, the more you feel detached from these things. It sounds so counter-intuitive but I assure you, the less you have, the more free you are.

Holy Moments: The music. Oh my gosh the music!!! I can’t get over how captivating and sweet-sounding these three young people sounded. The music they created with the keyboard, a guitar and cello and their pitch perfect voices was just so fantastic. I should have recorded some of it on my phone. They should put out an album. Seriously. I would bet they’re music majors too. So shout out to whoever you are, you were so talented. Thank you for your gift of song/music!

By the way, have you thanked YOUR music minister lately? You really should. 🙂

Until next time…Happy Lent!

St. Andrew in Saline, Patrick Coffin, and The Rose Mass for the Unborn


Saint Andrew the Apostle – Saline, MI – Wednesday – 7pm – January 17th

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Celebrant: Fr. Francis

Initial Thoughts: I walked in just as some sort of youth group was concluding with what seemed like 2nd or 3rd graders sitting and listening to a catechist tell them, “We need to be quiet because people are coming in for Reconciliation and Confession.” Very sweet (and humorous) to see about 50 kids turn around and stare at me as I was the only one there.

Homily Reflection: Fr. made a great humorous comment about the 1st reading which ends with these words:

Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

To which the lector then says: “The Word of the Lord” and we respond “Thanks be to God.” 

…he cut off his head – Thanks be to God! What a thing to say!

He had a few more things to say about 1st and 2nd Samuel being about this desire for God – this passion that the people at that time had to say “I’ve come to do your will.” Fr. remarked that maybe we’ve lost that passion today. Most of all, the people wanted to be faithful. And he concluded by challenging us to reclaim that desire to be a faithful people.

Holy Moments: Confession before mass was a wonderful gift, but I actually enjoyed the quiet in between the time that confession ended and mass began. They played some Gregorian chants and dimmed the lights while people went to Reconciliation. I took the time pray but I also looked around at the folks waiting in line. You had a Mom with her kids and having them line up and sit as quietly as they could as she ushered them in to go to the priest. Then she took her turn. There was the young man who sat and waited with his head and his hands. I prayed hard for him. There was the older man who seemed to be at peace and joyful as he exited the confessional. It just made me feel so blessed to be Catholic and to have access to this Sacrament, where we hear Jesus say, “You are forgiven.”

And this actually serves as a great transition to my next Chuch on the list…St. John Vianney.

St. John Vianney – Shelby Township, MI – January 21 – Patrick Coffin

Celebrant: No one, (duh) since it wasn’t a mass but I’m checking this one off the list for the Daily Mass Project since I made the 53 minute trip, in the dark, in the fog, just to see one of my favorite speakers, Patrick Coffin.

His talk entitled, “Ignite!” was about an hour long and was meant to inform and educate those of us in the Catholic church on how we are called to be disciples, that we are meant to live lives of holiness, and that we need to work on spreading this Good News. But, too often we are “lukewarm” about the faith and therefore, a ton of people are leaving it! Not good. But the Good News is that Jesus did indeed instruct us, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts necessary to speak the truth in love to those who are open to hearing it. We aren’t going to convert anyone. But we can begin to help them see that there is a God who loves them, who created them, and wants them to be happy. In fact, it’s a great summary of Unleash the Gospel from Archbishop Vigneron, which you can read here.

You can listen to the talk here.

Some of my favorite talking points from Patrick:

“We [Catholics] have access to the God of the Universe as present in the tabernacle as He will be at the end of history when He returns. As present in the tabernacle as He was when He walked on this earth, when the most beautiful Jewish woman in the world said Yes to an angel’s marriage proposal at the Annunciation. We have this amazing gift.”

” The last words of Blessed Solanus Casey before he died are the words that we should be saying everyday. That should be our prayer. “Lord I give you my soul!”

“You can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t have this indispensable amount of understanding about who Jesus is, you’re not going to be an effective disciple. It doesn’t mean you have to read big fat books, it doesn’t mean you have to be Thomas Aquinas. It just means you have to be willing to say Yes to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through your life.”

“Nothing here below lasts forever. So we have to be careful about whom and what we hitch our horse to. We have to belong first and foremost to Jesus Christ.”

There was a time for Q&A afterwards which brought up a number of different topics like  how to handle family members with SSA, to how to bring back lapsed Catholics to the Church, and the difference between being repentant and being forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. <—-this was my favorite part because it prompted Patrick to speak these words which I love to reflect on:

“When we confess our sins, we are obeying what Christ wants for us and what we’re made to do. We want to confess our sins. We’re just chicken to. We’ve done things we can’t undo. We’ve hurt people…We need a Savior. We need someone to take those sins away. To delete them.”

“Our Lord knows us quite well. He knows what we need and we need to hear the words: “I absolve you.” And that I is not Fr. Smith or Bishop so and so, that’s Christ Himself. “I absolve you from your sins.” There’s no more beautiful words. That’s the most exquisite form of I love you, “I absolve you from your sins.”

Indeed. The most exquisite form of I love you. Indeed it is.

The Rose Mass for the Pre-born – OLGC- January 24th

IMG-1774Most folks know me as unapologetically pro-life, no exceptions. And this Rose Mass has always intrigued me. I had heard about it over a year ago, hoping to do something very similar at my church in Cleveland. Well, God had some pretty big plans in mind because not only did I get to witness this mass this year, I was an active participant. Click here to watch it (already queued up for you to watch the “Rose Walk.”) IMG-8804It was such an honor to be asked to read the reflections for each year abortion has been legal in this country. As I read each reflection, a walker came up to the sanctuary and placed a rose in an empty crib. Walkers choose the year for a number of reasons – it could be the year they were born, it could be the year they were married, for some, it’s the year their aborted child would have been born. We never know the reasons they choose the year, but it’s not necessary to know. What’s important to see and to hear the impact legalized abortion has had on all of us. IMG-8789(1)It was quite emotional towards the end, as it’s tradition to have a pregnant woman walk up for the final year. I couldn’t help but choke up as I read the final words as 45 people stood at the front of the worship space next to a crib with all 45 roses placed in it. Representing the 60 million unborn babies that didn’t get chance to live. It should cause us all to stop and think of how we can be a voice for the unborn.


In the words of Fr. Prentice, who was the celebrant for this mass, “Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady to put an end to abortion. This must stop.”



Close Encounters, Last Chance Mass and a Lesson on the Basilians

St. John Neumann – Canton, MI – January 2nd

Celebrant: Fr. Manny Chircop, CSB (Congregation of St. Basil) – Appropriate he was the celebrant on this, the feast day of St. Basil “and some other guy.” 🙂

Initial Thoughts: I saw the words “Established 1978” on the wall as I walked in to the gathering space. But as I walked into the worship space I thought, “No. There is no way this place looked like THIS in 78.” Turns out, SJN did indeed have a reconstruction revamp about a year ago. I would be curious as to what it looked like prior to this, but needless to say, it looks very up-to-date and modern. Lots of natural light.

Homily Reflection: Fr. Manny apologized for going “off script” but he couldn’t let this feast day go by without a word about the Basilian Fathers, which is his order. So the homily was about his experience with this order and how he came to join them. In a nutshell, he was a teacher at an inner city school, they were looking for a place to have a retreat, found a retreat center in Pontiac, Michigan run by Basilians, he was so impressed with how they ran the retreat that he joined the retreat house and then later, joined the order.

He was most impressed with how the Basilians tried to blend in with most of the laity. They didn’t wear a collar nor any outstanding garb that would make them stand out as Fathers. They didn’t push their values on anyone. They didn’t want anyone thinking that they were better than anyone else.

Fr. relayed this back to the Gospel by saying that John the Baptist could have taken on a high and mighty role/attitude – But he was not there for himself – he was there for the people, as if to say, “No, don’t pay attention to me, pay attention to the one who is to come.” Fr. concluded by asking us to pray for this group of men, the Basilians, to remain humble and simple, to educate and to teach in school and in all walks of life and to continue to inspire young men to their order.

Holy Moments: Fr. asked before the end of mass if there were any birthdays or anniversaries that day. A woman behind me, named Sarah, was pointed out and so the whole congregation sang Happy Birthday to her. A sweet idea!

26231970_928056427362721_5702370253614707561_oEncounter Ministries Conference – Christ The King- Ann Arbor – January 4th, 5th and 6th

Forgive the longevity of this experience but I promise this is the shortest I could make it:

I’m not even sure where to begin but I will just say this was my very first experience at Christ The King, which is a charismatic parish in Ann Arbor. Encounter Ministries is described as a ministry that “exists to train and equip disciples to manifest the love and power of the Holy Spirit in their own sphere of influence.”

I heard about this particular conference on social media and at the urging of a friend, and after seeing my pastor, Fr. John Riccardo as well as Dr. Mary Healy listed as keynote speakers, I registered. I didn’t even do any research on Encounter Ministries prior to registering, except for watching this YouTube video of Fr. Mathias a couple of days prior.

The first night of the conference was Thursday night. I saw a ton of people from my own parish of OLGC but I actually ran into a young adult friend from Cleveland, who was there with many of her classmates from the University of Akron. After speaking with her for several minutes, I found a seat next to my good friend Karen. I told her this was my first time at something like this and she remarked that I was “going to be fully immersed in the Holy Spirit,” or something to that effect. I was really excited and just prayed for continued receptivity to whatever I was going to experience.


Fr. Mathias began the evening by speaking on sort of an “Intro to the Baptism of the Holy Spirit” but also spoke about his own journey and how he felt called to a healing ministry. He made several references to Scripture from the book of Acts but wanted to focus more on getting the message that this is for everyone, not just for extroverts or missionaries. Everyone needs the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. He asked us to think about the apostles BEFORE and then AFTER Pentecost = Before, they were afraid, they hid and they denied. But AFTER, they couldn’t shut up! Without Pentecost, there’s no power and there’s no evangelization. The same is true today.

And so that’s what he called us to – a New Pentecost for a New Evangelization, a renewed desire for prayer, for praise, to read Scripture, to share the gospel, more victory over sin, a desire for community and most of all – JOY.

There was a lot more that was said but those are as far as my notes got me. He then asked us to bow our heads and he was going to baptize us in the Holy Spirit. I’m still a little confused as to this whole thing but all I know is I almost immediately started crying as soon as he asked us to bow our heads. It came out of nowhere. But then it wasn’t so much sadness as much as it was repentance, or at least a feeling of repentance. Fr. was speaking words into the mic but I can’t recall all the phrases he was saying, I just remember feeling a sense of tingling and warmth coming over me.

A short time later we were instructed to have the person next to us pray over us. So that meant Karen laid hands on me and prayed over me. I felt that same warmth and although I didn’t shed tears, I felt like God was trying to say something. I even felt, at one point, like I was weightless, almost like I could float away any minute. VERY strange but a GOOD strange. Luckily, Karen seems to have some gifts that the Lord has blessed her with and said that she felt the Lord asking me to praise him out loud (more). I don’t really praise God as much as I thank God out loud. But I thought, if this is what the Lord is asking me to do, then I’ll be obedient to that. So if that was the only message I was to receive the entire Encounter conference, I was content with that. I mean, God has given me the gift of gab. He wants me to speak His name more? I can definitely do that. 😉

Friday night was Fr. John’s turn to give his talk. I would categorize it as a call to back to reality.  It was a nice balance, I think. He started out discussing the famous Rublev icon of The Trinity, which he’s given a homily on before, here (around the 5:30 mark) . He then discussed Matthew 9:35-38. Jesus has compassion – meaning internal turmoil. Why this response? Because we are like sheep without a shepherd – meaning we are torn, weary, ripped apart, mangled, helpless, tossed aside, thrown down. Before he discussed what Jesus did, he mentioned exactly what Jesus doesn’t do:

He doesn’t throw his hands up in frustration

He doesn’t yearn for the good old days

He doesn’t vent on social media

He doesn’t condemn those who are lost

He doesn’t act – He tells the disciples to pray for HIM to act and to reclaim His creation. But only if we’ll be the kinds of laborers He has in mind.

After a brief reflection on St. Francis of Assisi, Fr. John then went into details of why some people are not healed. Why do some people suffer? Why does the Lord allow this to go on? In his opinion, (and I concur) he said that perhaps God wants to conform us to His Son, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. If we all long for an encounter of His love, then how far do we go? How much do we look like Jesus? Do we have the Sacred Heart of Jesus? And what does that look like? Fr. remarked that to have the heart of Jesus means you are present, you are attentive to the needs of others, you express care and concern for the other. He asked us to pray to God and show us: “How far is my heart from Jesus?”

Saturday, Dr. Mary Healy spoke before the vigil mass. Her talk was AMAZING.  She spoke about so many things but my favorite part, aside from an unexpected reference to the movie The Bourne Identity, was her explanation of the Prodigal Son. She talked about the older son/brother and how we as a Church can sometimes have that same attitude towards others, especially those who are new. How can we help the lost if this is our mentality? And here was the kicker question: “What if the prodigal son would have ran into the older brother and NOT the Father as he came home?” What if that’s what it’s like when someone approaches US? Are we like the Father or are we like the older brother? Wow. Convicted much?  I could sit and marinate on that for hours.

Fr. Ed, the pastor of Christ the King, gave a great homily on Saturday but for some reason, I didn’t take notes. You would think, my first charismatic mass but no notes. Not one! Big time fail on my part.

After mass was dinner in which I made a fool of myself gushing over Dr. Healy for the second time so that was nice and embarrassing for me. After dinner, was the big Worship session followed by testimonials from 3 different people.

All of their experiences were different but the underlying theme was “I wasn’t so sure about this. I had my misgivings/doubts, but I knew God wanted me to use this gift.”  I had no reason to doubt their personal experiences of healing others. But a very small part of me, thought “This is good for them, but I’m not so sure that’s my gift.”  I would LOVE to be able to pray over someone and heal them but is this really a gift that God grants to all of us? Even if we ask for it? Something to think about…

To conclude, if Fr. Mathias desired for all of us there to have a personal Pentecost so we can have the courage to share our experiences with others, then I would say that desire was met in me: I experienced a personal Pentecost of the Father affirming me in my identity of being a beloved daughter, I’m using the gifts He has given me, especially with regards to teaching, and He is pleased with what I’ve done so far. He wants me to openly praise Him more often, to remember that all that happens is because He wants union, and that all the work He has done in my life is due to my obedience to His will, not my own. All glory to Him! 

St. John’s Chapel – 7pm – Sunday January 14th

Celebrant: Fr. Walt

Initial Thoughts: This chapel is part of a large retreat center and banquet hall, hence the long and narrowness (is that a word?) of the layout. I’ve grown accustomed to sitting across from one another since this is the same set up as the chapel at Domino’s Farms. I walked in 30 minutes early so was able to get the pictures, although there are better ones on their website .

Something I noticed right away was there was no crucifix, but I happened to be sitting across from the 12th Station of the Cross, so I gazed on that for awhile. I was trying to figure out who exactly comes to this last chance mass (which, I found out is NOT the last chance mass in the area – apparently there’s a 9pm in the area). But it was a pretty packed chapel with various types – singles, couples, families, older. A true variety pack.

Homily Reflection: A month from today we’ll be in Lent! Today’s readings remind us to be be still and allow ourselves time to get away from the noise. Not just the audible noise but the noise we see, like social media feeds and Instagram photos and news headlines on the tv and internet. Samuel, in the first reading, quieted his heart so God could speak to Him and that’s what we are called to do during this Ordinary Time.

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus’ very first words he spoke. He asked a question: “What are you looking for?” Well, what are WE looking for? Jesus tells the apostles, “Come and see.” He extends the invitation into His life. They could hear and see clearly because they were receptive, and that’s what we are called to be as well.

Holy Moments: The cantor and the music minister on the piano were both outstanding! I don’t know if it’s because this place has awesome acoustics or what, but both were really pleasing to listen to. You know how you can tell someone is smiling as they are singing? I think she was that way, especially for the final song.

If I ever want to end my weekend on a high note, especially in the evening, I’m coming back to St. John’s, most definitely.

Until next time…

Daily Mass Project Wrap Up 2017

The final tally is 82 parishes/masses that I made it to in 2017. 58 of those were in the Diocese of Cleveland, the rest were in Detroit and then a few in cities that I was visiting including East Lansing, Notre Dame, Elkhart, Sanibel, D.C., and Toledo. Of course, I went to daily mass more than 82 times in the year, but only blogged about 82 of the experiences.

In talking to some friends just yesterday about the DMP, they remarked that it was amazing that I could remember details about each one. They asked how was I able to retain all of that information. I responded that it helped that I wrote it all down. But the best memories I didn’t really need to write down, but I’m glad I did! From meeting Henry the hugger at St. Jude’s in Elyria, to crashing a wedding with my friend Kristen at Sweetest Heart of Mary, to finding out that I heard one of the last homilies given by Fr. Dunphy at St. Martin of Tours, and witnessing my friend’s Fr. Jim and Fr. Anthony say their first masses as newly ordained priests, this was quite the year and quite the project. And it’s one I’m happy to continue for as long as I’m able.

I took it upon myself to make a little Wrap-Up/Best of the Best post. I’m sure those who have visited other parishes will have a different opinion on my “awards” and to those people I will say, “My blog, my rules.”  🙂

Top 3 Holy Moments:

1. Receiving a traveler’s blessing from Fr. Jim Cosgrove – St. Christopher – Rocky River

On the day I was leaving to move to Plymouth, my dear friend Fr. Jim gave me a blessing in front of the whole congregation.

2. Two 7th grade girls singing Pie Jesu –  Sacred Heart – Wadsworth –

Thankfully I was able to record a good portion of it. I get the goosebumps listening to it. These young girls did so well. I would bet they will grow up to be gifted cantors.

3. St Hugo of the Hills – Bloomfield Hills, MI– Witnessing the Renewal of Vows of Dolores and Raymond, two people I’ve never met. But what a beautiful witness of 50 years of marriage!

Best Singing/Hymn:

St. Bartholomew – Middleburgh Heights – “How Great Thou Art”

All 4 stanzas and every single one sung with the same enthusiasm as the first. And this is coming from not only the choir, but the congregation. No one left early. My all-time favorite singing moment.

Best “Flatware:”

Holy Martyrs – Medina

I don’t know if anyone ever notices the chalice and the ciborium but I’m telling you, if you would have seen these at Holy Martyrs, you’d be impressed. You’ll have to take my word for it.

The Breathtaker:

Sweetest Heart Of Mary – Detroit

Best Homily Reflection:

St. Martin of Tours – Fr. Thomas Dunphy

Best Exterior Design:

Cathedral of the Holy Rosary – Toledo

Best Interior Design:

Category – Chapel – Holy Angels – Bainbridge

Category – Worship Space – St. Michael – Independence

Category – Stations of the Cross (Indoors) – St. Martin of Tours – Valley City

Category – Stations of the Cross (Outdoors) – Malvern Retreat Center – Malvern, PA

Category – Baptismal Font – Resurrection – Solon

Category – Best Use of Stained Glass – Assumption – Broadview Heights

Category – Best Stained Glass DesignSt. Sebastian – Akron

Category – Best Use of a Small Space – St. Patrick- (Bridge Ave) – Cleveland

Category – Best Sanctuary – Communion of Saints – University Heights

Category – Most “Awe”-some Crucifix – St. Albert the Great – North Royalton

Best Small Town Feel:

St Thomas the Apostle – Sheffield Lake

The Church I Wish Was In My Backyard:

St. Martin of Tours – Valley City

The Once-In-A-Lifetime Mass:

Ford Field – Beatification of Solanus Casey

The One Where I Felt Closest to God:


There you have it! DMP 2017 wrapped up and now we are on to 2018.

I’ll be attending the churches of all churches as I travel to the Holy Land for EASTER. It’s going to be life-changing, no doubt.

As for the future, I’m so excited to continue on this little project of mine here in Detroit. But CLE will always be my home. I do plan on making frequent visits back so I can check a few more parishes off the list.

Happy 2018!

Daily Mass Project: MisADVENTures

Saint Columbkille – Parma, OH – Saturday 12/9


I don’t think it would be fair to do a tried and true Daily Mass Project blog post on dear St. Columbkille because I took zero notes on the day I attended. I have fond memories of this parish growing up. I seem to remember attending an evening mass or two here or maybe we went when our parents just wanted to go someplace different than our home parish? I just know I would stare at that back wall behind the hanging crucifix. I couldn’t find a picture of the interior but you can tell from the outside photo here…

colum2…that the roof slopes. I would just look up and be mesmerized by it. It was unlike anything I had seen.

I also remember thinking it was a little strange to see the Gospel writers names unevenly placed on the wall. And “Matt??” Really?

Other than that, the last time I went to mass here was when I graduated high school in 1996. And it has stayed pretty much the exact same. 🙂

One nagging question remains:  Just who the heck was St. Columbkille anyways? What kind of a name is that?

His name, Google tells me, was Columb. He was born in Ireland. And he was a gifted poet and musician. After he became a monk…

…he had founded no less than 27 Irish monasteries, including those at Derry, Durrow, and Kells, as well as some 40 churches. His work for the Church gained him the addition of “kille” to his name. Columb means “dove” in Gaelic and kille is “church”, so he came to be known as the “church’s dove.”

The more you know…

Saint Michael – Independence, OH- 4th Sunday of Advent


It’s probably not fair to attend churches during Advent because I really want to crown this one as my favorite in Cleveland that I went to this year. It’s just the perfect size: Not too small, not too big, just the right amount of decor, the stained glass is in these muted colors and not super “rainbow bright,” (just checking to see if my buddy Dennis is reading this). The stations of the cross were simple but really beautiful…IMG-8689

The only thing I noticed is that for a church that is named St. Michael, I didn’t see any actual statue of St. Michael. Unless I am missing it?? I did see this icon:


But I’m partial to statues. 🙂  He may have been in a Stained Glass window that I didn’t see. I was particularly in love with this one:


Celebrant: Fr. Peter Colletti

Initial Thoughts: Besides what I just said, I was greeted by this super friendly priest who as he walked up and down the aisle before mass; Overall it has a family and warm vibe from the get-go. I suppose it could have just been because of the occasion but I got the sense it’s always like this.

The bulletin was the hymnal and the missal! Innovative! And no worries about people scrambling to find the page numbers for songs. IMG-8696

And the tabernacle…Assuming those angels are always there? Beautiful! IMG-8698

Homily Reflection: Despite having almost no voice to speak (not a good thing for a pastor to have the flu/get sick for Christmas!) Fr. gave a great summary of the first reading from 2 Samuel about King David and building a house for God. I gotta say, I probably would have zoned out but this is the number one reason people should read the readings a week ahead of time before going to mass: I had listened to Bishop Robert Barron’s podcast for this Sunday and heard his explanation of this 1st reading. It really helps because he puts it in plain language. If I hadn’t, I think I would have tuned out this first part of his homily because let’s be honest – We hear the first reading and if we have no clue what it means, we will lose interest within seconds (at least I do, especially if I haven’t read them ahead of time).

Long story short: David tells God “I’ll build you a house” and God is like, “You’re gonna make a house for ME? No. I’m going to make a house for YOU!” No one outdoes God on His gifts to us.

Fr. Peter then went on to talk about the Annunciation (the Gospel) and how he used to picture Mary “bowing” to the Angel Gabriel. But as he came to understand the Annunciation, he now believes Gabriel bowed to Our Lady.  He brought God’s proposal to her. “Can you imagine God proposing to a human being,” he asked.

He continued:

“The angel is here today and through Mary’s intercession we have a few more hours until Christmas. God bows before you and me, mere sinners, and asks “What about you?” Will you let religion go beyond something mechanical and allow yourself to be taken by God? He offers Himself to us as His very food. He waits…and Mary prays.”

And he concluded his homily leading us in a Hail Mary.

Saint Kenneth – Plymouth, MI – Tuesday – 12/26 – Feast of St. Stephen


Celebrant: Fr. Tom Belczak

Initial Thoughts: A whole church to myself? Don’t mind if I do!

I arrived 45 minutes before mass started. Got some of these great pictures and proceeded to sit down and have some alone time with Jesus.

After awhile, a woman slid down the pew behind me and asked if I was new to the parish. “Nope, I just go to OLGC and live down the street and thought I’d give St. Kenneth a little visit today.”

She informed me that they say the rosary before mass and it looks like it’s just her and I so would I mind praying with her? Came to find out her name is Betty and she was SUCH a God-send. Of course, everyone has a story. I loved meeting her and talking to her after mass. Turns out she attends OLGC a couple times a week so she and I will see each other again.

We began the mass with the devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Help; again, something I had never heard of until I moved here and started at OLGC. Parishioners at OLGC do this every Saturday morning after mass. Fr. Tom mentioned this in the homily…

Homily Reflection: Jesus isn’t just a baby; there will be suffering and trials and separations of families over the Lord.

The first reading is like a teaser/cliffhanger – Who is this Saul person and why should we care? Well, obviously, we’ll find out later that Saul is Paul after he has his conversion. We know that St. Stephen prayed for his persecutors, and that means Saul was being prayed for in that very moment.

How do we put Jesus’s journey of faith into our lives so that when obstacles come, can we still have the peace of Christ in our lives?

Referring to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Fr. Tom remarked that this was a popular Tuesday night devotional for him growing up. He said it was the only thing that was in English, so they went to it all the time!

But the best explanation of why we would pray this devotional, he said: “You know how when you’re little and you want to do something, you ask Dad and He says no? So what do you? You go and ask Mom for help.”

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us!

I may do a 2017 Daily Mass Project “Wrap-Up” post so stay tuned!


Screaming Babies, Losing Breviaries and Bishop Wisdom – Daily Mass Project

Assumption Grotto Church – Detroit, MI- December 8th -Feast of the Immaculate Conception – Tridentine Mass

Founded in 1832, this is the second oldest parish in the city of Detroit.



Celebrant: Fr. Perrone

Initial Thoughts: Ahhhh I love a good Latin mass. I was recently gifted a chapel veil so I was happy to have an excuse to wear it. I didn’t get any close up shots of the sanctuary or the stained glass but I remember just staring at those two windows up in the front and thinking what vivid colors! They reminded me (and yes this is a silly memory) but they reminded me of Rainbow Brite. And that reminded me of my childhood. And THAT reminded me of being a child at mass. Just made me feel nostalgic for the past. When the mass is being said in a language you don’t understand, there’s probably no better time than to have some of these “holy moments.”

I never tire of the reverence at these masses. It’s such an experience. I wish I could adequately put into words how these masses make me feel but I suppose that’s not really the point. It’s an experience of God that really can’t be articulated.

Homily Reflection: The only part in English. And it was stellar. I don’t know if you can call it a homily as much as you can call it a Exegesis. I was furiously taking notes but re-reading them now, they don’t make sense so I’m not even going to try.

So how about you just take a look at the pictures of their Marian shrine? 🙂

Apparently this is the oldest outdoor Marian shrine in Michigan:

St. Ambrose – Brunswick, OH – 12pm – 2nd Sunday of Advent


Celebrant: Fr. Adam Zajac

Gospel: Mark 1:1-8

I realize I’ve already blogged about this parish already but this was my first SUNDAY mass.

Quick Notes: Lots of singing at different parts that I wasn’t used to. Of course, I didn’t take any notes on that so now I can’t remember. But I believe they sang “Alleluia” AFTER the Gospel as well as before. And they sang “Lord hear our Prayers” (unless I’m getting my churches confused) after each petition.

Holy Moments: A man and a woman sat down directly behind me in the pews with their two granddaughters. They warned me ahead of time saying: “This is the first time we’ve brought the little ones to mass. So we’ll see how it goes!” The girls were adorable. Probably around ages 18 months and maybe 3. I categorize it as a “Holy Moment” because somehow, God gave me the patience to endure a total meltdown by the smaller girl right at the Eucharistic prayer. I felt worse for the grandparents who did a terrific job but couldn’t possibly have foreseen this little one tripping and falling in the pews (probably got stuck between the kneeler and the pew like so many kids do). They were troopers though. Gratefully, she calmed down by the time communion came around. I always think of how, although we would all admit that we can easily become distracted by “all those crying babies” at Church, the real kudos goes to the parents and grandparents who bring them. I will never give an eyeroll or a nasty look to a parent trying to wrangle their kids at mass. We should be happy and overjoyed to see the pews filled with babies and kids! I’ve grown to enjoy it. (The babies and the kids, not the crying or screaming part). 😉

Homily Reflection:  I wrote down a couple of lines that stuck out to me although you can read his entire homily here.

God is coming into our lives in a new and radical way, in a real and meaningful sense. We must realize that we pushed him out in a real and meaningful sense. Now is the time to acknowledge that we need him. We were made for more than the brokenness of this world.  

Amen Father!

St. Basil – Brecksville, OHClaimed by Love Young Adult Conference – Saturday Morning Mass with Aux. Bishop Roger Gries; Lunch and Adoration with Bishop Nelson Perez – December 17th


I was honored to be asked to be a part of this Young Adult Conference called Claimed By Love. It was the first YA conference in many years in the Cleveland Diocese and over 130 YA’s ages 18-35 attended. I was asked to be on the vocations panel as a Breakout session. I represented the Single vocation although I did answer questions on my discernment journey of Consecrated Virginity since it’s not well-known vocation. There was also a brother, a seminarian, a married couple and two religious sisters. A great opportunity to hear other vocation stories as well as answer questions from the “kids,” as I call the young adults.

Before all of this, Bishop Gries led us in the Saturday morning mass. Sadly, I didn’t take any notes on his beautiful homily which was a shame because he really had some great reflections on the gospel. (Bad job outta me!)

Fortunately, I did have some great things to write down from a mini-reflection from newly installed Bishop Nelson Perez later on that afternoon during some time of adoration:

He reflected on the 2nd reading for that Sunday which was 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, which says:

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophetic utterances.
Test everything; retain what is good.
Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.

Bishop Perez said we could spend an entire day just praying with that reading. He mentioned that no matter what our vocation is, we need to continue to listen to the Lord. To let God do the talking as we listen and wonder “What is God asking of me?” Because it’s not what WE want. It’s what God wants for us. As a baby, one of the first things we learn to say is “I want.” We’re always reaching as babies for what it is we want. But we have to grow out of that as adults. We can’t always say “I want, I want.” Because it might not be what God wants for us.

There was a lot grace poured out at this conference, including a really emotional and powerful testimony from the keynote speaker, Ron Nowak. I would say their first conference was a success and I know they intend to do more in the future. Our Young Adult community in the Catholic Church is very much overlooked, I feel, so it was really great to see them appreciated and to see an event *just* for them.

St Basil the Great – 7:30am – Gaudete Sunday

Nope, that’s not a typo. I went to the same church the following day for the Sunday mass. Honestly I went because I thought (and still believe) I left my breviary there in the pews the day before. Alas, no one turned it in. It was really bothering me because all 4 volumes were gifted to me by my good friend Ivi a year ago and they’ve made such a difference in my prayer life. I like PAPER and BOOKS. Praying with the iBreviary App is just not the same. It’s okay though because the more I thought about it, the more I realized that all my “precious books” are gifts. Everything is on loan. None of it is mine. So, whoever has my Breviary, I pray you find it to be fruitful for you. (I still have the other 3 volumes, so this isn’t the end of the world). But it’s the principle of the thing. I hate losing anything, especially when it was gifted to me.  Moving on…

Celebrant: Fr. Walt Jenne, Pastor

Initial Thoughts:  “Why am I here so early?” I don’t think I’ve ever attended a Sunday mass earlier than 9am in my life.

Two things that were of interest to me: A monthly prayer from Fr. Walt is prayed before each mass. This one was for Family Healing. The rest are listed here:


And the names of those in the military and those who are sick are on a banner!


I noticed they weren’t listed in the bulletin which is my personal preference because you can easily pick it up and read the names to pray for them. But, it is pretty special to see a name on the banner in the worship space, especially if it’s someone you know personally.

Before mass we were asked to stand up and greet one another. My pew neighbor was a man by the name of Scott. Super friendly and hospitable. In fact, Fr. Walt noted that many of the parishioners who join St. Basil’s say it’s because they are drawn to the hospitality of its members.

A little bit on that: Yes yes yes! The past two parishes that I’ve joined since my “reversion” I joined in part because they made me feel welcomed and appreciated from the moment I stepped into the door. I can’t tell you how key it is to have greeters at the Church doors. It sounds so minor (we don’t go to Church to be greeted) but it’s just like a company. I’ve had a ton of receptionist jobs where I was told over and over “You are the face of the company. The way you answer the phone or greet the client/customer when they walk in the door sets the tone for the rest of their experience.” When compared to a Church where no one looks you in the eye and there’s zero “warmth,” not even an acknowledgement of your presence, I’m joining the one that acknowledges my dignity as a child of God.

Homily Reflection: “God uses the anointed. God chooses to work thru those who are anointed (we are all baptized, therefore we are anointed) to accomplish great things. But this is totally dependent on what we DO with what we are given.”  Fr. proceeded to tell the story of the barber who cuts the hair of autistic and disable children. His story went viral when the mother of an autistic boy took a photo of him on the floor with her son.


The barber, Franz Jacob was quoted as saying,  “I’m taking great pride doing this. It’s really an honor.”  Fr Walt said that this is a story of what what we do with the gifts we are given to be instruments of God. 

I have officially lost count of the parishes I made it to in Cleveland. I will attempt to get a final count after next weekend when my final one for the year (in CLE) will be the Spanish mass at Sacred Heart in Lorain. My buddy Fr. Mike is the celebrant and having yet to attend a mass in a language other than English (or Latin) I thought why not!

And finally, a shout out to my buddy Brian in Brecksville who has hit the 100 Churches mark. Well done my friend! Only 85 more to go to hit all of them in Cleveland!