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.”¬† ūüôā

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:

All.


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 – Goodbye CLE, Hello DET

I haven’t even been in Michigan a month and it’s already been quite the whirlwind. I’ve attended mass everyday since I’ve been here, which is such a gift. It’s also *easy* to attend everyday since I work for a company that has daily mass available 3 times a day in our chapel.¬† I’m still wishing I could have finished my “project” in Cleveland before moving but physically it was impossible. Altogether I think the final tally was around 65 parishes visited in CLE alone. I’ve already picked up here in Detroit where I left off in Cleveland, and will continue to try and promote daily mass as something to be shared and attended as often as possible to the people here in DET.¬† Our bishop, Allen Vigneron, recently wrote a pastoral letter called Unleash the Gospel. Upon reading it, I felt further “affirmed” in my calling to move to his great city. I hope other dioceses follow in this Archbishop’s footsteps and start to create “joyful missionary disciples.”

Saint Christopher – Rocky River – Thursday July 27th

I spent my final Daily Mass Project in Cleveland by attending St. Chris in Rocky River where my buddy, the newly ordained, Fr. Jim Cosgrove, has been assigned. He just happened to be presiding at the 11am mass on the day I was moving to Plymouth Michigan so he asked me if I would like a traveler’s blessing during the intercessions. How can anyone pass up a blessing?

So besides a beautiful homily reflecting about answering God’s call, he actually starting talking about me! I’ve never been the subject of someone’s homily. ūüôā After a few words about me moving to “enemy territory” in Ann Arbor, he had such sweet words to say about my passion for Theology of the Body and how I’ve literally answered God’s call to move here. If I wasn’t turning three shades of red as people turned around to look at me, I probably would have started tearing up. He brought me forward to the front of the church during the intercessions and had me face the congregation as close to 100 of these total strangers raised their hand to pray over me. I have NEVER felt such peace from being prayed over before.

Afterwards I had several people there come up to me to ask me where exactly I was moving to, (Plymouth) who will I be working for (Thomas More Law Center) and which parish would I be joining (Our Lady of Good Counsel). As I started to tell them about the DMP and how I was trying to get pictures of their beautiful church, one by one they said none of them actually belonged to St. Christopher! It was pretty funny – they were only there because it’s the only parish in the vicinity with an 11am daily mass. So its very well attended.

Clearly that’s Fr. Jim in the photo above. I just adore him and he’s SUCH a gifted homilist (is that a real word?) and priest. It’s so obvious that he’s going to thrive there. Love you Fr. Jim! Thank you again for the prayer – it worked perfectly! ūüôā

Sidenote: I see on their website that they have a video of the art and architecture of St. Christopher. Check it out! Turns out another buddy of mine, Joshua, edited the video. Nice work Josh!


Ste. Anne de Detroit – 2nd Oldest Church in America!

The Young Catholic Professionals of Detroit kicked off their first event in the parking lot of this church in Detroit. After some mingling and drinks, they opened the church up to us all for a mini-tour. I thought it was definitely Gods timing that this was the first church I visited after I moved up here. I had no idea it was the 2nd oldest in our country.

There’s a lot more to say about this place, obviously, but in the meantime, visit their website to learn all about it!


St. Joseph Oratory – Detroit – High Mass – Friday August 4th 7pm

Well now THIS was an experience! I attended my  first High Mass at this newly established parish.

If I could sum up the entire experience in one word it would definitely be reverent. Even though the entire mass is in Latin and you may not understand exactly what is being said, you are still witnessing something extra-ordinary. When there was chanting going on, I would look around at the statues or the stained glass or the side altar. There was so much beauty all around. It didn’t even matte that it was in a different language. If anything, that made it all the more lovely.

We didn’t find out until afterwards, but the priest (actually the Rector and I think you refer to them as Canons) who celebrated this mass was just ordained and this was his very first mass after being installed as Pastor of St. Joseph Oratory.

As my friend Kristen described it, “It was like a dance! A beautiful dance.”¬† You would watch him and the servers (Pretty sure they are called Deacons) assist him and he went from one side of the sanctuary to the other, as he chanted one part and spoke another part. All the while, you couldn’t help but get this sense that something other-worldly was taking place.

This being my first mass like this I assumed I would have to receive on the tongue at the communion rail. Thankfully a friend of mine whispered to me to *not say Amen after he presented me with the Body of Christ. You simply open your mouth to receive without saying anything. (Good to know!)

I went back to the pew after communion and just reflected on what had just happened to me. Technically, this was no different than any other time I received the Eucharist, right? And yet, it WAS different. I felt this incredible sense of awe and reverence and wonder at the entire thing. I attribute this to several parts of the experience but two in particular: 1. Being on my knees and looking up. That’s a humbling posture to take and it’s what we are SUPPOSED to do, right? Especially to show reverence for God. 2. The bells rang during the consecration. The CHURCH bells, not just the chimes that the servers typically ring. It sounds like no big deal typing it out now, but that’s the most important part of the mass. I almost started crying. I have started crying or tearing up at some masses I’ve attended and it’s usually at the part where I realize I am truly unworthy to receive Jesus. And whether it was the bells or the chanting or the statues or the overall beauty of this place, I left there thinking about how many times I’ve “casually” received communion, without even really thinking about the GIFT that I have just received. I’m sure this has happened plenty of times to me. I don’t know if attending Latin Mass repeatedly will “fix” it, but I do know I have since prayed that I never become complacent in my adoration for Christ.


Next up: The DMP continues in DET.¬† Our Lady of Victory in Northville, St. Priscilla’s in Livonia and a few homily reflections from our priests at my new home parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel.

The Celebration That Never Ends

“Sport is a universal language that brings together peoples, and can help persons meet and overcome conflicts. Therefore, I encourage you to live the dimension of sports as the gymnasium of virtue in the full development of individuals and communities.” – Pope Francis

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It figures.

It figures that the one time my beloved city of Cleveland did something relevant and timely and AWESOME and RARE by winning a CHAMPIONSHIP, I was on a retreat.

Of course I was. Where else would I be?

In my quest to pursue the full certiication from the TOB Insititute, I decided it would be a great idea to take a week-long course for Theology of the Body in Pennsylvania. Day 1 of the retreat started the night of Game 7 of the Finals.

Great timing.

Now this may be starting out as a pity party for me, but hold on.

Yes, I missed out on high-fiving my family members and my friends who were watching the game at home or at bars or at watch parties. I missed seeing the team come home to thousands of people at the airport. I missed the million+ attended parade. I missed it all but there’s something to be said for social media at this point ¬†– the pictures and videos I saw of all of this was a sufficient substitute for being there in person. I was never more proud of my city and fellow Clevelanders. And to completeley honest, I needed to stop idolizing sports. So this was actually a great way to detach from it and realize there is much more to life than sports.

But of course that didn’t stop me from watching the final 5 minutes of the game. ūüôā

Those (very few) of us that watched the last moment of the game on our little mobile devices at the retreat center screamed and shouted and celebrated once that final buzzer sounded and the game was over. We remarked how it seemed like we were in disbelief. I know I was! I didn’t really celebrate until I saw about a minute or two of the team on the court. Then it became “real.” But even the next day, so many people remarked on how surreal it was.¬†I myself even posted:

“Is this real life? Did this really happen? We WON something!?”

To the outsider, yes, it’s just sports. It’s entertainment. And those of us who are fans had nothing to do with the team winning this trophy. But when people, complete strangers, are crying and hugging each other and smiling and saying “We did it! We won!” you get this feeling in your heart that says, “We are united in this!” Even if it’s just for this one brief moment.

There are far more important things that will (and have) taken over the headlines in the week since the Cavs won this championship. I noticed one of my friends posted something on Facebook about how this world is so messed up (she used much more colorful language) when more people are celebrating the Cavs win than focusing on gun control in the wake of some recent violence in this country.

(Instead of responding directly I was inspired to write this post. So thank you for the inspiration, friend!)

Of course we should focus on preventing violence, ending terrorism, looking for cures for diseases, feeding the hungry, etc. The problems we have in this world are endless. But can we allow ourselves to celebrate for a brief moment?

Those that just want to despair and complain and lament that this country¬†has its problems and we’re too busy celebrating a silly basketball game to take notice isn’t fair.

Where’s the allowance for joy to balance out all the evil being done in this world? Isn’t it nice, once in a while, to take a breather from the bad to relish in the good?

I think we can use the escape of sports entertainment to briefly take our minds into something “other worldly.” Some that feels like a dream, especially to the fans who live in the city that WINS. ¬†Allow people to be joyful. Allow their¬†smiles to bring back memories for you when you celebrated something with your favorite team or when you were with family or friends at a party, a wedding, a graduation, etc.

And here’s something you may not know: That dreamy feeling does last forever. But only in one place. It’s a place that puts a¬†record breaking parade to shame. A place where the feeling of a championship win occurs every time someone enters there. ¬†Some don’t believe it exists. But many of us do. And that’s what I live for. That feeling of never-ending bliss. That’s what keeps me going.

Dr. Bob Rice from Franciscan University at Steubenville wrote about this place that also served as inspiration for this post today:

Imagine this: You close your eyes for the last time on this earth, and when you open them again, you are in a different place. It is the most beautiful place you have ever seen. Before you is the finish line. As you head toward it, you see deceased family members calling your name and shouting for joy. You see angels and saints clapping and shouting louder and louder. Behind the finish line you see Jesus, with a huge smile and His arms outstretched. As you break through the finish line into his arms, all of creation erupts in song. He then puts you on a pedestal and, in front of all of creation, he places on your head the crown of life. It is the most incredible moment you will ever experience. And it will continue forever.

How beautiful is that?!?

I know not everyone believes. And it’s still hard for me sometimes to truly believe this, too.

But if there are people walking around¬†just assuming there’s NOTHING at the end of life, well…what would be the point of all of this? What in the world are you living for if you don’t think there’s an endgame?

There’s gotta be an epilogue to this life. ¬†That’s how I get through the depressing and dark times and awful¬†headlines that I read every day.

I try my very hardest to live in the moment,¬†knowing the ultimate celebration awaits us all. God-willing, I’ll see you there. And the best part?¬†¬†EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY!!!