What a glorious summer it has been so far. I closed on my house as scheduled on June 24th. I sold the rest of my sound equipment and basically have just my personal keepsakes in storage for the next 4 years. God has blessed me richly through this process and continues to show His love for me.
I spent one week at Diocesan Summer Youth Camp at Robber’s Cave State Park in southeast Oklahoma. It was with about 120 high schoolers and was filled with activities and good times. I was one of three cooks preparing meals and snacks for everyone – I am glad I do not work in the food preparation business. I spent one afternoon with some of the kids at a nursing home in Wilburton singing and visiting with the residents. It was a good service project for the kids and me. We also had daily Mass and one evening of Adoration and a Penitential Service. It is quite a good program and as I see it, a good model for any youth organization.
I have helped with the Youth Group at St. Bernard’s (went to Six Flags on a trip and will help with a retreat next week). I think there are a lot of good kids out there and they want to be heard and involved. This has given me a good bit of exposure into what they talk about and their concerns. I am also getting a lot of hands on ministry opportunity with elderly, sick and just people in need. I had a very unique opportunity to preach at a funeral of a friend’s mother. She was not Catholic, but because of the unavailability of her Pastor, they asked me to fill in. I asked my Associate Pastor before accepting and was given the go ahead. It was an experience that I will never forget – spending time with the family and getting to know better their mom, grandmother, aunt, great-grandmother and friend through their eyes. Then taking those stories and emotions and building a fitting tribute to her. I used the Rite of Christian Burial and chose appropriate readings and prayers and trusted in the Holy Spirit to guide me. It was a nice service and the family said it would have been just how she would have wanted it. God again opens a door into ministry and I am again humbled and honored by the power of His love in my life and relationships.
The summer is going so fast. This weekend is my 30 year high school class reunion, then a Life Awareness Retreat where I will work on staff and do music, then a Seminarian Retreat and then almost time for school again. In mid-August I am traveling to New Jersey to attend the Priests for Life convention (the Broken Arrow, OK Knights of Columbus has given me a scholarship to attend – THANK YOU KNIGHTS!) and am really looking forward to it. To learn more you can go to http://www.priestsforlife.org and learn about the organization, the conference and the awesome way they promote pro-life issues. I am really looking forward to meeting Fr. Frank Pavone and learning more about what we can do to make an impact. If you are a seminarian or priest that is going to be there, or think you may go, drop me an email and we can talk.
Last night I spent some time in music ministry and speaking to some people about sin and our need to be free from its bondage on us. As the Holy Spirit gave me the words to say and the direction to take, it became obvious that so many people are slaves of this world and the sins they have committed or others have committed against them. God loves us so much that He sent His Son and wants us to continually turn to Him through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and offer us His love and grace. I hope that we all can humble ourselves and receive the mercy of God often through this Sacrament.