30 More Days Till Consecration

Contemporary Version featuring JP II, Mother Teresa and Maximilian Kolbe

This Lent, I have decided to grow in my own understanding of Christ through St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Having taken February 20th as my start date, I have entered a “retreat” of sorts with the culmination on March 25th The Annunciation of Mary.

 

By Daderot on Tiffany glass

The feast of the Annunciation of the Lord celebrates the angel Gabriel’s appearance to the Virgin Mary  with the announcement that the Blessed Virgin had been chosen to be the Mother of Our Lord, and Mary’s “Yes!”  (fiat) to God’s holy plan.(Luke 1:26-38)

For me, this Marian feast day has special significance, in that it is a very real glimpse into the answer that God asks of each of us. Quite simply, and humbly, we give our “yes!” to what God has planned and willed in each of our lives. Far greater and vastly different from anything we could ever imagine, it requires we surrender ourselves fully.

With that, I look forward to speaking  these words of Consecration (Day 34),

“I, Elizabeth, a faithless sinner, renew and ratify today in thy hands the vows of my Baptism; I renounce forever Satan, his pomps and works; and I give myself entirely to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Wisdom, to carry my cross after Him all the days of my life, and to be more faithful to Him than I have ever been before…

O faithful Virgin, make me in all things so perfect a disciple, imitator and slave of the Incarnate Wisdom, Jesus Christ thy Son, that I may attain, by thine intercession and by thine example, to the fullness of His age on earth and of His glory in Heaven. Amen.” ¹Signature

¹Louis De Montfort, “True Devotion” p.198.

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Worth Revisiting {Ash} Wednesday

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


Ash Wednesday Edition!

Today as we begin the season of Lent I thought that this beloved Catholic funny was definitely worth revisiting!  Beyond the obvious, when many of us have left with just a smear across our forehead, I see myself. (As a bit of perspective, I have actually corrected the cross of ashes on my forehead more than once in my life!) For so many years, I have let my own desire of perfectionism determine the outcome of success. It is a fruitless game of never fully being pleased. and where often the reason why we even tried gets lost in our own sense of pride.

True, this time of Lent is intended to work on those things in our life that distance us from God. However, we cannot do this solely on our own, nor were we ever meant to. Rather than seeking control, by forcing a square peg in a round hole, we are to allow God to chip away at our sins and challenges. To shape us in the true image we were always intended to be.

This is why I encourage you this Lent to let go of who you think you once were, or who others have defined you to be to allow God to accomplish His work and what he wills within you. These next 40 days are a gift- an invitation to carve out space and time for both quiet reflection and dialogue. If you decide to pick up a devotion this Lent, whether it be the rosary, adoration time, daily mass, Bible study, Liturgy of the Hours, or the Examen..agree to make it meaningful. Rather than passively going about this time be purposeful in seeking direction and unhurried in reaching a destination. Keeping in mind that our faith is a journey- one in which Our Father not only meets us but leads and indeed carries us home.

Love is Worth Waiting For

Those who know my husband and I closely, know that before we ever dated we were best friends. John was a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts and I a freshman at Mount Holyoke College in 1990. In looking back, every detail of our meeting and courtship was just as it was intended to be. Neither of us was initially looking for a long term relationship but honestly seeking someone that reflected the values that we held dear.

That first evening, John was in fact to be meeting someone else, who was the roommate of a friend of mine. Yet, with nothing in common and little desired conversation both had decided it was a bad idea. At dinner, he spotted me across the room and inquired from my friend who I was.  I had noticed him too, but was unsure if he was with one of the other girls. Called over to their table before leaving, I suggested that we meet in the common room for coffee.  As the conversation flowed, the more we discovered that there was indeed something very special in the other. I could not explain it, but I recognized what had been so missing in my life at the time.

Instantly, John will tell you, that he knew that I was the one- who held his heart, mind and attention from that day forward. Yet, I was not so ready to “jump”. Knowing that he was special and desperately needing a true male friend, I was fearful that a relationship would ruin this.  Reluctantly, he accepted that I was not ready to date but longed for his friendship. Through months of listening to one another tell of the faults of those we dated, and giving advice we grew closer. He was waiting for me and loving me all the while.

So it happened. Having invited him to a party that I was certain would be uneventful, I eagerly anticipated spending time with my best friend. I did not worry that we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, or that we would face that awkwardness at the end. I knew that we would enjoy the time no matter how lame the event was. What I wasn’t aware of, however, was the surprise that God had in store for me..now that I was ready for it.

We kissed. (Oh, no..I’ve done it, I lost my friend), I thought. Yet, in those moments of recognition I prayed. Father, lead me, lead us. So, upon my suggestion we decided to go take a walk and sit beside one of my favorite reflective spots beside the waterfall. Though quite picturesque, I was feeling a bit chilled in the cool New England spring air. As he put his arms around me, and we sat in relative silence..I finally understood.

The following is a poem that I later wrote that summer. I waited to give this to him after we were engaged for Valentines Day 1992.

The Waterfall   (1991)                 by Elizabeth Reardon 

The waterfall cascaded down onto the lake below,
I marveled at its beauty and watched as moonbeams shone.
I hadn’t known the lake to look as lovely as that night,
For within his arms and loving heart I was now held tight.

In friendship had I known this loving heart before,
I never thought that ever I could ask for any more.
But suddenly I realized that this was but a start,
That every second of my life he would be a part.

To hold me, love me, and share the vast wonders of the day-
To walk along a mile with me down steep and narrow ways.
And when we are no longer young to our grandchildren I will tell,
Of the sparkling waterfall, and the painted lake-
when their grandfather kissed his southern belle!

This Valentine’s Day as we stop to express our love for those that continually bless our lives let’s remember how God never ceases to surprise us!

Love,

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Worth Revisiting: A New Perspective

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


Currently, Vol.3: A New Perspective

(Originally posted September 22, 2014)

Currently,A New PerspectiveCurrently, I have been thinking about the people that enter into our lives, albeit sometimes unexpectedly,  who enable us to glimpse a new perspective.  We are reminded that the beauty of our journey as Christians  is that as questions arise, our faith tradition is filled with deep convictions, “emerging” methods,  and new beginnings!  How thankful I am for those times that as God has sought to move me, and has opened my eyes to see  a different perspective or the need for a more pastoral approach. What a vision God has of the whole picture!

It reminds me of an art class where everyone is painting the object in the center. The object isn’t the same all the way around, even the light from the windows casts the colors and shadows differently. Yet, the artists paint what is before them in the truest way possible, faithful to the teacher, and the methods that they have learned.

Listening// This week I listened to an elderly friend, who I bring communion to, describe the sightless, hard of hearing world that he lives in. Not in a complaint, but in a matter of fact way-inviting me into “seeing” his perspective.  Though the light behind his eyes has made sleep extremely difficult, he asks to be awakened for communion because this is so essential to him. As we part, he tells my husband and I how he wishes he could see us but how much he loves and is thankful for our time spent in community.

Watching// with excitement at the new appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago!  Just a few days before the announcement, twitter was all abuzz. Eagerly, I studied his pastoral journey to gain a better understanding of the perspective he would bring to the position.  He appears to be moderate in his approach on most religious issues, and in touch with both the teachings and the people.  How heartwarming it was to hear him personally address the 44% Hispanic population of Chicago in Spanish!  In everything that I have seen and heard so far,  I have to say what an exciting time  it is for the people of  Chicago. 

Reading// Evangelizing Catholics: A Mission Manual for the New Evangelization by Scott Hahn.  Another essential book I have placed on my learning syllabus for my Field Education work! This book  provides a necessary perspective on the mission calling us forth in “creating intentional disciples” and in deepening our own faith life. For it questions whether we can be convincing witnesses of the faith if, instead of embracing and living our faith, we tread only in the shallow end. It is a beautiful reminder to probe the deeper meaning of the sacraments in a life lived, rather than seeing these as an end in and of themselves.

bookRemembering// The love of learning that my mother and her family passed down to me.  As the daughter, granddaughter, niece, and cousin of educators, I recognize that this is something I could not escape (Those genes are strong) even if I had wanted to!  Not knowing where God will lead me when this degree is completed, I know that in my heart that this desire to learn, grow and share will always be a part of whatever I do.

Wisdom” , Rustic Verses by (my Grandpa) Carl Wyatt Ferrell

 It seems the older that we grow,

The more we don’t know-

At least I’ve found it true.

My wisdom I begin to doubt,

For there are things I’ve just found out,

That once I thought I knew.

 

For Knowledge is a growing thing;

Each day, more wisdom it will bring

if we take care to see.

A grain of learning should each day,

Like precious gold be stored away,

If we would wiser be.

A loving granddaughter,

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This Lent: Can I hear my Father’s Voice?

Can we even imagine a world where none of these exist? In small ways, I believe that we can, because we know the existence of good in knowing God. We have witnessed kindness and compassion, and instances whereby goodness has triumphed over evil. Yet in the kingdom of God, God’s goodness and reign is completely sovereign. I am not ready, however,  to give up the dream, and diligence toward a world where justice and goodness prevail. In fact, it is in posing this question that I am reminding myself again of that ideal that the kingdom of God reveals to us. In imagining it, it provides the vision to hope for, and the desire to work towards fulfilling it.

With the approach of Lent, I have been giving much thought to our journey of faith as a community, the lifelong invitation of dying to self and accepting a life transformed. The most striking reality is that Jesus also underwent this ongoing transformation of mind, heart, and action (metanoia) in becoming more and more who he was intended to be. We know that Jesus spent countless hours in prayer, and this was time spent in getting to know Abba more intimately, reconnecting with the Spirit, and redirecting his life towards infinite love. In doing so, he could see beyond himself to the poor, oppressed, and those in need of healing. Consciously he then answered God’s call to make a transformation not only within himself but in the world.

In understanding the dynamic, ongoing, and transformative conversion of life, we too need to make the necessary connection to one’s lived experience of faith- as a project of life integration.  Simply stated, as Christians our lived experience of faith in the Spirit calls us to continually redirect our hearts, minds and steps towards the values and actions necessary in being followers of Christ and in building the kingdom of God. Beautifully, I do believe we see metanoia in community in partaking in the Eucharist. For, here we are invited to bring our brokenness, recommit ourselves to God and the community, and are sent forth to be Eucharist to the world.

Even so, Lent gives us a period of time to reflect on our own desires, to surrender ourselves, and better discern where and who God is calling us to be. Do you feel a spiritual dryness in prayer? Is your day consumed with a laundry list of essential to-do’s with your energy and time in short supply? Like Jesus, we need this time with God to hear and become familiar with the voice of our loving Father.

So, in this way, I invite you to consider carving out quiet time and space this Lent to do just that. It needn’t be vast, but a committed time each day just to sit, “be still and know that He is God”. Pay attention to the stillness, to the absence of your voice, and the freedom found in just being present with God. Feel the Holy Spirit’s constant reminder of life in every breath you take.

Thank you God for the gift in rediscovering You. Here in your presence, I know that your love, truth and guidance both for me and for the world are always there to be found..if we truly seek to hear your voice!

Worth Revisiting: Currently, Vol. 1

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


 

Currently, Vol.1: All Things

(Originally posted August 25, 2014)

Currently, I am a mom of a senior, a freshman, and a 4th grader, and a wife of 20 years. Likewise, I am passionate about cooperating with God’s will in the impromptu petitions of lay ministry work, saying yes more often than not, to what is being asked . And if that wasn’t madcap enough, I am finishing up my last two semesters of my Master’s Degree at Loyola, with my field education this fall and my thesis in the spring. So, I guess that it would appear  (only wish I could properly convey the irony) that I thrive on chaos!

All Things

Thinking about, more and more the necessity for dynamic women’s ministry. Often placing ourselves last on the family totem pole, there is such an overwhelming need for us as women of faith to practice self care spiritually, as well as, physically. It is something that we need to seek to provide in our parish, and what we need to seek for ourselves. Whether it be a retreat, daily mass, adoration, mom-and-me mornings, or outings/pilgrimages as a group it is essential to nourish ourselves within.

Reading, The Church and the New Media by Brandon Vogt.  Can I simply say how very thankful that I placed this as a part of my learning syllabus?! Clear, concise, and truly entertaining it is a must read as Catholics in this age of social media. We have been given new tools in our tool belt to equip us to help draw our communities together, while also reaching out to those new to the faith.  It’s as easy as a Spirit led tweet, retweet, or Facebook message, picture or song. Will you join me?

Working on, a new compilation of contemporary Christian music that can be used for sacramental retreats, in addition to the standards that we used in the past. Yet, another resource available to us now, contemporary music has the ability to speak to countless new generations of believers. Currently taking suggestions, so if you know of particular song that would fit well with a sacrament, (baptism, reconciliation, communion, confirmation, or marriage) please leave a comment below.

Praying For:  persecuted Christians in Iraq, and throughout our world. That God moves the hearts of all to feel compassion, to pray for justice, and to work for peace. In our own nation, I pray also for the essential right, respect, and support for our children to express their faith appropriately.

IMG_0619Thankful for this summer, for the cool mornings, bright sunnydays, and the evening ocean breeze that floats through my house. Thankful also for the down time that God has given, to stop and enjoy some much needed time together as a family. Just this past Thursday, my family and I went to the Marshfield fair, complete with carnival rides, bloomin’ onions, fried dough, and farm animals. It is a tradition that, looking back at the pictures, reminds us how incredibly special this time is together.

Enjoying, the gifts of in season produce from Haymarket famers in Boston. Oh, how I will miss the freshness of the zucchini, summer squash, Portobello mushrooms, and eggplant!


Excitedly looking forward to: the start of this new school year, and where God will lead our Church in another blessed year with Pope Francis! 

Peace and Blessings,

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Joy Stealer or Faith Grower?

Currently, in our society where individualism and our own happiness has been regarded as utmost priority there is great emphasis placed on that which makes us momentarily feel good.  We are quick  to avoid the situations that disturb our inner peace, upset out schedule and call us out of our comfort zone. Even in our relationships we grumble, resist and distance ourselves from those that are most difficult to deal with.

I pause here for an honest confession… I have chosen the path of feeling annoyed and complaining lately. Faced with a seemingly unchanging resistance from others to my own desire to be joyful,  I had decided it best to create some distance. A mini retreat of sorts, I recognized that I needed a break in order to get a bit of perspective. In taking this opportunity to go out into the “wilderness”  to spend some alone time in prayer, to reflect on what  is being asked of me I now have a better understanding of what Christ desires.

First, I realize that I cannot remain on permanent retreat from all that I feel attempts to steal my joy. Obvious exemptions would be situations that are physically or mentally abusive. Yet, what I am talking about are difficult people, or particularly trying situations that continually test my patience and call for regular forgiveness.

Case in point:

1.The “one way or no way” attitude: The phone rings and I notice the caller id. As the conversation ensues I am struck by the familiarity of the questions and topics of discussion.  Can we ever go deeper? No, not if it remains a one sided barrage of questions where there is only one answer desired. No, not if there isn’t active listening, appreciation of the other person, and a desire to have true dialogue. So, I listen and leave the discussion wondering why I spent my time in this way.

2. The “blinking red light”: Here is the person that is constantly in hot water. If the issue doesn’t involve them directly they feel it necessary to stir the waters that potentially create a tempest situation. Oh, did you have plans today? Well, this is far more important and if you weren’t concerned before..you should be by now.  So, I listen, offer advice, help where I can, and spend the day praying that they find peace.

Selfishly at times I have asked God, “Why have you placed these rocks in my path, why am I being asked to deal with stubbornness and anxiety?”

His answer, “Elizabeth because you have yet to learn the incredible lessons of love and forgiveness that I have been so desperately seeking to instill in you! Do you honestly think that you are without fault, malleable, secure in my loving plan and accepting of all that I am calling you to be?”

“No, Father… I have much to learn. Yet, I am desperately trying to understand though. Isn’t that good?”

Yes, but you cannot get comfortable with where you are- because I am asking so much more of you. Each of my children has a purpose and a journey. Sometimes this journey leads others to learn from you and other times their purpose is to challenge you to grow.

I have choices in how I encounter others. If my life isn’t rooted in love, patience, and forgiveness, how are others to truly  know Christ through me?  Moreover, our lives are meant to be proof of God’s deep call to a new life, faith that though times get difficult there is hope that our loving Father is working all for good.  This inbreaking of the Kingdom of God isn’t merely an inner journey or a futuristic promise of heaven…but it begins with me today.

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: A Catholic Mom’s Prayers for Her Teenage Son

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


A Catholic Mom’s Prayers for Her Teenage Son

(Originally posted September 11th, 2014)

Today, as we remember the tragedy of 9/11, I am blessed to also Small-Success-Thursday-250pxcelebrate the 15th birthday of my son Peter.

IMG_0703That day as he was turning two, I was out making necessary birthday preparations when the Twin Towers went down. This event that has so defined the spirit of our nation in both sorrow and solidarity is an indelible part of his birthday as well. Yet, rather than disregarding or muting the sentiments of the day, perhaps there is much grace for him in being reminded of the world outside of himself. In recognizing that in life we often hold sorrow in one hand and joy in the other, and that each one is essential in awareness of our blessings and the presence of God. So with this I opened his baby book and found the prayers that my husband and I had written to him before he was born.

1.  From Dad: IMG_0294

“My prayer for you is to be a good Catholic, and patriotic American. To live a life of honor, as you seek to follow Christ.”

IMG_04602.  From Mom:

My prayer is that your life will be filled with happiness and laughter-surrounded by true friends and family. That you will be able to see the good in all things, to be the one to change and work for change when needed.”

IMG_06353. As a Freshman this year, Peter passionately and persistently pleaded with us to attend Sacred Heart High School.  Not knowing how we would ever afford tuition with my husband being the only one working and with me in graduate school, we were hesitant. Yet, this is what changed our minds.. (Excerpt from his admissions essay.)

“Yet, if I had to had to identify what is most essential to me it would be my faith in God, and who I am because of that. I pray to God every day, and ask Him for forgiveness when I make mistakes. Likewise, I have chosen to serve as an altar server at my parish of St. Peter’s, since 3rd grade to give back to God who has given so much to me. This is also why I find using the Lord’s name in vain disrespectful, rude and offensive. God is of number one importance to me, and those who disrespect Him, I believe, also disrespect me. I would like to attend Sacred Heart because I want to be in a community of people who appreciate and love Him as much as I do.”

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So, while Peter is a still a typical teenager, and going to make his own mistakes in life, I am comforted in knowing that he is aware that God is there too. That the choices that he makes do not affect him alone, but influence and shape the world around him. Thank you Father, for the gift of our children, and for this day to celebrate and hold the sacredness of the gift of life in our hearts. For this day when this mom can throw her arms around her son who is now far taller than she is!

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8 Examen-ations for Decision Making

Keeping it short and sweet today, but I thought I’d share my own adaptation of a spiritual decision making tree. The first three are quite essential in that they ask of us to go to the source..

God’s word, God’s voice, and the Holy Spirits guidance in all. The other five invite us to consider our intentions, and the effects of our decisions on others. I enjoy reflecting on these particular scripture verses too, giving each a bit of time to bear fruit.

When making a significant decision,  I have also found it important to discuss the situation with my husband, a close friend and when possible with my spiritual director.

Sometimes, inviting another perspective and experience can provide both distance and clarity. Notwithstanding, in taking the time to pray together, we begin to appreciate the necessity of community and the strength found through these faithful bonds of fellowship . None of us are ever intended to embark on this journey alone, but invited to reach out, uplift, lean on, and carry one another when the way seems difficult.

Thank you Father for all those you have placed in my life- my family and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. For the truly prayerful counsel of Fr. Jim who continues to fill this time of discernment for me with great joy and faith-filled wisdom.  May every decision be less of me and more of You, for you know the way ahead so much better than I. 

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting: Currently, Contemplating St. Michael

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.


Currently,Currently, Contemplating St. Michael

(Originally posted September 29th, 2014)

Currently,  I am thinking today about the feast of St. Michael the Archangel also known as Michaelmas. This feast is shared with the angels Gabriel, and Raphael. Michael is first mentioned  in the Old Testament book of Daniel in strengthening and promising to help Daniel after he has a vision of things to come for the people of Israel. (10:13-21) Then again in Daniel 12 ,when Michael is noted as a “great prince” and protector of God’s people. In the New Testament, in the book of Jude, Michael first “argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses” (Jude 1:9). Then in Revelation, Michael is shown triumphantly leading the forces of heaven to defeating the fallen angels following Lucifer. (Rev 12:7-9) Michael is considered the patron saint of the Church on earth, for a holy death, police, soldiers, paramedics, travelers by sea, and sickness.

While science has been so helpful in explaining so many things in our world, there remain these beautiful reminders that God is always seeking to communicate (Gabriel), to guide (Rafael), and to protect (Michael) his faithful[1].  How grateful I am to know that we have this heavenly assistance in battling the evil in this world.

Prayer of St. Michael: St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who wander throughout the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Thankful for//  the gift of the “Tiny Saint” Michael necklace by my friend for my son Thomas. For any of you that are unfamiliar with this company they carry a large product line of these tiny saints on charms, bracelets, rosaries and necklaces. Each features either a biblical reference or description for the saint with the item. Thomas has been sleeping with it under his pillow since he received it last Friday.

Enjoying// God’s gift of beautiful weather this weekend! In New England, we have to cherish these gifts of warm, almost summer like weather, in the fall because we know the cooler weather is on the horizon. So, Saturday we headed out with beach towels, snacks, drinks and a football to Long Beach on the Plymouth, MA coastline. How amazing it was for this mom to close her eyes, soak up the sun, and simply listen to the ocean and the laughter in the background. I couldn’t help being inspired though, and snapping a few photos!

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Loving// my new Loyola Institute of Pastoral Studies t-shirt! As some of you might know, I am a graduate student of Loyola Chicago’s Pastoral Studies Program. How can I do this living in Massachusetts?  Well, as you may have guessed, the majority of my work is through their phenomenal and engaging online program. Utilizing interactive programs like Sakai, Adobe Connect, and Voice Thread, students are challenged to read, reflect, collaborate, write and engage one another through virtual classrooms. It leaves nothing absent from the traditional classroom, except for maybe the commuting, parking and study sessions in the college library. If you have ever considered going back to college, and wonder if you could fit in, Loyola Chicago might be for you! It has been such a positive experience that I am now serving on the Student Engagement Committee as a liaison between faculty and students.

Speaking of which, I am… Excited about// my upcoming trip to Chicago in a couple of weeks for the Alpha Sigma Nu Induction ceremony at the Lakeshore Campus in Chicago. How awesome that my roomie from Rome, also a Loyola student, has so graciously offered to be my roommate again! What an honor to be considered among  those committed to  the Jesuit mission and ideals of scholarship, loyalty and service.  What began with my own passion for learning and faith development has evolved into a yearning to share and awaken the faith in others. Through my experience at Loyola, I have gained both knowledge, and the tools to critically explore and embrace the faith, as well as, endless creative ways to engage and connect.  Ignited within is a faithfulness to continued collaboration and spiritual formation and a life of service.

Today, may you too feel strengthened and encouraged, on this feast of St. Michael , to learn, grow and boldly serve in your own community  knowing God is with you.   Signature

[1] http://www.americancatholic.org/features/saints/saint.aspx?id=1153