Monday, June 28, 2010

Where's the "U?"

Well...I guess there is still more for me to learn about EufaUla.

Like how to spell it!


My apologies to all Eufaulians for misspelling your town's name about 20 times on the last post.

Lest we forget, it is spelled with TWO "U"s:

E - U - F - A - U - L - A

My apologies and regards.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

First Week in Eufala

Hey Ya'll,

After a week here in Eufala, it is clear that boredom will play no role in my summer here.

I tried to take some pictures this week that would give ya'll a glimpse of Eufala and some of the things going on.

First of all, let's get oriented---here is where Eufala is on the map:

It is not very clear on this picture, but like I said last week, Eufaula is located on a very big lake--Lake Eufala. This Lake is chock-full of big mouth bass. So much so, that as you drive past the city limits, you are welcomed by a big sign boasting, "Welcome to Eufala! Big Bass Capital of the World." Pretty impressive hunh? Father told me that within three days of that sign being put up, some locals had torn down the"B" in "Bass" showing the World that in addition to fish, Eufala is steeped in a rich tradition of humor. hahaha

Earlier this week Father David took me on the grand tour of Eufala. Here are some of the stops we made.

Not only is Lake Eufala filled with bass, but alligators too! Just on the edge of town rests a gas station which is famous for its alligator-viewing deck. Here I am below, risking my life to behold these famous Eufalan Gators.

Notice the fence that is shielding me from danger. This was only erected a few years ago. Before people could get even closer to the gators in their natural environment. Also, just about 50 ft beyond the sign is a wooden deck extending out over this swamp, with several picnic tables where families would come and enjoy a nice afternoon picnic while watching the gators. Now this deck is off-limits, as it is behind the fence. I am wondering if the gators started joining the families for their picnics.....

Wanting to really immerse myself in this experience, Father and I headed towards the deck to see if we could spot a gator. And sure enough...

Could it be???

It is hard to believe that I survived to tell about it! But here I am...and Father made it out alive too! hahahaha. Thank God for his protection....and for metal fences.

After seeing the gators, we headed to get a good look at Lake Eufala. We headed out to "Lake Point," a popular area framing the North side of town. Here I am in front of the Lake.

As you can see...Waterfowl Hunting is Prohibited in this particular area of the Lake. The small sign on the bottom right is probably too small for you to read. It let Father and I know, that some more gators were in the area...but we were not to harm them.

Here is me on the pier with the Lake behind me:

In the parking lot was another sight to behold---the majestic Chatahoochee Princess. This beautiful Riverboat has seen better days...and wetter days. I am not sure about the history of this riverboat...but it is obvious that she has many stories to tell. I hope to be able to share at least one with ya'll before the summer's end.

Although Eufala is humble in size, it is one of the richest sites in Alabama historically speaking. At least as early as 1730, Eufala was inhabited by three different tribes of Creek Indians. Thus, Eufala is believed to be a Creek Indian word meaning "high bluffs."

Later Eufala was settled in 1816 after General William Irwin, a hero of the War of 1814, was granted several thousand acres of land in the neighboring Henry County. Consequently the town was known as "Irwintown" for awhile until rediscovering it more traditional name several years later.

As you drive towards downtown, you encounter one of, if not THE, most classic Old South streets I have ever seen. Old trees hang over your head and antebellum houses gaze at you from either side. The most famous of these homes is the Shorter Mansion. This originally was the home of John Gill Shorter, the governor of Alabama during the Civil War. Here is a shot of his home.

Here is another one of the many historic homes in Eufala.

Every April, Eufala hosts a pilgrimage in which visitors can come and tour all of these historic homes for free.

So, there is a glimpse of Eufala. You really are just going to have to come and visit to understand all that Eufala has to offer. Here is the city's website, where you can find more info about this historic, Old South city--Eufala, AL.

Other than touring Eufala and trying to promote it to others...what have I been doing here?

At the heart of my every day is serving for Mass. Here is a picture of Father and I after Mass on the Feast Day of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher--two English saints martyred by Henry VIII.

The Mass is the most powerful and important prayer of the Catholic Church. The Second Vatican Council refers to it as the "Source and Summit" of our lives of faith as Catholics. In this ancient and sacred prayer (aka. "sacrament"), we believe that simple bread and wine are transformed into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. In the Mass, Jesus offers himself to his people fully through the sacrifice of the priest's life united with the faith and prayers of all the faithful. This is the heart of Catholic life...this is the heart of the naturally, this is the heart of my summer pastoral experience here in Eufala.

We have Mass every day at 8 AM. On Saturday, we travel about an hour North to another small town called Union Springs where we celebrate one Mass in English and another in Spanish. On Sundays, one English and one Spanish Mass is celebrated here in Eufala.

There are a handful of members here at Holy Redeemer in Eufala that are too sick to come to Mass. Some live in their homes and others are in nursing homes and hospitals. On Tuesday, Father and I visited all of our sick parishioners. We visited with them, caught up, prayed with them, and brought them the Eucharist. I will be visiting the sick of the parish on my own from now on, once a week as will Father Shoemaker. That way they get twice the normal visits. Hooray.

After Mass each Monday, the members of the Parish offer a food pantry starting about 9AM. They put together enough food for about 30 families. People begin to show up at the Church as early as 6 AM! I was so impressed by their organization and charity. The entire project is run by the parishioners and funded by their personal donations.

Wednesday night I attended the Youth Group meeting. It was great to get to know them. About half of the youth are Anglo and half are Hispanic. I was so pleased to see this! I told them that their friendships are such blessings for they are and will help the Church to become more fully ONE.

Another thing Father and I are working on in collaboration with the Youth Group is Vacation Bible School. It starts July 12 and runs through the 15th, so we are trying to get everything ready. Father David came up with the theme and everything. He is a creative person and seems to love this outlet to create, invent and prepare. One day this week, I helped him to make a couple videos which he will use for VBS.

Like I said last week, Father has invested in several different mascots for the parish and local community. Also he has invested in a green screen so that he can incorporate the mascots into special videos for the kids. I had the honor of dawning the Kangaroo suit! Check it out.

Just before completing the transformation...



As I told Father, that was my first "Mascot Experience." He assured me it would not be my last...hahaha. Nice!

Thursday, is Yard work day. Since the parish is so small, the budget does not allow for many paid services. Thus yard work, cooking, cleaning, etc. must all be done by Fr. Shoemaker and his flock. After two years in Rome, I found myself relishing a day under the hot Alabama sun wielding a weed-eater. There is something about accomplishing a task by the sweat of your brow that makes you feel human. There is another thing about it which makes you better appreciate those who do earn their living by the sweat of their brow day in and day out.

Friday is my day off. This Friday I went back to Montgomery to spend some time with my family and friends. Generously, Father is allowing me to spend the night at home and meet him on Saturday in Union Springs--located about half way in between Montgomery and Eufala.

On Saturday, once arriving in Union Springs, I went and visited Mrs. Ruth bring her Communion--an elderly lady who is not able to come to Mass. Then at around 1PM I headed to one of the nearby trailer parks where many of the Hispancis live. One of the trailers was donated by my home parish in Montgomery (Church of the Holy Spirit) and serves as the "Centro Catholico" for the community. I was asked to come each Saturday and offer classes for the kids in the area--helping them with English, grammar, Bible, math...basically anything they need help with.

When I arrived, however, only three of the kids were around--Rotillio, Rey Naldo, and Joli. These three siblgins proved to be my guardian angels. They suggested that we ride around the trailer park in my truck inviting all the kids to come. They knew where all of the Catholic kids lived. About 30 minutes later my truck was packed with kids ready for class! It really was a sight to see....I wish I had a picture to share...maybe next week.

The older kids helped me with the younger kids, and with the grace of God...somehow it all worked out...depsite me having no real idea what I was getting into or how to go about it. Yet another reminder---God is good.

At one point, the doorknob to the classroom fell off and we quickly realized we were trapped in the room!!! While I was trying to keep everyone from totally freaking out, one of the older girls Angeliz opened up the window and hollered at another kid to come into the trailer and open the door. Again, by the grace of God, he was able to get into the trailer and free us! hahaha. I am really looking forward to getting to know those kids this summer.

So, that is a little glimpse into what I have been up to this week...and what I will be up to over the summer.


Here are some great pictures taken at the Priestly Ordination in Mobile on June 12th.

Here are the latest and greatest shots of my nephew Connor
Some Videos of Con-Man: You will see breathtaking footage of Connor taking on Green Beans and of Connor taking on something called a "Shoo Fly"--it is a toy that my Grandad Ed (aka Toad) used when he was a kid. Quite the heirloom--from Great-Granddad to Great-Grandson.

I have been meaning to share this link for awhile now. It is a website designed by one of my closest friends in Rome--Rich Mastrogiacomo. Rich is studying for a diocese in New York called Rockville Center. Rich is from a classic Italian-American family...if you couldn't tell from his name. Before entering seminary, Rich was a professional drummer. Originally he trained as a jazz drummer, but can play just about anything. He was part of a band called "The Lift" for awhile which you can find on iTunes. While he was playing with them, they went on tour with a band called "Guster" which many of you have probably heard of. Also, one time at a large music-fest, Rich and his band opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers! The diversity in seminary really is pretty mind-boggling.

Rich still loves music and loves playing. He also likes to compose music. This past year his has been writing and mix some music on his laptop. Some of the songs he has made available on this site. These songs are great for meditation and prayer. Take some time and check this out. You will hear more about Rich in future posts.

Someone sent me this link. Apparently a very witty nun in Arizona landed a TV regular evening spot. Her program is called "Late Night Catechism." She is a dynamic speaker, funny, and an effective teacher. Check it out.


Luke 10:1-12, 17-20

At that time the Lord appointed seventy-two others
whom he sent ahead of him in pairs
to every town and place he intended to visit.
He said to them,
"The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few;
so ask the master of the harvest
to send out laborers for his harvest.
Go on your way;
behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.
Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals;
and greet no one along the way.
Into whatever house you enter, first say,
'Peace to this household.'
If a peaceful person lives there,
your peace will rest on him;
but if not, it will return to you.
Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you,
for the laborer deserves his payment.
Do not move about from one house to another.
Whatever town you enter and they welcome you,
eat what is set before you,
cure the sick in it and say to them,
'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'
Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,
go out into the streets and say,
'The dust of your town that clings to our feet,
even that we shake off against you.'
Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.
I tell you,
it will be more tolerable for Sodom on that day than for that town."

The seventy-two returned rejoicing, and said,
"Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name."
Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky.
Behold, I have given you the power to 'tread upon serpents' and scorpions
and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you,
but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Signing Off

Alright ya'll. Let's pray for one another. Know I will pray for all who read this post, in a special way each day at Mass. Let me know if there is anything specific I can pray for.

Peace, Love, Gators, and JOY.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

End of School Year/Life in Eufala/Happy Father's Day!.

Hello from Eufala, AL!

First of all, HAPPY FATHER'S DAY! Hope this has been a special day for all you Fathers out there. Special shout out to my Father--Donald AKA Poppa Don AKA P-Diddy Don AKA Dingalls AKA Dad. I love you and am so thankful for you. Thank you for my life and all of your love and support. In a special way, I would like to thank you for your genes which have blessed me in many ways--hahahha---especially the ability to grow a mustache...which I am recalling now with great nostalgia.

Lest we forget....

And now, Check out my Dad...

Now up close....

Now us together.....

Nice hunh?

These are pictures from our trip together over Easter Break in Ireland. It was a special time with him and his wife Terre. As I find myself aging beyond the quarter-century mark, I find myself relishing the time I can spend with my parents more and more. Parents are such a big part of who we are....whether we like it or not! hahaha. Spending time with them, I find is very much like looking into a mirror...and the longer you peer into it...the more pieces to the puzzle of your identity you find. So, on this Father's Day (and those to follow), take some more time to gaze into this mirror...and gather more pieces to the puzzle that is...YOU. If your Father (or Mother) is gone...take some time and reflect on the memories you have...or those people in your life who have been a "Father" or a "Mother" to you.

OK. Moving on....

Sorry it has been about a month since my last post. Since then I have taken 6 exams, written two papers, played in the Finals of the Clericus Cup, squared away life in Rome, packed my bags, flown to the United States, attended our Diocesan Ordination, met my nephew Connor, visited Montgomery for a couple days, and moved down to Eufala! It is a miracle that I am still somewhat existing in a state of sanity! Thank God for this and all of His many daily blessings!

I will take a minute and touch on a couple events since the last post.


Well....There is good news and bad news.

Good news: We made it to the Finals!

Bad news: We lost 1-0 in the Finals to Redemptoris Mater, our arch-rivals!

Regardless, it was a great season and an incredible experience in so many ways. It was so edifying to see the guys on our team along with our fans work so hard for one another, our College, our Country, our Church, and our Lord. It really is a significant commitment for guys to balance with all of our other seminary obligations. But one that has blessed so many people. Below I am pasting some links to various media coverage that the Clericus Cup received in its final weeks.

A Correspondent in Rome interviewed a handful of guys from our College (myself included--check out the last two lines of the article) and attended the Finals. I am so thankful to Gaia, the journalist, and the NYTimes for their interest and work on this story. It is so nice to see some positive Catholic press in such a large American publication!

This video-story was done by a British News Agency--AFP. They came to the Finals and produced this news story.

This was a story done at the beginning of the season, which provides some more general information.


On June 12, in Mobile, AL, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Four men were ordained to the Priesthood--Dan Good, Jimmy Morrison, Fred Boni, and Wayne Youngman. I was so blessed to be there and serve for the Ordination Mass.

It was the first ordination in Mobile in 6 years!!! It was also the first ordination that I had ever attended. Needless, to say it as an incredible experience. Definitely one of the most amazing things I have witnessed in my life! How blessed we are in Southern Alabama, to have these four new priests!

It was especially special for me because I studied with Dan for two years at St. Charles and with Jimmy and Fred for two years in Rome. And Wayne spent last summer serving at my home parish in Montgomery--The Church of the Holy Spirit.

Here is an article written by Fr. Alex Valladares (Vocations Director for our diocese) in the days leading up the ordination.

Congrats to ya'll--Fred, Jimmy, Dan, and Wayne! We love you and are so proud of you! It was such an honor for me to share in it all with ya'll.

It is hard to believe that that will be me (God willing of course) in just two more short years! God is good.


After 6 months of anticipation, I finally got to meet my nephew (and future Godson) Connor! My Mom, sister (Chuck), and I went to New Orleans right after the ordinations to spend a couple days with Courtney (older sister), Jeremy (her husband), and Connor. It was amazing to hold and behold Connor. Equally amazing is watching your sister be a parent! How does this happen?! Where do they learn to be a Mom?! Is this really the same person that used to think she was Rainbow Brite? Truly God must exist!!! hahahaha

Small children really put things into perspective for everyone around them. They are totally helpless, yet everyone is enthralled by them. They cannot talk or carry a conversation, but people constantly are talking for them and to them. Life is such a mystery. It becomes so apparent as you hold a small child and look into its eyes. When somehow you find a way to get his/her attention and make them smile or even laugh---in that cannot help but to be thrilled, amazed, satisfied, and mystified all at once. To realize that you were once just as this child. That somehow, after millions of experiences, moments...after the help and assistance of hundreds, perhaps thousands of have grown...matured...developed into the person you are today...capable of reading these words...of walking... talking...thinking.... planning. How exactly did this take place? We will never fully know....

Thank God for this life. Thank Him that it is, indeed, a Mystery. That we will, indeed, never be able to understand everything in this life fully....that Life is this INEXHAUSTIBLY RICH. May God help us to enter into this Mystery more deeply each great Faith that Life is Worth Living...that Life is a Gift...that there is NOTHING to Fear....that LOVE is worthwhile....that God IS amongst us...IN us....Guiding us.

CHUCK/Heart's Home Update:

Chuck is in Brooklyn right now going through a two-week training course for her upcoming 18 month mission to Lima, Peru. I have talked to her once on the phone, and she seems to be loving her life. She seems to be affirmed and almost overwhelmed by how kind, authentic, and sincere the members of the Heart's Home community are.

Each Heart's Home missionary is required to raise money to finance their mission. Here is a letter Chuck recently wrote explaining her mission and asking for support.

“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3:8

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for opening my letter and opening your heart to how you can join me in the Mission of Compassion. This past May, I graduated from the University of Alabama and in September will set off for Lima, Peru to join the missionaries of Heart's Home for eighteen months.

As soon as I entered college, I began to contemplate what would happen once I graduated; more pointedly, what my career would be. My biggest fear was that my career would fail to make a concrete difference in the world, but my mother was able to offer me words of wisdom. She reminded me that no matter what my job may be, I will always be with people, thus always making a difference because we are all called to be present for one another. We are all called to be the Love of Christ for one another.

Somewhere in the midst of all this contemplation, I came across Heart's Home. I was drawn to its simple mission of compassion and struck by the true sincerity of all those I met at the Heart's Home in Brooklyn. The Heart's Homes around the world are simple refuges, full of love and tenderness where any person will be welcomed, listened to and be respected; where every person will be looked at in a way which will convey to him or her the warmth of God's Love. Simply stated, Heart's Home missionaries are friends. I whole-heartedly believe through friendship we get a glimpse of the unfathomable Love of Christ.

Please consider two ways of actively participating alongside me in the Mission of Compassion. First, I ask for your prayers as I go to Peru and encounter countless unknown challenges. Moreover, I ask for a prayer of hope, a prayer of love, a prayer of dignity for all of God's people. Know that your prayers will be united daily with those of myself and the other missionaries. Secondly, I ask for your consideration of a monetary pledge to help fulfill my obligation to Heart’s Home in raising $11,700. Heart's Home is a non-profit organization which is supported completely by private donations; thus, all volunteers are asked to raise $650 per month to facilitate their daily living needs.

In an attempt to explain what your sponsorship means to me, let me use the words of Henri Nouwen as he set off to Peru in 1981. “I had a strong sense of community, and awareness that this community will stay with me wherever I go. The Lord Himself brought us together and has made it clear to us that we are One in Him and that this unity will allow us to be free, courageous, and full of hope. Whatever my experience in Latin America will bring to me, it will be part of a body formed in love and it will reverberate in all its members.” You are part of my community.

Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share Heart’s Home with you. To learn more, you may visit If you choose to sponsor me spiritually, financially, or both, you may do so by filling out the enclosed envelope or online at , and I will be sure to send you a letter at least every other month telling you how our journey is unfolding. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I would love to hear from you!

Peace and Love,

Charlotte Ingalls

1 June 2010

Chuck by a Truck

Eufala, AL

Soooo....after a couple days in Mobile....a couple in New Orleans...a couple in Montgomery....I found my way down to Eufala, AL this past Friday June 18th.

Every summer, each seminarian is given an assignment by the Archdiocese. They appoint you to a pastor and a parish where you will serve for 8 weeks. The pastor serves as a mentor as you live, pray, and work under his guidance throughout the summer. It is a time to get a taste of what daily life as a priest will be like. It is a time for all our theological studies to come become practical.

I have been assigned to Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church here in Eufala, AL. The pastor here....and thus my commander and chief for the summer is Fr. David Shoemaker. Fr. Shoemaker also serves as the Assistant-Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Mobile. This means that he helps to mentor and guide young men considering the priesthood in our Archdiocese. Needless to say, I better not botch things up too badly this summer!!! hahahaha

There are about 100 registered families here as well as a large hispanic community here at Christ the Redeemer. Also, Fr. Shoemaker covers a mission parish called St. Pius X located in Union Springs, AL about a 40 minute drive away. There are only about 10 registered families at that parish. However, there is a fairly large and growing Hispanic community there as well. Thus, half the Sunday Masses at both Churches are said in English and half in Spanish.

I am so happy to be assigned here for the summer for many reasons. First, I am glad to have this chance to speak Spanish (something I studied in high school and college--spent 2 months in Chile on a study abroad program) and further embrace the growing Hispanic culture in our midst here in the US. Furthermore, Eufala is a beautiful and very historic place I have always heard much about. Also, Lake Eufala is right here...filled with fish...waiting to be caught :)

Perhaps, most of all, I am happy to follow in the footsteps of several other seminarians who have spent summers here in recent years. Each of them loved their summer here and had many stories to tell. Many of which revolved around the ever-more legendary pastor--Father David Shoemaker. I mean just take a look at this guy:

"One of a kind" is the only way to describe this dynamic pastor.

A brief look into his past will reveal a combination that I doubt has ever else-wise been assembled.

Fr. Shoemaker grew up in Ohio. Before entering Seminary, Fr. David was in the military. Also he was a cop, a forest ranger, a fire fighter, and a barber. He studied various martial arts. He was/is an avid fly-fisherman. He is an avid comic book collector. He has been sky-diving, dog-sledding near the Canadian border, and has repelled off mountain cliffs. He has been scuba diving including one experience in a US Navy Mark V helmet (i.e. Like the one pictured below)

Father is also a member and chaplain of The National Naturally-Bearded Santa Claus Guild (not sure if I got the name just right) and fittingly has a very strong devotion to St. Nicholas. He also is a professionally trained mascot. He has helped to design, enliven, and bring several mascots to Eufala including Friar Mutt, BlueRegard the Cat, and Captain Roo. These mascots make frequent appears at the parish and at the local public library. Check out a video Fr. Shoemaker just put together for the parish's upcoming Vacation Bible School!

Also, Fr. David does both Revolutionary and Civil War reenactments at the local public library. Perhaps, Fr. David is most famous around Eufala for his "Snow-making" abilities. You really just have to read this article to understand--LET IT SNOW.

And did I mention he is a happy and holy priest???!!!

Chatting with me shortly upon my arrival, Father commented, "You know with God anything is possible. Sure there are many challenges in life, but it truly can be lived with great Joy!"

Needless to say...this should be an interesting summer.

I will do my best to post each Sunday as I have before, sharing my experience here at Holy Redeemer with Fr. Shoemaker and all of his flock.

Please keep us in your prayers as we minister together. And as always, let me know if you have any specific prayer intentions that we can be praying for.

I have only been here in Eufala since Friday but have already had the chance to meet so many of the parishioners here. I sense that there is a great spirit of community and fellowship here which I am looking forward to exploring more and more.

Here are some shots from the big Father's Day Fiesta that the Hispanic Community hosted today after Mass:

Stuffing my face

The Band


Luke 9:51-62

When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,

he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,

and he sent messengers ahead of him.

On the way they entered a Samaritan village

to prepare for his reception there,

but they would not welcome him

because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.

When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,

“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven

to consume them?”

Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,

“I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus answered him,

“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,

but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

And to another he said, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”

But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.

But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,

but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”

To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow

and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Have a Blessed Week! Let's pray for one another.

Peace, Love, EUFALA, and JOY!