Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Eufaula Week 5: Baptism and More


This post will be somewhat backwards with regards to chronology and thematic consistency. But...we could all use some variety right?

This past Friday and Saturday, Father Shoemaker gave me time off to travel down to New Orleans for Connor's (my nephew's) Baptism. My sister and her husband Jeremy asked me and Chuck to be Connor's Godparents. As Godparents we would pledge to support Courtney and Jeremy as they raise Connor in the Church. We would pledge to do our best to be good examples of Christ's love in his life. It was humbling to be asked to do such a thing. However, knowing we must rely on God's grace and wisdom, we accepted with great excitement.

Furthermore, who doesn't want have claim to the name "Godfather????"

Pretty sweet life I am living now hunh? If only I could grow a darker mustache.....hahahaha

So all the family headed down to Nola for the weekend. It was a blast seeing Connor again and the rest of the family. Here are some shots from our weekend together.

Chuck/Godmother-to-be and Conn-Air

Victor Corleone and Connor

In preparation for becoming Connor's Godfather, I groomed Connor in the ancient art of Peak-a-boo....using my shirt to cover his head.

This is St. Francis parish in the West Riverbank neighborhood of New Orleans. This was the first place where Courtney and Jeremy went to Church upon moving to New Orleans. At Mass that day, a young deacon preached a memorable homily. At the end of Mass, the pastor thanked the deacon for his help over the summer and mentioned that he would be leaving shortly to continue his studies in Rome. Courtney immediately spazzed in her seat...realizing that he probably knew me from school. After Mass, she dodged her way to the deacon discovering that he was Peter Finney. Peter is a close friend of all the Mobile guys in Rome. Small world hunh?!! Peter was ordained a priest on June 11 at the Cathedral in New Orleans. Congratulations Peter!

Here is a short article I found about Peter and his Ordination> CLICK HERE

St. Francis is also the first place where Connor ever went to Mass---this past Christmas Eve--peacefully slept through the whole thing.

(L-R) Jeremy, Courtney and Connor, Fr. Jeff, Me, and Chuck

Fr. Jeff has been ordained for about 2 years now. He went to College Seminary at St. Joseph's Abbey in St. Benedict, Louisiana and then studied Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. A number of the Mobile seminarians studied with Jeff through the years. I have only ever heard good things about this guy. It was a blessing to finally meet him. Humble...simple...and unpretentiously very intelligent. He really made it a special occasion for everyone.

Fr. Jeff was stationed at St. Francis when Courtney and Jeremy arrived in New Orleans. He came to visit them in the hospital a number of times bringing comfort, prayer, and peace while Courtney struggled to give birth to Connor a month early. God's Providence is amazing--surrounding Courtney, Jeremy, and Connor with such great people (who happened to be my friend and friends' friend) at such a crucial time.

Connor is wearing the same gown I wore for my baptism. Solid.

Wally (aka Shaq aka my Mom), like most Grandmothers I know, can't stop looking at her grandkids

Finally getting to meet the famous Fr. Jeff

The Two Grandmothers: My Mom and Jeremy's Mom Sandi

Jeremy, Courtney, Connor & Baptismal Font

Like Father like Son

Dad and his wife Terre with the Con-Man

Jeremy's parents: Sandi and Ed. It was so good to be with them again after a two year hiatus due to my studies in Rome. Salt of the earth folks from Ocala, Florida...Courtney is lucky to have In-Laws like this.

Happy Baby

All in all, it was a great trip with a great purpose spent with great people. Connor is baptized now. I am a Godfather now. We welcome this new life...claimed for Christ into our midst. We shower him with our love and prayers so that Christ may come and dwell powerfully in Connor....that he may become a great Man of God...a Saint....a bearer of Christ's love in this world.

Shoemaker Strikes Again:

So you think you have Fr. Shoemaker figured out hunh? Think again....

His bag of tricks simply cannot be exhausted.

A couple years back, Father colloborated with some of his "Santa Buddies" to found the "Clan Claus." It is an officially recognized Scottish Clan vested with its own special Crest, Tartan, Membership, and Motto ("Believe").

Below, you can see Father sporting their official garb.

Here is the website if your mind is not satisfyingly blown already: CLAN CLAUS SOCIETY

House Blessing:

A Catholic Priest is invested with the Power to give a special Blessing of Christ to people and things. There are many reasons and many motives for a priest to bless...always though it is done to strengthen God's people to be able to love better and to be protected from all forces working against the growth of God's love in their life.

One common practice is the House Blessing. Normally when a Catholic family moves into their home, they will ask their pastor to come and pray with them in their house, blessing it with holy water all throughout. This is especially a very celebratory practice in India. An Indian family in our parish invited Father to come and blessed their home this past week. They are just moving into their first real home! Before they have always lived in apartments. So this was very exciting for everyone!

They told us that in India, when a family moves into a new house there is a BIG Celebration. The whole neighborhood is invited to come by and eat and see the new home. The priest comes and blesses everything and everyone around. It was neat to see their special excitement about the Blessing of their home...and to get caught up in that excitement.

What a great reminder for us to be so Thankful for the blessings in our lives.

Hand at Teaching:

At the beginning of my time here in Eufaula, Fr. asked me to teach a course over about 4-5 weeks about the Mass, the Eucharist, and the upcoming changes in language in the Mass. Every Tuesday after Mass I have been offering this class for the past month. It has been a great opportunity for me to apply some of the things I have been studying over the years and to practice teaching. You know Jesus is called "Rabbi" (Hebrew word meaning "teacher") more than any other title in the Gospels. So as a priest, one must be ready to teach others about the Gospel of Love.

Thanks to all of you who have been coming. It has been a real honor and blessing to spend those times with you. Remember, our concluding class with be this Tuesday August 3rd at 9AM in the Parish Hall. All are welcome, even if this would be your first day. I always start each class with a RECAP so anyone can be oriented for class that day.

In Conclusion, Enjoy this exchange of Joy:

This Sunday's Gospel:

Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed,
for though one may be rich,
one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

Then he told them a parable.
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do,
for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, ‘This is what I shall do:
I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods
and I shall say to myself, “Now as for you,
you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!”’
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.”

This Week's Links:

Peter Finney's Ordination---newest New Orleans Priest

Photo Album of the Baptism--Check out more of Connor's big Bash

Keytar Catholic

Meet Steven Vrazel--another Mobile Seminarian and good friend of mine. He recently started a blog so that people can share in his journey to Priesthood. "Vraz" as we call him...will be ordained a Deacon at St. Peter's Bascilica in Rome in early October and a priest on June 10, 2011. Amongst many other talents, Vraz is famous in many circles for having sported a WELL-groomed handlebar mustache for about a decade now. Here is a little inspiration:

The Legend of the Mustache:

This is a new comedy series coming out called "The Good Guys: The Legend of the Mustache." You will quickly see how men like Vraz are impacting this world we live in. Brace yourself....

Signing Off:

May this week bring many blessings into your life. May special prayer for anyone who may read this Blog this week...is that they will experience deeply the tender love that God the Father has for them...and that they would be moved to open their hearts more widely to his Love, Mercy, Healing, and Forgiveness...and thus into the Fullness of Life...and Fullness of Happiness.

Pretty basic request I figure...


Have a great week! Let's pray for one another.

Peace, Love, Joy, Freedom, and Handlebar Mustaches

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Change of Plans

Hello Earth,

I am sure it is no surprise to you by now that I am not posting on Sunday yet again.

Until further notice...I will be aiming for Tuesday.

It is time for me accept this reality in my life.


As is becoming my new way of Sunday-slouch-posting....here is a little appetizer.

Talk to ya'll on Tuesday

Peace and Love

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 4 in Eufaula: Solving Mysteries, Three D's, and a Skeeter

Muy Buenas Noches a Todos de Eufaula,

See how inculturated I am? hahaha

Amazingly, a month has now passed since my arrival here in Eufaula. It really is a charming town. And the people are even better. I never thought I would be so busy in such a small Southern Catholic parish!

Really if you have a chance to visit you really ought to. And if you do...I have the place for you to stay--The Candlelight Inn.

It is literally about 50 meters from Holy Redeemer where I am living. The owners, George and JoAnn, are parishioners here and the nicest of people. My first week here they kindly invited me down for coffee and muffins and to see their place. I was immediately charmed by their beautiful home...and more so by them. Since then, we have been regularly having coffee in the mornings, sitting on the front of their wrap-around porch. There is no better porch in town..and no better way to come and imbibe all that is Eufaula.

Here is a front shot of their place that I stole from their website.

And here is their website so you can go ahead and plan your trip!!!


It is the only B&B in town and the only place where you will wake up and eat Banana Nut Pancakes while a retired trucker serenades you with your favorite Johnny Cash songs! Remember George strumming his guitar at the Talent Show???

You should hear him in his dining room!

Soooo...other than drinking Coffee with JoAnn and George, last week was largely filled by VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL! It was an intense four days to say the least. But I am sure they will also be some of the most memorable.

Father Shoemaker developed the whole idea and planned the whole thing....which as you will see gives us only more insight into the Creative and UNIQUE mind of this priest. The Teens of the Youth Group showed up every day to help put it on. About 18 kids came...and as best as I could deduce...they had a great time.

The overall theme for the week was “The Great Detective Vacation Bible School: Come and Solve the Mystery.” You can see the flyer Father made below to catch the kids interest.

Father divided his time for the week between two personalities--Father David and Friar Mutt. Friar Mutt served as the Special Agent for the week. He really had a “nose” for the job as he is a third German Shepherd, a third Blood Hound, and a third Chihuahua. Friar Mutt teamed up with the Chief of Police--Big Vic--in an effort to transform the kids into real Detectives, equipped to search through and find answers to the mysteries of the Bible. Thankfully, to take on such a big task, Fr. Mutt and Big Vic were joined by a team of F.B.I. (Faith and Bible Investigators) Agents to help with this whole process.

After taking the official “Detective’s Pledge,” the new recruits were equipped with Detective Badges, Notepads, and Pens with which they would be able to do their Detective Work. Quickly they learned the 5 essential questions any detective must be read to ask: Who? What? When? Where? and Why?

With this in mind, Day 1 was spent discovering WHO are the Friends of Jesus? After much detective work, they became familiar with the names of the 12 apostles as well as Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Also they realized, Jesus wanted THEM to be his friends too!!! Shockingly, they then discovered that Jesus wants EVERYONE to be his friends! Pretty incredible discovery!

Once we had discovered WHO Jesus’ friends were, Day 2 was spent discovering WHAT the friends of Jesus’ do. The kids were shocked again to discover that Jesus’ friends had to love everyone---EVEN the kid who smelled bad in class, EVEN the kid who made fun of them, EVEN the kid who wiped his boogers on their backpack! But don’t worry...Jesus gives us his Spirit so we have the power to do this!

Day 3, we asked WHEN and WHERE Jesus’ friends are called to Love and Serve. Pretty much ANYTIME and ANYWHERE were the answers they found. Also on Day 3, the kids were given a Secret Mission which they first had to decode. Once the kids had decoded their Mission, Father led them down to the Church’s food pantry where they helped prepare food bags to be given out to the poor later on. The kids loved it!

Day 4, the detectives closed the case by asking WHY Jesus’ friends are called to Love and Serve Anytime and Anywhere. The answer seemed almost too simple--Because HE first loved us in this way! Because this is what we are created to do!

Here are some shots from through their week of investigating:

The excitement was pretty much too much to contain from the Get-Go

Everyone knows that Detectives warm up with Dancing

Clapping, Reaching, Running, Praying, and Jumping for Jesus is a great way to start the day
(Father made all of the music videos for the week using his mascot costumes, a video camera, a green screen, and his video editing skills)

The Bliss of singing "Na na na na na na na" during the song "Waves of Mercy"

Thank God for these FBI agents to show the kids how to do the motions to the songs

Big Vic passing out their Decoder Wheels to his new recruits

Big Vic's Morning Overview

Big Vic could only handle the heat created by the trench-coat for so long each day...

Friar Mutt and Cynthia act out the Good Samaritan Parable

Friar Mutt was getting tired, so Father subbed in for awhile....

One morning, one of our detectives showed up in a frenzy screaming, "I have a raccoon in my pants!!!!!" HAHAHAHA! After Big Vic explained that all wild animals had to be removed from detectives' undergarments so that they could concentrate on their investigating, this detective immediately shifted gears by going into his patented "Friar-Mutt-is-Coming-Frenzy!"

Hard at work....A blissfully calm moment for Big Vic, Friar Mutt, and the FBIs

Father's back...

One day we were honored with a visit from Sister Terry and Mrs Grayson. Sister Terry is a Trinitarian Sister who has been serving the Mobile Diocese in so many ways for many years. Recently she has been place in charge of all Religious Education for the 6 parishes in this region. Mrs. Grayson has been a Youth Minister in Montgomery for several years. In fact, she was one of those who helped Big Vic go through his Detective Work when he was just a "new recruit." Amazing what effects time, love, and grace can have on a life!

Gettin' fired up

Most days concluded with dodgeball in the backyard. After a long day of Detective work...you build up a lot of steam to blow off...

When Friar Mutt gets the ball...

You're All in BIG Trouble! hahaha

And how do you reward Detectives for their hard work in the Mysteries of faith in Christ??? Naturally, with an 18th foot inflatable Water Slide!!!!


After sliding, I heard this detective exclaim verbatim, "This is the most funnest thing I have done in my life!" Mission Accomplished :)


Can every week be VBS week?

This kind of high could only be thwarted by Moms' arriving in their minivans! Talk about "wailing and gnashing of teeth!" hahahaha... Simultaneously a taste of Heaven and a gentle reminder that it is still yet to come.

Thankfully for Big Vic and the FBI's, Father had rented the Slide until 4PM. Seeing that the last Detective left around 1PM...this was quite a treat. And just in case BJ and Victor may be reading this...know that I am...and always will be....the "King of the Slide!" :)

So that took us through Thursday afternoon!

SKEETER and the DADDY's Visit

Friday was my day off. Father also gave me permission to take Saturday off to spend some time with two of my best friends from my days at Furman--John (aka Skeeter) and Walker (aka The Daddy). These guys have a knack for nicknames I have never seen matched. They especially love assigning themselves names...John chose "Skeeter" our Sophomore year...borrowing from his Dad. Walker has been "The Daddy" even since I have known him. Nobody really understands it. But he seems to. And is always sure to remind you..."The Daddy's here...3 Ds...not 2...but 3"

What a blast to get together with these guys! Friends like these give us such insight into Christ's love for us. They help us to begin to fathom what Christ means when he says, "I no longer call you servants [but] friends" (John 15:15).

Thanks so much for taking the time and effort to come down and visit! And a special thanks to their wives--Katie and Shannon--for letting them off the hook for the weekend. It means so much. Much love to you both.

John drove down from Charleston, SC on Thursday and picked up Walker in Atlanta who had flown in from Dallas. They spent the night at my Mom's on Thursday Night and I met them Friday morning after Mass in Eufaula. We enjoyed one another in Montgomery until Saturday evening when we made our way down to Eufaula. I put John and Walker up at the Candlelight Inn...which was perfect. Thanks again to George and JoAnn for being such great hosts!

They came to Mass on Sunday morning and then took off...back to the grind. But not before we captured this moment together with Friat Mu....I mean Father David.

And with that concluded another week in Eufaula.


CANDLELIGHT INN: Seriously, go ahead and book your room. The rooms are so nice. There is not a dull square inch in the whole house. It is a slice of Americana you don't want to miss out on. And if you come before August 15th...we can share a cup of Coffee together on the front porch :)

Keep the Faith.Org: A buddy of mine sent me this link earlier this week. It is a site where you can get a lot of great talks, songs, and conferences for free. I esp. recommend checking out some of Archbishop Fulton Sheen's talks. He is one of the most famous American Preachers in the past century. Take some time and listen to one of his talks...you won't regret it.


Luke 11:1-13

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
"Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples."
He said to them, "When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test."

And he said to them, "Suppose one of you has a friend
to whom he goes at midnight and says,
'Friend, lend me three loaves of bread,
for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey
and I have nothing to offer him,'
and he says in reply from within,
'Do not bother me; the door has already been locked
and my children and I are already in bed.
I cannot get up to give you anything.'
I tell you,
if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves
because of their friendship,
he will get up to give him whatever he needs
because of his persistence.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive;
seek and you will find;
knock and the door will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks, receives;
and the one who seeks, finds;
and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
What father among you would hand his son a snake
when he asks for a fish?
Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg?
If you then, who are wicked,
know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will the Father in heaven
give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"


As always, a pleasure to share with you.

May God give us the eyes of FAITH...so that we may DISCOVER him more richly this week.

Let's pray for one another.

And as always. Feel free to shoot me an email with a specific intention:


Peace, Prayers, Love, Joy, and 3 D's