Big THANKS to the Catholic Herald!

Hey blog readers,

I, along with the rest of the Core Team, hope that you all have had a great week of continuing to begin love in your own homes. It’s been a good transition week for all of us, and we’re still up for the challenge of loving our family members and friends in our “normal” lives.
We got some great press this past week about LBH in the Catholic Herald, and we wanted to share it with all of you. Thank you to Kat Wagner for visiting us in the Mission Field last week and hearing about LBH2010.
Feel free to stop by the Catholic Herald website to read the story:
With that, enjoy this summer weekend. The Core Team will be reunited to process the summer, and we will certainly be lifting up prayers for all of the participants of this summer and our supporters!

All Things New

Hello faithful blog readers,

We’re sorry that we’ve kept you so long without an update. We promise that a lengthier entry will be coming your way later today or tomorrow with a bunch of good details about this week, but for now, a few highlights…
– We were blessed to spend Tuesday evening with a generous parishioner who let us see the Madison area from new heights.
– The HS has been working overtime – Mohawks, weather and so much more.
– So much love has begun in this community and other places in the Madison Diocese. “Love begins when painting buildings,” as one participant says.

Thank you for your support and prayers. Please keep them coming as we wrap up this final week.


Extreme Church Makeover

The 4th Week of Love Begins Here is off to quite the fantastic start, and we’re really happy that you have stopped by to hear about it. While you’re reading about the latest and greatest in the LBH world, feel free for up a few prayers for us.

There have been some definite themes emerging in the midst of our work this week – mainly those of Church remodeling and renovation or extreme competition. Let’s get you caught up to speed.

On Sunday evening, much to the surprise of the Core Team, there seemed to be a secret competition among all of the families dropping off young people to be the first to arrive; in fact, this was taken so seriously that the majority of our participants had shown up 5 minutes before 5pm. With all of that eagerness, we quickly transitioned into getting to know one another in the kitchen, making dinner and playing silly games for quite some time. The following is the second place team (minus me) in the name game ball game.

Though competition was stiff, if paled in comparison to the train wreck we experienced next. After enjoying a delightful dinner of stir fry, we were on to more games and prayer, as we explored the darkness in our lives and gave them over to Jesus.

On Monday morning, we woke up bright and early to head over for 6:30 Mass at St. Maria Goretti in Madison. Not only was it wonderful to have the chance to get spiritually filled up for the day, but we also has the chance to go to Mass said by Fr. David Caranno, one of the two priests ordained this past month for the Madison Diocese. As an LBH-alum from last summer, it was great to catch up and have the pleasure of benefitting from his priestly ministry.

Anyways, after a quick breakfast, some lunch packing and getting on the road, we were ready to more formal begin LOVE in the greater-Madison area. One of our groups headed down to Ridgeway to give some help to St. Bridget in the form of beginning the task of cleaning and repainting the entire Church. Quite the task, but this fine crew was up to starting this task.

You can see a portion of the task that laid ahead of us behind them. It was amazing to see what fan be done by a small crew like that in one day.

The other half of the group stayed back in Verona, where we set to work painting, cleaning, repairing, and more around St. Andrew’s. Again, we blew ourselves away with how much good can be done in the course of a day where people are giving all of their efforts over to Jesus. It probably didn’t hurt that a pair of Jean shorts were thrown into the mix.

The above picture was taken while doing some work cleaning in the cemetery next door. Many analogies were brainstormed while literally clinging to the Cross.

After this hard day of work, we met up for dimmer, swimming and showers at a nearby state park. We encountered many new opportunities for competition, including scavenging for dive sticks or holding the first ever LBH dive and dance competition, which provided for many great laughs.

Upon returning home, we held one intensely fun BIRTH PARTY, because we’re all alive.

We chatted about the tragedy of abortion, what it means to CHOOSE LIFE, and learned a lot about human development in the womb.

With such a busy day, we hardly had the energy to keep our eyes open as we brushed our teeth and crawled into bed, after praying Night Prayer together.

With that, blog readers, we’re going to have to sign off for today. Tune in tomorrow for more good news from the Mission Field.

– Your LBH Correspondant, Lindsay

Location:E Harriet St,Verona,United States

Weekend Reflections

As the Core Team and some of our favorite LBH2010 Volunteers has the chance to get away for the weekend to take in beautiful sights and experience new adventurers, we had a bit of time to reflect, as well. We have all been thankful for the ways that this summer has brought us closer to Christ, the youth we work with and each other.

A few of my favorite reflections and quotations from evaluations follow…
– A fellow CT member told me this weekend that they would be ready for a 5th week. The Lord has certainly provided us with an abundance of energy to go about this work for Him.
– “I realize that all of the small ways that you can help, even in your own community, are all very powerful, especially if you go about it for Jesus.” – Week One HS Participant
– There has never been a shortage of work for us to complete or people to share love with. God is faithful, and these past weeks have been a great opportunity for us to learn to trust Him in deeper ways.
– As three different sets of parents dropped off their kids for this week, we had the chance to hear how their Middle School kids were impacted, changed and grew last week. We are always thankful for the positive feedback and words of encouragement from parents.
– We have been blessed by encountering many new supporters of LBH and have been humbled by their generosity towards us.

To wrap up this mid-summer reflection, I will leave you with the words of our very own Madison Seminarian, David Johannes, as he was reflecting on the question: What does Love Begins Here mean to me?

“The experience of Love Begins Here opens the participants heart and eyes to God’s love. God initialized the love which calls out in our hearts to love our neighbor and this program responds to just that, I witnessed a joy from the youth that I didn’t expect. Love was poured out to one another in this group, to other Catholics, in their homes and through a space designated to encounter Christ in a closer manner. Love was witnessed in the preparing of meals and then delivering them via meals on wheels, love was sweated out in the clearing of homes and conversations with the elderly, love was the compassion to a family with a disabled child needing treatment, love was the witness of the joy of Christ in our hearts to the disbelieved and non-Christian, and love was the friendship amongst brothers and sisters who would have otherwise called each other “stranger”.

Love Begins Here is the response of love to the Father who loved us first and continues to love each of us with an everlasting love.”

Praise the Lord! Please keep praying for LBH, those who lead it, those who participate in and those who so generously support us in prayer and through other means, that we can continue to serve the poor with joyful hearts.

Thursday and Friday in the MS LBH World!

We sure had a busy couple of days… let’s take a look at a few photo highlights of the past 36 hours or so to see where we have been and where we are going. Yesterday, we continued on in helping out the Nazareth House, which literally is right next door. Love was begun all over their gardens in the form of weeding, clearing, tilling and sweeping. They were looking quite nice once all was said and done. A number of residents even came out to visit with us, thank us for our work or just watch these good things happen.

During the day yesterday, we all also had the chance to visit Three Gaits, which is a therapeutic horse center. We painted, cleaned, helped out with office work, and even had a chance to meet some of the animals who are crucial in the treatment many people receive there. Here is a crew of kids who spent their morning painting and freshening up the property.

Another group yesterday afternoon tackled a large project of cleaning up a beautiful statue of the Holy Family, which was buried under a large amount of dirt and grime from years of build up. It took a large group of kids, a lot of elbow grease, and a little bit of Dawn. Mary, Jesus and Joseph were looking pretty good by the end of the day.

After our afternoon showers and rosaries, we had the privilege of experiencing a Seder Meal, as Jesus would have experienced it himself at the Last Supper, followed by the Living Stations of the Cross. When you see a Week 3 LBH Participant, feel free to ask them about what they learned about the 4th Cup. It will blow your mind. The following is Simon helping Jesus carry his cross.

While keep our good friend Sharon occupied, we got together one pretty awesome birthday party, because she was celebrating the beginning of her 50th year of life. We brought her outside for a beautiful sunset, sharing of the “Happy Birthday” song, and more, before heading back in for a birthday treat of pizza and ice cream cones. With all of that fresh nourishment, we were ready for an energetic session of Parish Time, followed by a game of reflecting on our weeks. All in all, we averaged a 9.74/10 for how we are feeling on the end of our week. That’s pretty much an A+ week…
And if you ever doubted that 57 middle schoolers could make a difference in the world, check out this statistic: overall this week, 700 hours of service was given by our group in the Madison area. That equals a little more than 29 full days (24 hours a day) of “love beginning” all around us.
While we’re in the business of sharing statistics, how about this: in 2 summers of Love Begins Here so far, 3,188 hours of service have been given to the greater Madison area by Madison area youth. That equals nearly 132 full days. Holy guacamole, God is good!
Stay tuned blog readers for all the updates of our final week of LBH starting Sunday. 🙂

Middle Schoolers GALORE.

Well, faithful readers. We’ve kept you in the dark long enough. I bet you want to hear all about the goodness of what has been one crazy, fun, service filled week with a LOT of Middle Schoolers this week.

On Tuesday afternoon, a slew of enthusiastic pre-teens rolled into St. Ann’s in Stoughton, WI, where we have been in the midst of an action packed couple of days.

(That action packed photo was snapped during a great game of Ship, Ship Cross My Ocean last night.) Upon arrival Tuesday evening, we spent a good deal of time getting to know each other in crazy ways, like playing train wreck and one intense name game competition. We also shared a meal of pizza and veggies, before we spent some time learning about how our lifestyle at LBH would resemble the lifestyle of the Missionaries of Charity (the order that our patron Blessed Mother Teresa founded).

Our evening gathering included some contemplating of the darkness in our lives and how to let in Christ, who is the light. We also enjoyed some birth cake while chatting with our friends who came with from our own parishes. After a busy day, we enjoyed a good night’s sleep, so we could be well rested for the day of work ahead.

On Wednesday morning, we had the pleasure of waking up and celebrating Mass with each other to kick off our day. After having the great gift of the Eucharist come and nourish our lives, we were ready for breakfast and leaning about what the day held in store for us.

Some of us spent time visiting with elderly members of the community and playing cards at a neighborhood nursing home.

We also got to work in the gardens in the courtyards of this nursing home.

And, some of us painted in classrooms here at St. Ann’s.

There was also a crew of hard workers that put together our dinner of tacos and all of then fixings.

After these hours of hard work, the LBHers headed to the local community center for a quick shower and a time to rest for a few minutes. Upon returning to St. Ann’s, we enjoyed that delightful taco dinner that was prepared for us by our fellow Mission Trippers. Wow, that feast was pretty much nothing compared to the feast of grace that we enjoyed by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation later that evening. We would like to give a big shout out to the three priests who heard our Confessions – Fr. Randy (Holy Rosary, Darlington), Msgr. Healy (St. Ann’s, Stoughton), and Msgr. Baxter (St. James, Madison). After loving our Lord and the gift of forgiveness, we headed out for the aforementioned game of Ship, Ship Cross My Ocean, some quality time with our Parish groups and got ready for bed, so we were able to spend the whole day ahead of us serving the Lord by way of helping our neighbors in need.
We’ll give you the update about todays good work tomorrow, so stay tuned! In the meantime, keep offering up the prayers for us. We appreciate your love and support in that way.

Trees, rummage sales and ice cream stops, oh my!

What do you get when you mix Madison Seminarian David Johannes in with a handful of high school youth, some good tunes, him driving his red Volvo, and a final destination? Well, you some serious detours through the greater Madison area to find the best ice cream or custard possible. This was taken to new heights yesterday, as his car group made a 9am pit stop at the local Culvers for some tasty breakfast custard. Mmmm… at least that stop was well deserved for that car group because they were the first out the door on the way to morning Mass.

Anyways, we are jumping the gun just a bit. Let’s take a look at some highlights of the recent days.

Tuesday evening we spent a bit of our evening in Governor Dodge State Park playing, laying in the sun, competing and catching some air. Many beautiful sights were taken in.

On Wednesday, we took off for Middleton where a new project of garage cleaning and garage sale preparations laid before us. Upon arriving, a crew got to work moving a van and camper out of the driveway and the others took some senior portraits and cheesy family photos.

After such successful distractions, we got to work cleaning and sorting. Some of the items we found really took some time to get acquainted with.

Once Seminarian David got this tree working, we had some serious tunes to jam to. Lucky us.

As we were busy in Middleton, a group resumed work in Mount Horeb with some older members of the community. This great photo was snapped while working at our good friend Jerry’s house, who we’ve had the pleasure to spend lots of time with both this year and last on LBH.

The final group worked spent one last day in Dodgeville at the Kramers clearing out some very large trees in order to see more easily the beautiful cross on the far end of their property.

Those who worked out there definitely recalled being able to see the God face to face in their work.

After all of that great work, we made a stop by the O’Connor Center for a swim before heading home and enjoying the 2010 LBH hit meal of chicken stir fry. We are loving the fresh foods and meal preparation by the kids this year. During dinner, Fr. Bakke joined us taking the total of priests in our presence to two, as Fr. Randy from Darlington had already joined our group for our afternoon of work. Good thing they did, because after dinner, we were ready to receive some serious grace in the Sacrament of Confession. We are so grateful for there presence and love of LBH. After receiving the Sacrament, we played some ultimate spoons, ate peach pie, an shared about our days.

Before praying Night Prayer and turning into bed, we also got in a game of sardines. David revealed some interesting talents during the game, and we found out about one thing that CT member Aaron… he’s not a huge fan of creepy laughing voices.

Thursday brought the aforementioned trip to morning Mass and a lot more cleaning, organizing, and mulching. We certainly had a lot of fun beginning love in the Madison area, and some of our car groups even had a little bit of time to spare so they made a quick trip to the Madison zoo.

A lot of fun ensued and even though we were tired when we got back to St. Mary’s, a quick round of naps and a rosary got us through before the EPIC events of the night. Those events are too much to be included in this post, so stay tuned for the post to come, which will detail the awesomeness of our Thursday night and Friday morning.

Location:Trees, rummage sales and