From the Mission Field: JPII Inspiration

JPII Calcutta

When one saint preaches the homily at another to-be saint’s beatification, you know it’s good. That was the case when (to be) Saint Pope John Paul the Great preached at Bl. Mother Teresa’s beatification. This homily is worth the read and perfectly timed for any Love Begins Here missionaries who want to celebrate the legacy of JPII this weekend.

Also, if you’re curious where the words above came from, check out this short quote from Jason Evert’s book Saint John Paul the Great:

When visiting the poorest of the poor at Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute and dying in Calcutta, he reminded them, “You are not God’s abandoned children. Quite the opposite. God will find joy in your faith and courage.” … He felt so at home with the poor that when visiting Mother Teresa in Calcutta, someone nearby heard him whisper to her, “If I could, I would make this my headquarters as Pope.”

Happy Canonization weekend! (In case you’re looking to throw a canonization party, check out this Pinterest board.) Saint John Paul the Great, pray for Love Begins Here, our missionaries, our Core Team and all Madison Catholic Youth!

John Paul II, we love you.

There are a few things we want to share with you on this spring day!

First up, in case you haven’t seen it, the Love Begins Here promo video launched yesterday. One of the coolest facebook posts we saw in conjunction with a share of it, was the following, by Dan, a former missionary who is in his first year of college.

Words cannot describe the joy and good fruits that so beautifully radiate from Love Begins Here and these people, so I am just going to leave this video here with a piece of advice: do it. You will never regret making that decision to take part in one of the most life changing things I have ever experienced.



Second, we would like for you to save the date of October 19th. At 1:00pm in the afternoon, Chris Stefanick (international Catholic speaker and the brains behind Chosen) will be making a stop in the Diocese of Madison. (St. John the Baptist in Waunakee will host us!) He will speak with teens and parents for a couple hours that afternoon as a part of the Revolution of Love Series that will be coming back for the 2014 – 2015 school year. We will have more information to share later this spring!

Third, congrats to Topher (from Camp Gray!) and Anna (2014 LBH Core Team member) on winning the JP2 Book giveaways last week! They will be in the mail on Friday.

JPII Demanding Love

On the topic of this great to-be saint, we thought that over the next few weeks we could share with you some inspiration and insights from the book. Today’s summary is of chapter 7, on his love for young people. (In case you are curious, chapters 1 – 6 are a biography.)

Blessed John Paul II’s great love for the youth and commitment to them can teach us many things. The following are four lessons we, especially those who work with teens, can learn from him.

1. Be present.
John Paul immersed himself in his interactions with the youth, from his young years as a priest unto his aging years as our Holy Father. An University instructor who spent time with him and the youth on wilderness trips recalled, “He lived and breathed these problems [on their hearts]. And because young people live and breathe love, he lived and breathed these young people’s love.” Not only did he enter into their deepest questions and struggles, he literally made himself available, regularly announcing to the youth where he was staying so they could visit him on his travels. We all have many things fighting for our attention. The fact of the matter is that we must put them down and order our days (and lives) to be available and present to the hearts of our teens.

2. Do not compromise on the truth.
John Paul did not believe in shying away from teaching and preaching the truth. He recognized that the world already sold the youth short, and he did not want to join them in doing so. As Jason writes, “if he had lowered the standard, he’d have missed the chance to invite people to live lives of heroic virtue.” Our young people want the truth and want to be challenged. Be a beacon of light and truth for them, in the midst of this often dark world.

3. Whatever you do, remain authentic.
What John Paul believed and what he said were one in the same. He took his call to witness to his Catholic faith very seriously. He made it known that encountering Christ changes ones life. We are called to that same witness, preaching that we have a “real capacity to become the image of his Son”, rather than believing we are “the sum of our weaknesses and failures.”

4. Make your who life about love.
Here Jason tells a story of the young people on John Paul’s first visit to the USA chanting “John Paul II, we love you!” The Holy Father, so delighted by their excitement and genuine love, responded, “Perhaps, I love you more.” He knew that by loving the young people, he could introduce them to the love that will solve all their problems and answer all of their questions. He called them to live in that love, in true freedom, regardless of how demanding of a task it might seem to be. Taking his witness to heart, we need to be devoted to loving the folks the Lord puts in our lives, so that along they way we can offer them His love.

Wanderer Wednesday: What’s the Holy Father saying?

Wanderer Wednesday

If you’ve been reading along with Wanderer Wednesday posts from the beginning, you would know that among the sources that I go for my Church-y news the blog, and even more often, the Twitter feed of Rocco Palmo is at the top of my list. Feel free to join me and follow along for the highlights of who’s saying what, which Bishops are moving about and if the Holy Father has been up to anything exciting (which is a daily occurrence).

However, if you find the news wire on such a variety of Catholic related topics to be overwhelming and you are just looking for what’s at the heart of the matter, over in Rome, we have another recommendation. A bonus of looking into this sources of news would be that you will have an unfiltered opportunity to see what Pope Francis has really been preaching, saying and doing, rather than the mass media’s interpretation of it.

1381718_611106608953360_316312886_nPhoto Source:’s Facebook Page

Through the Vatican Information Service (VIS), you can get the latest from the heart of the Church shortly after Roman noon e-mailed straight to your inbox. That convenient timing means you can begin your morning with checking in with Pope Francis! To subscribe, visit the VIS blog, click the Receive VIS link at the top of the page and enter in your preferred e-mail address. While I do not thoroughly read this e-mail top to bottom every day, I make sure to scan the headlines and read what is of greatest interest in my life and of utmost relevance in my work. A few highlights lately include the Pope’s address to catechists a few week’s back, his homily on Mary this past weekend (while he consecrated the world to our Blessed Mother!) and his address this week to some members of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization.

Enjoy the latest and greatest, friends!

Wanderer Wednesday: Vatican News Style

Perhaps you’ve seen this —

love our Holy Father. His witness to this media savvy world where information can be shared with a click will change hearts. Many of them.

On that account, I wanted to share today a few (more) sources where you can access the latest and greatest from our Holy Father. Next week, perhaps we’ll get away from the Papal theme of Wanderer Wednesday. It’s hard to say.

Wanderer Wednesday

Rome Reports (The source of the above video.)
This fantastic YouTube channel delivers news from Rome typically a few times a day. Among the other great features of the channel, the best for native (and solely) English speakers like myself is that the commentary and translation is provided in our language! It is so powerful to share with the youth we teach, as well as our family and friends, what is happening at the Vatican and how real, authentic and humble of a Shepherd we are being led by!

Vatican Information Service
Wake up to great updates from the Vatican every day by subscribing to this daily e-mail newsletter from the Vatican’s news office. With the news being released every day at Roman noon, you can literally wake up with the latest from the Church in your inbox every morning. Included in the news bulletin are translated summaries of what the Holy Father said that day, what his schedule included, who he met with (which was extra exciting during the Bishop’s ad limina visit last fall), his monthly prayer intentions and any canonical updates of appointments of all varieties.

The Pope App
If you have a smartphone and you haven’t downloaded the free Pope App, you need to stop reading and do so right now. (For Android Users || For iPhone Users) If you haven’t been reading along with Pope Francis’ latest inspiration bombs, check out his homily from the Mass for the beginning of the Petrine Ministry of Pope Francis. It was incredible. If you had the handy app on your phone you could pull it up with two clicks, as well as the latest photos of what’s happening in his life and more. Take a look at a few screenshots below.

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With that, enjoy checking in on the latest in Pope Francis’ life. This weekend promises to be an exciting one, especially as he visits His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI for lunch on Saturday.

Wanderer Wednesday: Habemus Papam Edition!

Welcome to Wanderer Wednesday!


Photo from Word on Fire. Click the photo above to visit the original blog post.

HABEMUS PAPAM! Earlier this afternoon, the social media world was totally taken over by the news of the day, the election of our new Holy Father, His Holiness Francis. There is a lot to learn about our new Holy Father, so I thought it would be fitting to share a few more papal resources that will help you navigate the coming days.

First off, not only is Fr. Robert Barron providing correspondance for NBC, but he is also posting video blogs to the Word on Fire website. A few notable things about his perspective includes his evangelical spirit – always seeking to teach while sharing the news and how well connected he is – in one blog post, it sounded like he had hung out with the majority of the super cool (non-Cardinal) Catholics in town at one dinner!

Second, on a non-Pontiff related note, while you’re checking out Word on Fire for news from Rome this week, stick around for a while and see what else they have to offer, such as Fr. Robert Barron’s weekly homily audio recordings. Also, they are producing an DVD to help teach about the New Evangelization, in the same style as their incredible Catholicism Series.

Third on the list of resources to share this week is certainly the most important one you could have access to during the pontificate of His Holiness Francis – the Vatican’s website. While things are in a bit of a transition over there right now, in the coming days we are likely to see a page like the one below created for our new Holy Father. You will be able to access it from the front page of the Vatican website, by hovering over the words “SUPREME PONTIFFS” and selecting his name.

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From this one page, you will be able to read along with everything this great shepherd will say and write in the coming days, weeks, and (we hope) years and years to come. The Vatican website serves as a beautiful witness to the universality of this great Church, as speeches documents are regularly translated into at least five languages making the words and thoughts of our Holy Father accessible to a wide range of faithful.

As the media will have many things to tell us about this new leader of the Church, perhaps today is a good day to make a resolution to care relatively little about what they have to tell us about Pope Francis. Rather, let our new Pope tell you for himself what he is all about, especially as you now know exactly where to find the first hand source yourself.

(Congratulations to Wes for the win on last week’s Wanderer Wednesday Giveaway!)

Keeping Up With The Conclave

And, we’re back. This winter has been one of the busiest yet for Madison Catholic Youth, with rEVOLution of Love, March for Life, Frassati Fest and Planning Day all in the span of less than a month. Follow up the events of the past month with a rockin’ Benefit Dinner for our beloved Diocesan summer camp, which the primary editor of these pages chaired, and you have found an explanation for the silence on this blog.

In the coming days and weeks, things hardly promise to slow down with the launch of the Love Begins Here registration in the coming days and the events surrounding the election of our next Holy Father. However, there will be a renewed commitment to this very blog in the weeks to come, in order to help you navigate the news, events and goings on of the time.

To begin, today marks the first day of a new effort on the blog, suggested by the incredible Jess Davis, youth minister out in Sun Prairie at Sacred Hearts. There’s a lot out there in the world to read and take in for those of us who either love the Church and/or work for the Church. How do you know which books to pick up, blogs to read, twitter accounts to follow and Facebook pages to like without feeling incredibly overwhelmed by the decisions alone?

Here comes the help. Every week, right here on the blog, we will present Wanderer Wednesday, where we will highlight books, blogs and other social media sites to help you not wander aimlessly when searching for the best Catholic resources online and in print.

Wanderer Wednesday

Today’s Wanderer Wednesday is going to feature my favorite of each media site I will be using in the next month to follow the conclave and events leading up to the election of our new Holy Father.

First off, as a bonus, check out this great video from Lifeteen paying tribute to Pope Benedict XVI and his great love of the youth. (Thanks to Jenna Keller for the sharing of this one!) The past eight years have certainly been blessed for the young Church.

Screen Shot 2013-02-27 at 11.43.40 AM

A Favorite BlogWhispers In The Loggia
Rocco Palmo, a young adult from Philadelphia, has been breaking news to the Church throughout the world for years. At times like these, he is gifted at providing a bit of commentary on the latest, while including the full texts of the most recent speeches, homilies and news items. While the Vatican’s news page was down the morning of February 11th due to heavy traffic, when Pope Benedict XVI announced his decision, readers (like me) were able to visit Whispers for the full text without any problems. Rocco’s twitter feed is good to follow, as well.

This Handy Facebook
The most current of Catholic news is always shared through this Facebook page, but I think the greatest service it provides are beautiful photographs of the latest universal Church events. A bonus is that they are easily sharable for your friends, so you can take part in the new evangelization with ease.

The Pope’s TwitterPontifex
While this Twitter is going to lay dormant during the conclave, during this time of sede vacante, the beat on the street is that the Pope will tweet one last time before his resignation tomorrow. And, it will be exciting to see how quickly our new Holy Father embraces his Twitter feed.

Reliable Secular NewsNBC + Fr. Robert Barron
Master of the new evangelization and the mind behind the Catholicism series, Fr. Robert Barron, has signed on with NBC to cover the news for their networks over the coming weeks. Fr. Barron is gifted at sharing the truth of the Church with the world, and I think it will be worthwhile to tune in and listen to his coverage.

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Streaming Catholic NewsEWTN
Anyone with cable will be able to tune into EWTN to catch the live coverage of the Pope leaving the Vatican, the events of the conclave and the eventual outpouring of the white smoke from the roof of the Sistine Chapel. In theory anyone with a steady internet connection should be able to tune in, as well (via their website linked above); though, it seems like their server may not be able to handle their own popularity very well. Hopefully in the coming days they will increase their bandwidth and live streaming will be more widely available.

As with many things Catholic in the world, the news is often provided by means of support from the faithful. Perhaps consider in the coming weeks, how you can prayerfully and financially support those news outlets you frequent most, be it Rocco, EWTN or your local Parish and holy priests!

Hopefully this was a good kick off of Madison Catholic Youth’s Wanderer Wednesday. Check back on future Wednesdays for more resources, so you can stay in the know without spending too much time wandering on your own!

@pontifex, #frassatifest + social media, oh my!

Vatican Pope Tweets@pontifex

Our Holy Father is so hip. As of today, he is tweeting. Talk about inspiration in 140 characters. Check out the following questions he answered today:

How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?
By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.

How can faith in Jesus be lived in a world without hope?
We can be certain that a believer is never alone. God is the solid rock upon which we build our lives and his love is always faithful.

Any suggestions on how to be more prayerful when we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?
Offer everything you do to the Lord, ask his help in all the circumstances of daily life and remember that he is always beside you.

What a day to be out on Twitter. In honor of this great occasion, head on out to your Twitter account and give the Pope some love! Follow him, RT his tweets and like his posts. While you’re at it, visit @madisoncatholic, follow us, use the official #frassatifest hashtag, and spread around the following photo!



Don’t let this busy season stress you out —photo 2

photo 1


Instead, take Mary as your model.

The Virgin Mary perfectly embodies the spirit of Advent, which consists of listening to God, a profound desire to do His will, and joyful service to others. Let us be guided by her, so that God who is coming may not find us closed or distracted, but might extend to each of us a small part of His kingdom of love, of justice, and of peace. – Pope Benedict XVI, First Sunday of Advent, 2012


photo 3

Sneak Peak: Year of Faith Resolutions

The following is an article I wrote appearing in this week’s issue of The Catholic Herald on how to go about making some Year of Faith resolutions. Enjoy the preview — and make sure to pick up a copy in the next few days.

Most Americans are familiar with New Years resolutions; many embrace them with enthusiasm for the first two weeks of January each year. As winter trudges on, those resolutions lose some of their fervor. Almost all Catholics are familiar with the practice of fasting from things they enjoy each Lent; the good majority stay strong throughout those forty days.

Based on the success rates of keeping resolutions, it seems like the better and more serious a reason to make one in the first place, the more enthusiasm and effort is put forth in keeping it.

As this Year of Faith began in early October, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his opening homily spoke of a “desertification” happening throughout the world. Many people have found themselves drifting away from the practice of the faith, putting stake in the world’s definition of happiness and no longer desiring the beautiful.

He has spoken. This is a serious problem for the world, pertinent for everyone from faithful Catholics to those who are far away from the Church. This problem is not going to remain an unsolved riddle. The Holy Father spoke of a solution you can be a part of during the upcoming 13 months.

In his homily at the Mass opening the Year of Faith, he told all Catholics that “in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive.”

If you are up for the challenge of being a person of faith in the dessert, you may be interested in the following four ideas of resolutions to take on during this Year of Faith, as inspired by the Holy Father’s and Fr. Eric Sternberg’s opening homilies on this momentous occasion.

Number One: Go to Mass and listen. As Fr. Sternberg told the students, if you show up and listen during Mass this year, there is no way that you are not going to get the point and deepen your faith. Priests around the Diocese and the world are going to be teaching from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents of the Second Vatican Council. Listen carefully; your life is about to be transformed.

Number Two: Pray. There is no better way to figure out how the Lord wants to use you in the desert this year other than by being in regular communication with him. Do not be surprised if deepening your prayer life leads you to Confession or taking seriously the following two resolutions.

Number Three: Do something big. (Caveat: Fr. Sternberg told the students at St. Paul’s not to drop out of school. That doesn’t make parents happy.) As for the rest, if the Lord has given you a call, now is the time to embrace it. Perhaps consider doing something big that will invite someone to come back to the Church; put witnessing to what you believe at the top of your list of ideas.

Number Four: Live with joy. As the Holy Father said this week, “We should live with joy in our hearts. We can be happy because Jesus’ goodness remains and is strong.”

For those of you who struggle with resolutions day to day, for the forty days of Lent or during each new year, do not fear. This Year of Faith is not the time for doubt or waiting around; it is a call for action. Let the Lord know about your resolutions and allow the Holy Spirit to give you the grace and energy needed to keep them.

– Lindsay, Coordinator of Youth & Young Adult Formation

Our Patron’s BIG Feast Day!

October 22nd.

34 years ago Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.

Today the American Church is celebrating his feast day for the first time.

I am fairly positive you would really enjoy the Office of Readings for today, featuring the homily newly elected Pope John Paul II gave on that day. Though it may have been done hundreds of times today, it doesn’t hurt to quote these famous words again: “Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.

On a perhaps lesser known note, I wanted to offer an explanation of the quote on the photo above. During mission trips this summer, a young missionary told me a story about JPII after I shared a series of stories about him during our final night together. Gary told me about the time when during a speech to a group of young people who were chanting, “We love you” he responded with the classic words, “Perhaps I love you more.”

This happened during Pope John Paul II’s first trip to the United States as our Holy Father. He was speaking with a group of students at CUA. (Feel free to watch this beautiful moment for yourself — it occurs between minutes 2:00 and 4:00.)

That day, I am sure he meant those spoken words. More powerfully, he demonstrated this love for them throughout his entire Papacy. He taught the young Catholics of the world the art of living and loving. During each one of his 104 foreign trips around the world, he addressed the young people of the nation he was visiting. And throughout them all, he taught the path to true love —

“Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission if I did not clearly tell you so. For it was Jesus—our Jesus himself—who said : “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (Jn 15 :14). Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God. It means discipline and sacrifice, but it also means joy and human fulfillment.

Dear young people : do not be afraid of honest effort and honest work; do not be afraid of the truth. With Christ’s help, and through prayer, you can answer his call, resisting temptations and fads, and every form of mass manipulation. Open your hearts to the Christ of the Gospels—to his love and his truth and his joy. Do not go away sad!”

Homily on October 1, 1979 in Boston

Today, and every day, do not hesitate to ask this master in living and loving to intercede for you, the young people of the Church and all of those who work with the youth of the Diocese. Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!