Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Solid Wall Of Brass Against Opposition: Cardinal Harvey's Homily at Cor Jesu

Last night I had the great opportunity to attend Cor Jesu, an Archdiocese of Milwaukee initiative held at  St.Robert Parish in Shorewood, WI. Last night's Mass was a very special occasion with Cardinal James Harvey, Prefect of the Papal Household, presiding at Mass. 

Cardinal Harvey's homily was outstanding and much of what he said spoke directly to my heart. Cardinal Harvey, while quoting Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic philosopher, theologian and humanitarian, stated that, " even in our brokenness and uniqueness we can bring people to come know God."

So many times I am convinced that I need to do something big and important in order to attract other people to God. I convince myself that I need to be an intelligent theologian, an extremely generous philanthropist, a brave missionary or an accomplished writer and speaker in order to give God proper glory.

Cardinal Harvey's homily reminded me that I don't need to be anything but myself in order to spread the Gospel. It is a comfort that no matter what intellectual limitations, lack of theological learning, or brokenness that we possess, "God makes us a solid wall of brass against any opposition," and will love us just the way we are. Despite obstacles, we will be able to spread His Good News in very remarkable ways.

To Hear Cardinal Harvey's full homily please visit under "Homilies".

Monday, July 28, 2014

Clarity Moves Through Silence: Reflecting On The Words Of Matthew Kelly

Last Friday I had the awesome opportunity to go and hear Matthew Kelly, a world renowned Catholic motivational speaker and best-selling author at St. Leonard Catholic Church in Muskego, WI. Traveling with the Dynamic Catholic Institute, Matthew Kelly and gifted musician Eliot Morris presented the event, Living Every Day With Passion and Purpose. It was the first time I had heard Matthew Kelly speak in person and it was extremely exciting. He is such a powerful speaker and his love for the church and its people is very clear. You could just sense the energy and excitement through the entire church building.

I really felt that this event came at a perfect time for our Archdiocese, our individual parish communities and especially in my life. Living in a world of intense noise and distraction, a large majority of us, myself included, get so caught up in what the world wants our driving forces and motivations to be, that we lose sight of what we should be focusing on.

 I struggle with this a ton. I want to be the biggest champion for God, but I get so distracted by what the world can offer me instead. I listen to the opinions that the world has of me as a young adult Catholic and before I know it, I am heading down the opposite direction from God. It happens to all of us. It’s hard to be focused and engaged, when you live in constant noise. 

Matthew Kelly brought up the point that, “if we as Catholics want to live with passion and purpose, we need to have personal clarity.” Personal clarity is the ability to know:

Who you are
What you are here for
What matters most in your life
What matters least

It’s a huge challenge to be able to have personal clarity in today’s culture, but God who dwells in the silence of our hearts brings us to where we are supposed to be. Clarity moves through silence in the midst of a world drowning out our passions and desires with noise.

To be more engaged Catholics and more complete human beings, we need to separate our hearts and our minds from the world, and place them in the silence that will bring a sense of wholeness and clear vision.

How do you make time for peace and quiet in your life?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Gratitude, Humility & Surrender

"We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God." - St. Francis De Sales

Recently I’ve been picking up some interesting books at the library detailing, “CEO success stories”, and “ways to advance your career.” I often find myself to be very impatient with the way a current job or financial situation is working out and so I’m constantly looking at ways to improve myself. When it comes to the impatient feelings, I know that I am not alone. No one is being okay with being mediocre.

What if God wants us to be in this state of dissatisfaction though? I’m not saying that God takes pleasure in seeing us complain and be unhappy. We do not have a God who laughs at our shortcomings. I feel that we do sometimes overlook the idea that God’s will for us at this very moment, is to stay put with the way our lives are panning out now. God could care less if we were CEO’s of billion dollar companies or have stellar reputations. God does care however, about how we use the times that we struggle with being ordinary. When we feel impatient and wish that things could be better; do we pray for the grace to accept things the way they are? Or do we grumble and complain?

 I think there is always a great need for us to be grateful for what have. It can be through these avenues of ordinary living in fact, that we really come to understand the way God works. God wants us to be patient with Him. God is in control at every moment and that’s a great comfort that we can give our restlessness to.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Keeping Our Doors Open: OremusMKE Event July 25th

"Today we need a Church capable of walking at people's side, of doing more than simply listening to them; a Church which accompanies them on their journey." - Pope Francis (World Youth Day 2013)

On Friday July 25th, a night when the Riverwest neighborhood will be buzzing with the Riverwest 24 ( a 24 hour bike race event), Our Lady of Czestochowa Catholic Church located on 3055 N. Fratney St. Milwaukee, WI 53212, will be opening its doors from 9pm until midnight inviting anyone passing by to have an opportunity to spend some time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Beautiful music performed by Mr. Jacob Heidel, Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Bernadette Catholic Church, and an opportunity to go to confession will also be available.

This is a beautiful opportunity to grow in faith and in fellowship within the Riverwest community.

Hope to see you there!

For more information please visit the OremusMKE facebook page at

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Vocation To "The Now"

Wednesdays seem to be the most refreshing days for me. This is partly because every Wednesday is when Cor Jesu, a young adult event featuring a Eucharistic Holy Hour and Mass, as well as a social gathering, is held at St. Robert Parish in Shorewood,Wisconsin.

Last night was a special treat as Bishop Hying presided at the Holy Hour and Mass. Bishop Hying is an excellent homilist and his words always bring forth a great sense of gentleness and wisdom. Since yesterday was the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Caramel, Bishop Hying reminded us of her willingness to give all of herself over in order to do the will of God. She lived in the present moment. Never looking back at the past while never looking too much toward the future that she became anxious or afraid of fulfilling her call. She saw the opportunity that God was calling her to and she made the most of it.

Bishop Hying’s homily spoke to me in a very particular way last night. These past few months have been a discernment process of sorts trying find out which direction God wants me to take in my life. I’ve spent time discerning a priestly and religious vocation, as well as discerning marriage, but I haven’t seemed to find an answer quite yet. Bishop Hying spoke during his homily that when discerning a vocation, we often get trapped in looking back at the past or looking towards the future, and that can scare us or cause anxiety. Bishop Hying advised instead that we look to our mother Mary as an example of looking to where God is in the present moment, of having a vocation to “the now”. This requires us to ask, “What is God trying to tell me in this moment? How can I do God’s will in the current situation that I am in?” 

We as humans always want to do big things in life especially for God. We often forget that God gives us little challenges to accomplish first before we are even close to being ready for bigger obstacles. We need to ask ourselves how we can live up to the call of a vocation to holiness before anything else. What do we have to lose? We need to focus on having a vocation in the present moment, seeking out God’s will for us in our everyday lives.

"Fertile Ground"- Deacon Dennis Saran Sunday Homily

This past Sunday one of the Archdiocese’s newly ordained transitional deacons, Deacon Dennis Saran, preached at St. Eugene Catholic Church in Fox Point, WI. If you remember Sunday’s Gospel account, you remember that Jesus told a parable about a sower sowing seeds and then relating this story to how people hear the Word of God and build their faith on that. Deacon Dennis’ homily focuses on how we as Catholics, specifically in Milwaukee can work to be “fertile ground” receptive to God’s word, even when we go through hardships.

Deacon Dennis has always seemed to be a calm voice of reason for as long as I have known him and I’m sure that St. Eugene parishioners can attest to that as well.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Franciscan University Stuebenville to Host Encounter Milwaukee Conference


Franciscan University of Steubenville has become renowned for their dynamic youth and adult conferences and now is partnering with Arise Milwaukee to host a Steubenville Young Adult Conference called Encounter Milwaukee at the Archbishop Cousins Center! Arise is very excited about this opportunity to bring young adults from all parts of the region to this event.

 Encounter Milwaukee will be featuring some powerful speakers from their ministry team:

Ennie Hickman, a Catholic missionary, has traveled the United States and abroad for nearly two decades sharing Jesus Christ with all he comes in contact with. As a host of the summer conferences in Steubenville and as a missionary with Adore Ministries, Ennie has helped transform thousands of lives. Currently, Ennie is working to expand his apostolate to the under-served families and young adults in Houston, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Cana, and their six children.

Fr. Luke Strand was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2009. He was born and raised in Dousman, WI and attended the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh before entering St. Francis de Sales Seminary in Milwaukee. After three years of priestly service at Holy Family Parish in Fond du Lac, WI, he now is the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Fr. Luke also serves as the priest chaplain of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Newman Center, the Director of the JPII House of Discernment, the Advisor of College Seminarians, and chaplain of Arise Ministries. Fr. Luke is a regular speaker at youth and young adult events. 

Paul George is a husband, father, and follower of Jesus. A passionate believer and communicator of the Gospel, Paul has traveled the world proclaiming God’s love and freedom as a parish youth minister, diocesan director, author, and full-time evangelist. He holds a master’s degree in theological studies from the University of Dallas. Paul lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he directs the campus ministry program at University of Louisiana/Our Lady of Wisdom Parish and serves as a professor of theology at the Aquinas Institute on campus. Paul also co-founded and directs Adore Ministries, a nonprofit Catholic organization whose mission is to call all people to worship God with their entire lives. He and his wife have four children.

Paul Vogrinc is a worship leader, speaker and performer in the greater Chicagoland area. His debut album, Return to Grace (2008) is a transparent view into Paul’s deep spirituality and his passion for Christ. Return to Grace captures a sound that offers a joyous blend of Coldplay and G.K. Chesterton. Genre-obsessed fans have described Paul's anthemic melodies as "British-Pop meets The Vatican. His passion is pursuing God and his beautiful wife, Janell. He and Janell have two sons, John Paul and Leo Francis. 

Sarah Swafford is the founder of Emotional Virtue Ministries. She speaks nationally to people of all ages on a variety of topics such as emotional virtue, dating and relationships, modesty of intentions, and interior confidence. A graduate of Benedictine College, Sarah has appeared on EWTN’s Life on the Rock and has contributed to the Ascension Press DVD program Chosen: Your Journey Toward Confirmation as well as Augustine Institute’s program YDisciple. She has other videos featured at, and she is also a team member at Sarah currently resides in Atchison, Kansas, with her husband, Dr. Andrew Swafford, and their three young children, Thomas, Fulton, and Cate. 

Pete Burds- Ever since his reconversion to Catholicism through a high school youth ministry program, Pete Burds has used his five loaves and two fish for the sake of building the kingdom. Through storytelling, retreats, and leading worship, he has proclaimed the freedom found in Christ to thousands. He is a graduate of Franciscan University and is the campus minister at Saint Thomas More High School in Milwaukee. He also serves as the director of Evangelization for Arise Milwaukee, a parish mission-based evangelization effort. Pete is a wanna-be philosopher, has a mild obsession with the band Switchfoot, and because of Christ, finds himself living a life greater than he could have dreamed.

The Encounter Milwaukee Conference begins on Saturday November 8th and runs from 10AM to 10PM, with a Sunday Vigil Mass included. Registration opens on July 14th at

To Find out more about Steubenville Conferences visit

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Archdiocese of Milwaukee Sponsors "Theology On Tap" Once Again!

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, along with the John Paul II Center and the Nazareth Proect, is once again sponsoring a summer speaker series for young adults in their 20's and 30's called "Theology on Tap". This series is in place to engage and excite men and women in their Catholic faith. The summer series is held at various locations throughout the Archdiocese during July and early August. Each site holds four weekly sessions featuring different topics and presenters.

One presentation that may be of interest to many is a topic entitled, " Rock-A-Bye Baby: Challenges of Being a Cradle Catholic." and is being presented by Talia Westerby at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Talia Westerby is currently the Director of Visitor Services at the Basilica of St. Josaphat and a board member of Arise Milwaukee. She earned her Bachelor's Degree in Education and Music from Butler University and her Masters in Lay Ministry from Cardinal Stritch University. She loves to play Ultimate Frisbee, where she met her husband, Carl. Although she did not achieve her life-long goal of becoming the first female wide receiver of the Green Bay Packers, she still values the Hail Mary and spends her time trying to fall more passionately in love with Christ everyday. 

Please check out Talia and other great speakers during this fun and inspiring series. Talia's presentation begins on Monday July 14th at 7pm in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist Atrium. Free food and drinks are included with no registration required! Hope to see you there!

For times and locations of other series presentations please go to and

Monday, July 7, 2014

Contemplation On The Lakefront

“In every walk with nature, one receives more than he seeks.”
                 -     John Muir

I find myself this summer drifting toward the various beaches and lakefronts of Milwaukee. There’s a certain feel about Lake Michigan that makes me think about my past.

A big body of water turns into a big body of, “If only”.

“If only I had worked harder in high school.
 If only I hadn’t engaged in past relationships.
 If only I hadn’t been so passive and allowed anything to deter me from my goals.”

I could go on and on as I stand out on the McKinley Marina piers.

The more I dive into my past though, the more I begin to realize that you can’t go on looking back at the decisions that you once made. You have to use your past mistakes as motivation to never make them again. If it’s true past experiences make you wiser, then I guess I feel like one of the greatest minds in the world.

Looking back on the past should make you understand that we really can’t rely on ourselves for anything. As much as we like to think that we have control, we have to understand that God is solely in charge. Past decisions we can never take back, but starting today you give up the future to God. What a relief it will be that God will have your back, if you offer it to him.

No worries.

Let the body of, “If only,” turn into a reminder of the endless opportunities God has in store for you when you leave everything up to him.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A Personal Encounter With The Lord

One of my favorite spots to go for Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is St. John the Evangelist Catholic church in Greenfield, WI. Small, quiet and with minimal lighting, the church is the perfect setting for a personal, daily encounter with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Stop by if your ever in the area of 84th and Cold Spring Road. You surely won't regret it!

Check out the parish website for any additional information at