Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Pilgrimage To Remember

Yesterday my girlfriend Morgan and I joined the rest of my family on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Christ's Passion in St John, Indiana. Rather than take a bus, my family all crammed into one car and drove straight down ourselves. Two and a half hours in a car together doesn't always paint a pretty picture but we were all buzzing with excitement for what the day would hold!

The pilgrimage began with Mass celebrated by Bishop Donald Hying of Gary, Indiana, a close family friend and assisted by Father Anthony Jelenik at St. John the Evangelist. Recently built in 2008, St. John the Evangelist was absolutely gorgeous which may seem strange when we often consider modern churches. Connecting both the old churches of the parish with biblical symbolism, we all felt that this was the perfect worship space for the beginning of our celebration.

                            (The outside of St. John the Evangelist- St John, IN. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                         (Blessed Virgin Mary statue outside of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                             (The interior of St John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          (The Altar of St. John's. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                       ( The presider's chair of St. John's. copyright John Paul Bender)

                         (The tabernacle is two sided. It can be opened from the front and back. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                      (Of course you can't miss a picture with our very much missed bishop: Copyright John Paul Bender)

Eloquently speaking as always, Bishop Hying talked about Pentecost and the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He noted that without the Holy Spirit, the apostles would have stayed in the upper room, Peter probably would have gone back to fishing; the only thing he had ever known, and we would never have existed beyond that point as a universal church.

 Despite all of the fear and negativity in the upper room though, the Holy Spirit breathed in the apostles a renewed love and zeal for the Lord, courage to be able to share all of the teachings of the Messiah, and to make disciples of all nations. It was precisely why pilgrimages are essential to our faith journey. Pilgrimages help us to be reinvigorated in the truth and awe of the Gospel, to be reminded that we can not shy away from evangelizing to others, and to dive deeper into our own individual relationship with Christ.

Right behind the majestic parish is the Shrine of Christ's Passion. The shrine is full of life size stations of the cross set on a vast piece of farm land. Each station was complete with perfectly hand- crafted statues of Christ, Pontius Pilate, the Roman soldiers, Veronica, Mary and Simon of Cyrene with music from local artists and narrations by NBC news anchor Bill Curtis. Fr. Anthony joined our pilgrimage and inspired our group with powerful and emotion-filled reflections. Below are pictures that I took of each station of the shrine and the surrounding scenery.

                                          (Gathered around the table at the Last Supper:Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                     (In the Garden of Gethsemane: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                 (Jesus being judged by Pontius Pilate: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                        (Christ carries His cross: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                                             (Copyright: John Paul Bender)

                                                 (Jesus looks with gratitude upon Simon: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                      (Veronica wiping the face of Jesus: Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                      ( Jesus consoles the women. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                                              (Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          ( Jesus nailed to the cross. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                        ( The Crucifixion of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender ) 

                                             ( Fr. Anthony prostrating in front of Jesus. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                  (Pieta- Christ in His Mother's arms. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                   (Christ being laid into the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                          (Entering the tomb. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                   (Christ appears to Mary Magdalene. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                                     ( Christ ascends to heaven. Copyright John Paul Bender)

After walking through the beautiful grounds of the Shrine of Christ's Passion, we decided to pay a visit to original St. John the Evangelist church in Lake Country. Built in the form of a log cabin, the church was converted into a 24 hour Eucharistic Adoration chapel. Hands down, it was the most beautiful Eucharistic chapel I have ever set foot in.

                                  (St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)

                                 ( St John the Evangelist Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. Copyright John Paul Bender)

After all was said and done I believe this was easily the best pilgrimage I have ever been on! As a family we got to say hello to an old friend in Bishop Donald Hying, we got to attend Mass in a beautiful church at St. John the Evangelist which puts some of our churches in Milwaukee to shame, and we had the opportunity to walk with Jesus Christ as he carried our sins on a cross for us.

I strongly encourage you to attend the Shrine of Christ's Passion, and the city of St. John, Indiana. You will never forget the experience that you will have and you will see God's love for you in a totally different and overwhelming way.

Blessings to you on this Solemnity of Pentecost!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Roses for Our Lady Promoting Historic 2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena

Via Roses for Our Lady-

                                         (Logo distributed for use courtesy of Rosary Evagelization Apostolate)

Roses for Our Lady is partnering with the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate and the Schoenstatt Rosary Campaign to promote the 2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena-please join us in prayer!
Historic 2015 National 54 Day Rosary Novena
August 15 through October 7, 2015
Join hundreds of thousands of people of all ages in prayer across America
Mark your calendars & spread the word
A Message of Hope in response to the spiritual crisis in our culture and nation
What: Pray the rosary for 54 straight days for the Novena Intentions
27 days in petition from August 15 through September 10, 2015
27 days in thanksgiving from September 11 through October 7, 2015
Where: Pray the rosary individually or as a family in your home or as part of your parish community
Primary Novena Intention: “For the Family & Marriage” including for peace, human life and religious freedom
Visit the website for more information
A Hearts United Campaign of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Be Not Afraid; Attending Fr. Mauricio's First Mass

                                            Fr. Mauricio Liturgy of the Eucharist (Photo Credit Susie Rangel)

I was so blessed to be invited to Fr. Mauricio Fernandez-Boscan's First Mass celebrated at St. Bruno's parish in Dousman, Wisconsin today. Fr. Mauricio, one of two men ordained to the Priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Saturday, is a native of Venezuela and was a great friend to me over the years. This day was such a  beautiful culmination of the years of study and formation Fr. Mauricio undertook in the seminary. The fact that Mauricio followed the call of the Lord to Milwaukee to work toward becoming a priest always captivated me. I can't imagine traveling to an entirely different country, having to adjust to customs, languages and cultures, all while continuing to work on deepening your Catholic faith. It is so true that Christ will call you to leave your comfort zone, to abandon what you are familiar with and to trust in His plan for you completely. Fr. Mauricio showed no fear and followed the Lord through it all. Fr. Mauricio showed the same courage and strength that the apostles showed in today's Gospel reading of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord as they left the city of Jerusalem and traveled to the ends of the Earth to bring the Good News.

                                             Fr. Mauricio embracing his mother                                                                                                                                                                         (Photo Credit: Heather Mezydlo)

As Mass concluded today, all of those leaving were all greeted by Mexican music and dancing as Fr. Mauricio greeted parishoners and prayed first blessings upon all of us. At one point, Fr. Mauricio joined hands with others circling around the musicians in a beautiful expression of worship and joy. Fr. Mauricio's joy and his warm smile are infectious and they will serve him well in his priesthood. We as a community need a priest who not only preaches and teaches the faith with reverence, but also with the joy and love that God wants each of us to experience. 

                                                Fr. Mauricio greeting well-wishers after Mass (Photo Credit Susie Rangel)

Fr. Mauricio is well equipped with the tools to be a great shepherd and missionary for the kingdom, courage to follow the Lord and the joy of the Gospel. I am so grateful to know him, to celebrate with him and to continue to pray for him as he begins his priestly ministry. Fr. Mauricio is assigned to St. John Paul II parish on Milwaukee's South Side and be a great sign of Christ's love and fellowship to the growing Hispanic population in the area. Even more great things are in store for Fr. Mauricio and I can't wait to see his story continue. God bless you Fr. Mauricio! Know of all of our prayers for you as you proclaim the Gospel to all the ends of the earth!

                                                Fr. Mauricio processing into church (Photo Credit: Heather Mezydlo)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Two Great Ambitious Men To Be Ordained to the Priesthood in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

                                              (Courtesy of St. Francis de Sales Seminary)

Seminarians are the best friends anyone can ask for! There is something to be said about a young man who wants to dedicate his entire life to God and shepherd His people on their individual journeys to heaven. Men like myself really are inspired by the courage and faith that they display, knowing that following God plan for them was not easy. It takes a real man with huge ambitions and a great desire to do the will of God to become one of His priests. It is because of men like Deacon Dennis, a former Pediatrician and Deacon Mauricio, an aspiring mayor, that more and more young people are discerning a vocation to the priesthood and are filling St. Francis de Sales Seminary to the brim!

I am so honored and glad to know both of the men who are being ordained on Saturday morning at the Cathedral, and to be able to attend one of their first Masses! Not by any means is this the first time I have experienced these beautiful and awe-inspiring events, but each year I attend has me glowing with the fire of the Holy Spirit and hope for the church as we watch God's great work in the young men He has called come to fruition

Please join me in praying for them as they begin their work of bringing all of us into a deeper relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Take a closer look at Deacon Dennis Saran and Deacon Mauricio Fernandez-Boscan, two of Milwaukee's newest members of the priesthood!

Deacon Dennis shares his journey from saving bodies as a pediatrician to saving souls as a priest-

Deacon Mauricio shares his love for justice and fairness as an aspiring mayor and now as a priest-

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Despite Rainy Mother's Day; Roses for Our Lady May Crowning A Success

                                                 (Photo Courtesy of Roses for Our Lady)

The Mother's Day weather sure was disappointing, but the show still went on for Roses for Our Lady as they held Milwaukee's largest May Crowning event indoors at St. Vincent Pallotti church on 54th and Bluemound Rd in Milwaukee. The beautiful ceremony, presided by Fr. Timothy Kitzke, Pastor of Three Holy Women parish and co-presided by Fr. James Kubicki and Fr. Paul Schneider, was attended by 300 people from all over the city. Marian hymns were sung by the Andress Sisters as first communicants knelt and crowned a statue of the Blessed Mother.

                                                   (Photo Courtesy of Roses for Our Lady)

Roses for Our Lady posted pictures, thanked all those who attended the May Crowning and for their support with a message on their Facebook page.

Via Roses for Our Lady:

Thank you to all who attended our May Crowning event yesterday afternoon! Despite rain forcing us to move the ceremony indoors, we had a packed church, beautiful music sung by the Andress Sisters and an overwhelming amount of support!
We are incredibly grateful to all who came out to show their love for the Blessed Mother and to honor her accordingly!
Please do consider attending our monthly holy hours every second Sunday of the month at St. Francis de Sales Seminary to continue our devotion to Mary!
All the information can be found on our website
If you didn't get a chance to donate and would like to, you can make a donation using the PayPal link on our website as well.
God Bless You!

                                                   (Photo Courtesy of Roses for Our Lady)

Roses for Our Lady continues to hold monthly holy hours for vocations at St. Francis de Sales Seminary at 2pm. There next holy hour will be presided by Fr. Matthew Widder, pastor of Holy Name and St. Clement parishes in Sheboygan, WI. 

                                                   (Photo Courtesy of Roses for Our Lady)

For more information about Roses for Our Lady, their events, board members or to make a donation please visit You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Please continue supporting their mission with your prayers.