Building community

When I joined Steven for UTMSI’s annual family Thanksgiving luncheon last fall, we sat with a delightful group of women.

I hadn’t met most of the ladies face to face, but I knew who they were from the glowing comments I’d received about them from both Pat, their supervisor, and Steven.

Among them was Mary, a sweetheart with joyful eyes who, through Pat, had sent me a Divine Mercy photograph that her husband had received at the installation of Bishop Mulvey at the Corpus Christi Cathedral, March 25, 2010.

“Mary, I’m so happy to meet you!  Thanks again so much for the photo.  It’s posted on our church blog as a widget, so it links to the Divine Mercy song on YouTube when you click on it.”

Shared thoughts

That opener led to more conversation on prayer related topics.

“Have you heard of My Father’s House?” Mary asked smilingly.

“No,” I said somewhat perplexed as my mind scrambled for ways to ask what she meant.  “Is that the church you attend?”

Mary told me about her visit to the place in Corpus, but I could barely hear her since the lunchroom had filled and everyone was talking.

I was intrigued.

“I want to give you a book on St. Anne that I received there,” Mary continued, knowing she had to finish eating so that she could get back to work.  “I’ll give Steve the book and a couple of papers from My Father’s House tomorrow.  This way you can look into it online and maybe visit one day soon.”

Sure enough, Steven brought me the literature the following day after work; so I sent Mary a thank you.

Of course, working at the computer every day makes online searches most convenient; and Mary’s place interested me, so I checked into it right away and found something that truly piqued my interest.

Charismatic Mass

Although my most favorite church is the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, I’ve had an extra special place in my heart for mom’s church, Christ the King, not because I belonged to the parish practically from birth, but because I discovered the joy of attending charismatic Mass there after teaching an eighth grade CCE class Tuesday evenings.

The best part was that my three catechist friends also attended, which was comforting ’cause I didn’t know anyone else there; and both the Mass and the long service afterwards were in Spanish.

What a heavenly delight to experience the fervor of faith with Lupita, Sally, Gracie, and all those believers!

I may not have been much into the singing or the body posturing— arms raised, eyes closed, clapping, swaying to the music— but I was certainly moved through association.

A couple of times I’d also tried the Wednesday evening service at St. Luke’s, but the community’s spirit had been so lacking that I only attended Christ the King’s after that.

Mind you, one doesn’t have to attend weekly or even regularly to become familiar with the power of united prayer at those gatherings, just as one doesn’t have to be absolutely sold on the idea of charismatic Mass.  One only needs to be predisposed to miracles.

Soulful experience

After the CCE school year ended, I attended charismatic services off and on.  Then, little by little, the girls and I got busy with our separate lives; and that was that.

Still, to have been part of the Tuesday night charismatic services was to have known not only the power of prayer, but also the gratitude expressed through the thanksgiving and praise that flowed freely among everyone present.

And I never forgot.

I mean, how can one not be touched by the suffering and pain that others feel?  How can one not be moved by others’ tears?  How can one not share in someone else’s joy?

The sights, the sounds, the faces, the stories, the community building, the rock solid faith of the folks at those charismatic services left no doubt that the spirit truly moves at Christ the King.

Personal anecdote

Then came November 1995.  I’d struggled with serious back problems for eight weeks and had been laid up for six of them.  I wanted to be up and about.  I wanted to be back at work.  And then, out of the blue, I remembered.

It was Tuesday!

Barely able to move out of bed, I told my parents, “Take me to charismatic Mass at Christ the King.”

They looked at each other in disbelief.  “But how?  You can’t even walk!”

“Just take me.  You don’t have to stay.  Just drop me off at the front door.  I’ll be all right.”

I struggled to get out of the vehicle alone, but I was determined to enter church on my own.  As I set foot on the entryway, I heard my voice deep within myself: I want to be able to run again!  Butmy head was more realistic: What?  Run?  Silly rabbit!  You can’t even walk!

Unfettered, I made my way to the fifth pew on the right where I’d sat with the girls so many times before.  I didn’t know anyone there, but I soon lost myself totally in the service.

After Mass as usual, individuals, sometimes accompanied by family members, got up to share their stories prior to the healing service.

If they can do it, so can I.  I know I’m not healed yet, but I want to give thanks and praise for being here.  I want to share my story so that God knows I believe.

Somehow, with those around me extending their hands and arms to keep me from falling, I made it to the front of the church.

In my funny Spanish, I expressed my gratitude to those present whose faith was so great and so inspirational that I’d had to be there that evening.  I don’t know how I did it ’cause I was fighting against the tearful emotions that wouldn’t be contained, but the faces looking back at me clearly understood.  And empathized.

They applauded as I made my way back to the pew.

Then, when the service was over, I held onto each pew I passed so as not to tumble down the middle aisle.

Reaching the door through which I’d initially entered, I could see the red lights on the back of my stepfather’s van.  He was stopped more than twenty yards in the distance.

Vehicles were backing out and exiting the parking lot; and the rain was intensifying as big, cold drops landed everywhere with wild abandon.  My stepfather’s van wasn’t turning back to get me, so I had to act quickly.

More concerned about getting drenched than about falling, I covered the top of my head with my left hand as my right arm instinctively swung back and forth.  And I ran for the van as if my life depended on it.

Without even thinking. 

Wow!  I still get emotional just remembering. 

My Father’s House*

As I checked the website Mary had referred to during lunch, I determined that Tuesday evening’s Mass and healing prayer is a charismatic service, one I’d most definitely like to attend.

Maybe I can talk Junebug into joining me, so I can compare it to those at Christ the King.

Funny isn’t it, how God answers prayers in perfect time ’cause I’d been talking to the gang at St. Paul’s about charismatic Mass.

Sacred Heart

Finally, two weekends ago Steven and I headed down to Brownsville early enough for us to reach Sacred Heart in time for its only weekend Mass at eleven-thirty Sunday morning.

I wanted Steven to experience the church firsthand, the way Segy and I had.

I readily recognized three of the regulars from more than twelve years ago, but I wondered where the others were.  Many of them had been part of Sacred Heart for a very long time, and they’d had lots of interesting stories to share.  How I longed to visit with them again!

My mind wandered as I smilingly looked around.  I was enjoying every moment of my recollections when I suddenly came to.

Oh, my gosh!  I can take the photo of St. Anne that I’ve waited for all these months, the perfect complement to the book Mary gave me last fall.


St. Anne

Patroness of Christian mothers, the childless, widows, and laborers, St. Anne is also the comfortress of the sorrowing, mother of the poor, health of the sick, help of the pregnant, and model of married women and mothers.

Tuesday is St. Anne’s special day, since that’s when she died.  “It will give her great joy if we give alms in her honor on Tuesdays” (Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration, 1958; TAN Books and Publishers, 1998, p. 41).

One may also pray the Hail Mary nine times in honor of the nine months during which she bore the Immaculate Virgin Mary in her womb.  Clients of St. Anne should devoutly celebrate her feast day, July 26, and prepare for it by a novena (a prayer said for nine days).  Lastly, we should try to spread devotion to good St. Anne, which can be done effectively by circulating [her prayers and devotions].


Christ the King…  Christ Jesus, I acknowledge you king of the universe.  All that has been created has been made for you.  Make full use of your rights over me.

I renew the promises I made in Baptism when I renounced Satan and all his pomps and works.  I promise to live a good Christian life and to do all in my power to procure the triumph of the rights of God and your church.

Divine heart of Jesus, I offer you my efforts in order to obtain that all hearts may acknowledge your sacred royalty [so that] the kingdom of your peace may be established throughout the universe.  Amen (From A treasury of prayers, The Leaflet Missal Company, n. d., p. 9).

Memorare to St. Anne…  Remember, O holy mother St. Anne, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, and sought your intercession was left unaided.  You are a most merciful mother and aid all who are in distress.

Inspired with this confidence, I take refuge with you and implore you by your great advantage of being the mother of the Queen of Heaven and grandmother of the Savior of the world.

Come to my aid with your powerful intercession.  Obtain from your immaculate daughter this favor….

In honor of the nine months during which you bore the ever blessed virgin in your womb and brought her forth without stain of original sin, I now pray nine Hail Mary‘s, which I offer you through my guardian angel.  Amen.


DSIP-StAnne-a      DSIP-StAnne-b      DSIP-StAnne-c      DSIP-StAnne-d

Contact information

St. Anne prayer leaflets are from Franciscan Mission Associates, P. O. Box 598,
Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598 and from the Dominican Shrine of the Infant of Prague,
5 Hillhouse Avenue, New Haven, 06511-6815, respectively.

*August 15, 2013

This morning St. Anne beckoned.  How or why I ended up on this post I’m not sure, but I found broken links that I just now replaced.  What’s more is that I found some really interesting tidbits in my online searches.

The man who began the charismatic movement at My Father’s House died in 2009, so the worship services stopped and the worship center closed.

Since the property had initially been blessed by Bishop Carmody, the family tried to donate it to the Corpus Christi diocese.  However, Bishop Mulvey declined the offer due to the diocese’s limited resources.  Instead, “the shrine of Nuestra Señora de San Juan de los Lagos [was] relocated… to a former mission,” Mary Mother of the Church, that is located at 1755 Frio Street (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, July 21, 2010).

June 16, 2014

As we come to a greater knowledge of God and of self, we will grasp the meaning and purpose of our spiritual journey to become ambassadors of Jesus, carrying His message of love to all peoples.

Free me, O God, of all that prevents me from being a messenger of your love. Let me be a pencil in Your hand giving expression to your compassion and mercy (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB).

April 3, 2015

“In an absolutely delicious bit of irony, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, places over the cross, the declaration, in the three major languages of the time, that Jesus is the King, effectively de-throning Caesar and becoming, despite himself, the first great evangelist” (Fr. Robert Barron).

June 29, 2015

“Truly, matters in the world are in a bad state; but, if you and I begin in earnest to reform ourselves, a really good beginning will have been made” (St. Peter of Alcántara).

August 17, 2015

“Thanks to the charismatic movement, a multitude of Christians, men and women, young people and adults have rediscovered Pentecost as a living reality in their daily lives” (St. John Paul II).

July 26, 2016

Anne is the glorious tree from which bloomed a twig under divine influence.  She is the sublime heaven from whose heights the Star of the Sea neared its rising.  She is the blessed barren woman, happy mother among mothers, from whose pure womb came forth the shining temple of God, the sanctuary of the Holy [Spirit], the Mother of God! (St. Jerome).

January 15, 2017

“Every Christian is challenged, here and now, to be actively engaged in evangelization; indeed, anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love does not need much time or lengthy training to go out and proclaim that love” (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium;
also Meeting God in the Upper Room).

Links of interest…  Angels: all about / guardian / magnificent servants of God / stories…  Archangels: about / feast / Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael / rosary / verses…  Bebop Catholicism & the charismatic renewal. (about)..  Brownsville churches: Christ the King / Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC) / Sacred Heart (ICC mission) / St. Luke…  Cause of Jesus matters (audio)…  Charismatic Mass…  Christ the King…  Christianity is not for soloists…  Community doesn’t look the same for everyone / gift of witness / having the right intention…  Corpus Christi diocese: Bishop Michael Mulvey / cathedral / My Father’s House (mission)…  Cultivating community all year long…  Divine Mercy: video / website…  Lessons from a monastery: Building a Christian community…  Pray more novenas…  Sisters of St. Benedict (IN): Monday messages / prayer requests / storiesvirtual tour / ways of prayingwebsite…  St. Anne: about / devotion / grace / life / novena / patroness of Detroit / prayer (more) / shrine with a relic (more)…  Sts. Anne & Joaquim: grandparents of Jesus / July 26 / Mary’s parents / memorial / more…  Ten things Pope Francis wants you to know about evangelization…  Who are you…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels all around…  Angels keeping watch…  Connected tangents…  Easter surprises…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Heart’s desire…  Noon visit…  Our Lady’s church…  Prayer and praise…  Soulful…  Two angels

Marian devotions

SJC122610-53Last week Steven surprised me with two prayer cards from the Lovely Ning that Sam had dropped off at the office so, of course, I emailed an exuberant thanks that evening.

Covenant day*

Ning emailed the following day to say that she and her friends had visited the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport.

Just in case you’ve never been there, I do suggest that you and Steve go there.  It’s a miraculous place from what I’ve heard, and it’s true coz I got my miracle when I went there the first time with Sam.  They celebrate a covenant day every 18th of the month.


I’ve known about the Virgin of Schoenstatt ever since mom first told me about the Sisters and the shrine.  I have no idea when or how she and my stepfather first learned about the place, but they often stopped to visit and bought prayer booklets for family and friends back home in the Valley.

Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s, mom lit the fire under the other altar society ladies at Christ the King Church when she offered to drive the group to the shrine.  The ladies enjoyed themselves so much that they made the trek a regular outing.  To hear mom tell the story, the ladies couldn’t stop talking about the beautiful little shrine.  It was such a big deal that a photo of the Virgin of Schoenstatt continues to be displayed in the church foyer despite changes in the building over time.

Mom was very devoted to the Virgin of Schoenstatt, but I just couldn’t relate.  Although I carried the prayer booklet with me and read the literature daily for a long time, the devotion wasn’t for me.  Still, mom insisted that she’d take me to “the little church” one day even if I didn’t want to go!

Two promises, two visits

In the fall 1995, I’d been laid up in bed for six to eight weeks so, of course, mom promised that, as soon as I got better, she and my stepfather would take me to see the Virgin of Schoenstatt.

But why did I have to go when I hadn’t promised anything?

Never mind that I endured serious bouts of carsickness.  Mom got her wish anyway— not that she needed an excuse to visit the shrine— and she was quite pleased with herself for having fulfilled the promise.

Then, in the spring 2004, when I was having major cows with the second semester of research ’cause I was working at school way, way, way too much to have time to focus clearly on the semester project, one of my cohort buddies who also felt challenged beyond the breaking point promised the same thing.

“If we make it through Dr. Weber’s course this semester, I’m taking you to the Schoenstatt shrine in Rockport,” Becky insisted.

“But why do I have to go with you?” I asked.  “I didn’t make the promise.”

Yet, there we were— Becky, her daughter, and me with my carsickness— on our way to Rockport; and Becky didn’t even know where the shrine was!

Oh, my gosh.  The torture of it all.  But we found the place, finally, and that was that.

Familiar yet out of sight

Aside from the framed picture of the Virgin of Schoenstatt at mom’s church, I hadn’t seen one displayed elsewhere.  Then one morning after Mass at our old St. Joseph Church, I happened to notice the picture (shown here) hung on the back wall in the musicians’ nook.

After our new church was dedicated I saw the picture propped up against a wall in the foyer, as if waiting to be hung, but it isn’t in the public eye anymore.

Maybe the devotion wasn’t popular to begin with?

Still, it’s not uncommon to showcase pictures and/or statues of saints that don’t have an active following within the parish.

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Marian devotions

In retrospect, I’ve sampled the Schoenstatt experience through mom, Becky, and now Ning; and I still have my prayer booklet even though I haven’t read it in many years.

I think that each person’s devotion to Our Lady is as uniquely different as each person’s relationship with her.  For this reason, it’s only natural to embrace the devotions to the Blessed Mother as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and/or however one’s come to know her best.

For instance, my first recollections of Our Lady stem from when I was just a child of four or five.

Sitting next to mom at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Brownsville, I noticed the very beautiful lady up high for the very first time and started singing about a little red rooster.  Mom pinched me hard on the arm— “Ssssh!!!”— so I sat there quietly gazing at the lady in green until mom finished praying.

Of course, I was also taken with Mary in blue at the Catholic school across the street from the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.  She was the first person I saw every morning (as I entered the building to walk to my first-grade classroom and then as I opened the side door to church for daily Mass) so blue comes to mind when I string my Franciscan Crowns with Mary’s miraculous medals, even though green is my favorite color.

Looking back, my relationship with Our Lady was influenced not by words and deeds, but by place.  There’s something so very special about walking into Our Lady of Guadalupe Church and sensing a strong familial bond.  (Mom, dad, and I attended Mass there.)  Similarly, I feel very much at home at Immaculate Conception.  Yet the cathedral— my “heart of hearts,” my favorite sacred space— is a far greater spiritual connection to the Blessed Mother: I became part of that church community on my own through my Catholic school experience.

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Evolving spirituality

Sorting through my stash of prayer cards and more in my Christmas box yesterday I realized something.

Over the years I’ve collected so many keepsakes that, unless I explore my treasure box from time to time, I forget what I have.  Yet my spirituality continues to evolve nonetheless as I work, read, pray, and go through the day dialoguing with God.

So, I think that devotional practices can be powerful tools that help us become proactively engaged, just as Ning’s thoughtful gift was a personal invitation to share the Schoenstatt experience with others.


Sub tuum praesidium…  We fly to your protection, O holy Mother of God.  Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.


Contact information…  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary – 130 Front Street Rockport, TX 78382-7800: calendar of events / contact & directions / home page

*Covenant day celebration…  10 A.M. Adoration (shrine) / 10:30 A.M. Mass / 11:30 A.M. sack lunch / 1 P.M. Benediction (shrine)

General events…  Daily Masses at the Provincial House: Monday – Saturday, 6:45 A.M. & Sunday, 10 A.M

August 2, 2011

You can make a difference.  You can tell people about the love of God.  You can even help some of them to become fishers of men, spreading the net of Christianity even farther.  There are opportunities everywhere….  All you have to do is tell your story; the Holy Spirit will give you the right words (the Word among us, July/August 2011, p. 49).

July 3, 2013

Lord Jesus, I treasure the faith you have placed in my heart.  Though I don’t see you, still, I believe.  Help me to tell everyone around me that you are alive.  Use my words and my witness to speak to their hearts, just as you have spoken to mine (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 22).

July 30, 2013

Thank you, Lord, for loving me!  Help me to extend your love to everyone I meet.  Today, please send me to at least one person who needs you in their life (the Word among us, July/August 2013, p. 49).

September 13, 2013

Lord, I am amazed that you have called me to share your good news.  By your spirit, fill me with confidence and courage to be your ambassador (the Word among us, September 2013, p. 32).

November 30, 2015

“But the word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart for you to observe” (Deuteronomy 30:14).

April 4, 2017

Speaking about God and bringing the message of God’s love and salvation in Jesus Christ to men is the duty of all the baptized.  And this duty involves not only speaking with words, but in all one’s actions and way of doing things.  Our whole being should speak of God, even in the ordinary things.  In this way witness is authentic, and thus shall it always be new and fresh in the power of the Holy Spirit (Pope Francis in The Spirit of Saint Francis).


Schoenstatt Chapel – Lamar, TX

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Adoration Chapel – Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church – Corpus Christi, TX


Links of interest…  Apostolic movement…  Blessed Virgin Mary, untier of knots…  Catholic devotions: A spiritual vocabulary…  Christ the King Church: facebook / Mass times…  Father Joseph Kentenich…  Fifteen steps to better evangelization…  Five signs of a true devotion to Mary…  Fr. Joseph Kentenich: founder of the Schoenstatt Movement & friend of the rosary…  Good habits…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral: diocesan website / parishes online…  Marian devotions (fivehope) / finding true selfmoms share…  Our Lady of Guadalupe Church…  Pope Francis: Evangelization is about knowing the human heart…  Schoenstatt shrine: founder / jubilee / movement / news / novena (Spanish) / photos / prayers / rosary campaignshrine (Rockport) …  Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary…  Sub tuum praesidium: ancient prayer to Mary in times of persecution / oldest known Marian prayer is from Egypt…  Understanding what it means to be devout…  Why Mary always wears blue…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Christ’s sacred heart…  Faces of Mary…  Faith and prayer…  Familiar yet new…  Guadalupe Church…  Heart of hearts…  Lady of sorrows…  Lourdes novenas…  Mary’s miraculous medal…  Mary’s seven joys…  May flowers…  My Franciscan Crown…  Our Lady…  Our Lady’s Church…  Repeated prayers…  Seven dwelling places…  Soulful