Memory lane

December 23, 2011, Steven and I visited Father Sheehan for the first time since July 2004, when I’d last spent time with him at Our Lady of Refuge in Roma, TX.

Stranger danger

“Hi, Father Sheehan!  We’ve come to ask if you’d like to join us for lunch,” I chirped excitedly.

SATX-158I wanted to hug him hello, but he was stunned to have two strangers call on him at the Oblate Madonna Residence in San Antonio, TX!  I’d never expected that, since he’s regularly mailed greeting cards to us over the years.

Father quizzically searched our faces, mine especially.  He wanted to smile, but he wasn’t really sure about letting his guard down.

“Should we have called first?” I asked.  “I looked online for your phone number and found only the one for the house here.  I wrote the number on the back of your card, but I didn’t think to call ahead.  I figured we’d just drop by; and then, if we couldn’t have access to you, I’d call.”

Seeing the card in my hands, Father admitted, “I can’t deny it’s my handwriting.  I have to know you, or you wouldn’t have that card; but I don’t know who you are.  What are you doing here?  What do you want?”

“We came to take you to lunch,” I repeated, hopeful that Father would agree to join us.  I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or if he really didn’t remember me.  “We can leave, if you like.  It’s just that I’d written to let you know we’d be in town this weekend, and we were hoping to spend some time with you.  Didn’t you receive my cards?”

Father Sheehan was struggling to remember who I was.

Steven and I were strangers to him, but we couldn’t just leave.  I knew who he was, so I wanted to reassure him.  “It’s okay that you don’t remember me.  I remember you, and that’s good enough!” I said cheerfully.  I wanted him to know that my feelings weren’t hurt, but not until I wrote this post did I realize that he was concerned for himself.  And, really, he had every right to be.

Patiently yet enthusiastically, I shared a lot of memories going back to September 12, 2002, when we first met at Immaculate Conception Cathedral and became fast friends.  Yet Father’s recollections eluded him.

“Who are you?  Why are you here?” Father asked pointedly, almost making my eyes water.

Then, like a frozen moment in time, we looked directly into each others’ eyes and— just like that— Father Sheehan’s memory seemed to thaw.

“I think I vaguely recall,” he declared, sounding less apprehensive and more receptive to our visit.

We both relaxed.

“So does this mean you’ll join us for lunch?” I asked invitingly, fully prepared to show Father a good time no matter what.

Lively visit

With Father in his familiar comfort zone, he once again became the lighthearted person who’d been our beloved family priest back home.  He mischievously joked and teased in his usual happy way.

        

       

               

Even though the weather was bitingly cold, our renewed friendship warmed our spirits.  Father gave us a tour of the grounds and the facility before asking, “Have you seen the chapel?”

Whaatt?!!!  Oh, my gosh!  Oh, my gosh!  Oh, my gosh!” I exclaimed, anticipating a delightful topping on the Dairy Queen strawberry sundaes we’d enjoyed earlier.

Memory lane

For five precious hours, Father Sheehan had gifted us with crescendoing joy.  He’d been silly, entertaining, and informative all at once.  But, ever the masterful storyteller, he’d saved the best for last.

The Oblate Madonna Residence chapel, like Father Sheehan’s recollection that the stained-glass windows were the same ones from when he’d entered the seminary there at age fourteen in 1949, was a huge Secret Santa surprise.  Simply amazing.  Oh-so special.  A wonderful walk down memory lane.

               

               

       

            

               

               

               

Prayers

Novena…  God our Father, we thank you for having called Saint Eugene de Mazenod to follow Christ, the savior and evangelizer.  Through his intercession help us to reach out with the healing touch of Christ, who calls us to holiness and to mission.  May we build communities which are signs of your presence, and share the Good News of salvation with all peoples.  For this we dedicate ourselves, through Christ, our Lord.

Saint Eugene de Mazenod, share with us your love for Christ, help us to stand firm in goodness, and be with us in all our efforts.  Amen.

SA11313-113-oPetition…  St. Eugene, by your example, touch me to see Jesus in others, to help those in need, and to have the courage to do God’s will.  I ask you to intercede on my behalf for a special need…

May God, through your intercession, guide me to accept the difficulties in my life and to work toward a happy and healthy solution.  May I accept God’s will in my life with strength and love.  I ask this through his son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Special favor…  God, our Father, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, you called St. Eugene de Mazenod to gather priests and brothers as Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate to annouce the gospel, especially among the poor and neglected.  May we be inflamed with the zeal for announcing the gospel of Jesus Christ, our savior, and receive through his intercession the special grace we ask for at this time…

St. Eugene de Mazenod, pray for us.

Links of interest…  Brownsville diocese…  Immaculate Conception Cathedral (ICC): diocesan website / national registry / parishes online / photos…  Our Lady of Refuge…  Sacred Heart Church (ICC mission): photos…  St. Eugene de Mazenod: about / biography / book / church (about / dedication / infoMass times) / founder / litanies / novena / prayer / saint / speaks to us (blog)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Building community…  Connected tangents…  Father’s guided tour…  Father now retired…  Gifts…  Heart of hearts…  Holy relics…  Marian devotions…  Promise of hope…  A real church…  Soulful…  Sweet Jesus…  Two angels

Holy relics

On Valentine’s Day 2009, Junebug and Gary (left) and the lovely Ning and Sam joined us for a special dinner.  And, as usual, “the gang”— our family through Why Catholic? at St. Paul’s in Flour Bluff— had a fantabulous time!

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Junebug’s prompting

That evening Junebug excitedly told us about visiting a chapel with the Legion of Mary.  She didn’t recall its name or much else other than having been (and still is) in awe of all the relics there.  “You just have to go see it!  It’s such a special place!” Junebug remarked, adding that she’d never known about relics until then.

“I know just what you mean!” I said.  “I didn’t know anything about relics until I received mine from Father Roderick.  And I treasured them until I gave them away.  Thanks so much for telling me about the chapel!  I’ll have to visit to take photos for my blog.”

Elusive treasure

Junebug’s exuberant insistence that I “visit the chapel out by the Lexington” stayed with me until May of last year.  That’s when, in driving around trying to locate it, I accidentally stumbled across the small, well-kept chapel on the corner of who knows where in the vicinity of the USS Lexington.

Yet, within moments my joy downgraded a couple of degrees.  Our Lady Star by the Sea was locked, and no one was at its adjacent office.

To further dampen my enthusiasm, I’d forgotten my Coolpix; so I had to rely on my antiquated cell phone to photograph the chapel’s exterior.  Not a good idea at all, I found out later, ’cause I couldn’t email the photos to my Yahoo account.

Still, things worked out fine.  I learned the name of the chapel and its location, so the visit wasn’t a total loss.

Now it’s just a matter of attending weekend Mass, Saturday at five-thirty or Sunday at nine, so I can finally see the relics that catapulted Junebug into OMG mode.

Shared keepsakes

StA-relic72210aLike Junebug, I’d never known about holy relics until— surprise, surprise— I received two third-class St. Anthony relics in the mail from Father Roderick, head of Franciscan Mission Associates (FMA) at the time.

A relic is an object or a personal item of religious significance, carefully preserved with an air of veneration as a tangible memorial….  A third-class relic is any object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.  StA-relic72210bMost third-class relics are small pieces of cloth (Wikipedia, 2011).

“Relics refer to the body tissues of saints, items worn or used by them, and things that have come in contact with the originals” (Father James G. Ward, CM in the Association of the Miraculous Medal Bulletin, October 2010, p. 3).

The veneration of relics, most strictly the material remains of a saint or holy person after his death, has a long tradition in the Catholic Church….  St. Thomas Aquinas would explain that the relics “excite to love.”  It is really the saint who is being honored, and the relic assists the giving of that honor through both a visible sign and a physical link with the saint (St. Anthony Shrine, 2009).

I treasured my two St. Anthony relics but eventually gave them away to a couple of acquaintances whose life stories were filled with such despair that I thought the relics would give them hope.

By then Father Robert had become director of FMA, so I wrote him a letter requesting another relic and— wouldn’t you know it— he sent two that I carried with me, knowing I’d give them away as well.

St. Anthony chaplets

August, 2010, I gifted my two relics to Sabrina (left) and Ruth (right) with a note in the St. Anthony booklet that I created specially for them.

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Segy, our youngest, has always said, “The best gifts are those I want so very badly to keep but give away instead.”

In 1998, I wrote to Father Robert at Franciscan Mission Associates.

In 1985, Father Roderick sent me two St. Anthony relics.  But, over the years, as I met others in great need, I gave them away.  And now that I don’t have one, I feel empty.  So may I please have another relic?

And I was surprised, just as I’d been the first time, to receive not one but two.  But, even though I’ve treasured my two relics all this time, I’ve always wondered when the time would come that I’d have to part with them again as before.

Looking through my Companion Prayers booklet on July 22nd, I suddenly took note of the St. Anthony chaplet prayers and the Miraculous Responsory for the first time.  I’d added the latter to my “St. Anthony” post, but it just hadn’t registered till that moment.

I decided to customize a chaplet just right for me and attach not a regular medal, but the St. Anthony relic I’d carried around all these years.

Then I had an epiphany.

Since I had a second relic still in its original little bag I thought, Ruth and Sabrina!  I’ll bead three identical chaplets, place the relics on theirs, and use a different St. Anthony medal on mine.  I’ll write to Father Robert again and request another relic for my chaplet.  Hopefully, he’ll send two.

Sooo…  On Tuesday, July 23rd, I began using the chaplets.  I’ve taken turns with each one so that, when you pray on your own, you’ll know I’m praying with you, too.

Heart’s desire

FMA8410aI have to admit that it was very difficult to part with my last two
St. Anthony relics.  In fact, that’s what kept me from beading the chaplets sooner.  God knew how I felt, though.

Right when I was having serious qualms about giving them away, I received a perfectly timed relic prayer card in the mail from FMA.

In the days that followed I internalized what I’ve experienced before: God always knows and provides just what we need (Matthew 6:8).

Hold your eyes on God and leave the doing to him.  That is all the doing you have to worry about (St. Jane Frances de Chantal).

Holy relics

How amazing that, since finding Our Lady Star by the Sea and gifting my St. Anthony relics, I’ve become aware of other holy relics: St. Elizabeth Seton’s at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Venerable Margaret Parigot’s on Sister’s prayer card from the Flower of Carmel Monastery in Australia, St. Peregrine’s through Father Ralph at Stella Maris in Lamar, and Venerable Julia Navarrete’s through Sister Maxie at the Missionary Daughters’ Solemn Place of Prayer in Kingsville.  Then, as a very special gift from the Anthonians in November, I received a seventy-five minute video commemorating the exhibition of St. Anthony’s remains at the Basilica in Padua, Italy.

So I have to wonder…

Has parting with my treasured St. Anthony relics helped me find more along the way?

            

               

           

May 13, 2011

Joyfully, I received Venerable Father Casey’s relic badge, which I showed Junebug at Michael’s Confirmation.  I’ll be ordering another to surprise her with, as I think it’ll make her day.

       

September 13, 2011

Wow!  How amazing is it to find right here on my computer desk exactly what I’ve wanted for months?  To think that I’ve had St. Jude’s relic for a very long time and didn’t even know it till this morning.

Will wonders never cease!

October 4, 2011

I just received a letter from Franciscan Mission Associates in time for All Souls Day.  Father Primo has replaced Father Robert, who served for the past fifteen years.  I guess it’s time to write that letter I’ve been putting off and wish Father Robert well on the next chapter in his book of life.

       

If you’d like to request a St. Anthony relic, contact Franciscan Mission Associates at P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

January 21, 2012

Steven and I drove to Stella Maris for the second time, and we arrived early enough to converse with Father Ralph before evening Mass.  I asked if he had his St. Peregrine first-class relic, and he did!  What a thrilling experience to hold it and pray for his intercession.

               

January 22, 2012

I went by Mary Ellen’s house to drop off both her St. Anthony relic chaplet and her Child Jesus chaplet, and she showed me the third-class relic she has of the nun who founded the Incarnate Word Order.  I didn’t have my camera with me, so I’ll take a photo another time.

April 8, 2012

I finally got the chance to take the photos of Mary Ellen’s third-class relic of Venerable Jeanne Chézard de Matel (1596-1670), foundress of the Incarnate Word (IWBS) Order.

Oh, happy day!

     

April 29, 2012

“Be careful what you wish for” certainly comes to mind, only in a good way this time.

On revisiting the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Thaddeus at St. Pius V in Chicago, I discovered a treasure overlooked in the past.  St. Jude’s first-class relic!  His arm!

               

July 2, 2012

What unexpected surprises!  St. Teresa of Avila relics from Sister in Australia!

               

September 29, 2012

From Sister, timely St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus treasures received for October 1st!

               

January 13, 2013

Steven and I visited the Tepeyac Shrine in San Antonio for the second time and discovered that the Grotto Sanctuary has a first-class relic: Part of St. Eugene de Mazenod’s heart!

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February 10, 2013

??????????This morning Steven fell out as a Knight of Columbus participating in the veneration of José Sánchez del Río’s first-class relic at Immaculate Conception Church in Taft, TX.  Ten o’clock Mass was followed, first, by a procession around the neighborhood and then by visits to the front of the altar to spend one-on-one time in prayer with the relic.

Worth noting is that Joselito died eighty-five years ago today.

June 14-16, 2013

When Steven learned that Father Mario from the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, Italy would be in Rockford, IL, he quickly made plans for us to attend Mass and the veneration of St. Anthony’s first-class relics at St. Anthony of Padua Church.  And we had a phenomenal time!

Father Mario captivated all of us with wonderful stories about St. Anthony and gifted many present with relics touched to St. Anthony’s tongue.  In the photo on the left, the reliquary in the forefront holds tissue from inside St. Anthony’s cheek; the one on the altar, part of his floating rib.

Before Father Mario retired for the evening, he did something totally unexpected: He blessed Steven and me with the small reliquary!

We were so taken with Father Mario that I wanted to bring him home with us, but he has places to go and people to see.  Building community within God’s kingdom is what traveling with St. Anthony is all about, so they’re off to Great Britain next.

SAP61413s-56        StA73113b        StA73113a

The following morning, despite the pounding rain and the heavy traffic, we made our way back to Chicago where we not only spent time at the Dominican Shrine of St. Jude at St. Pius V (like last year), but also visited the Claretian National Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

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Then we drove to Detroit where we attended nine o’clock Mass at St. Bonaventure Church on Sunday and delighted in the Solanus Casey Center the entire day.

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What an extraordinary experience!

July 1, 2013

Oh, happy day!  St. Pio’s relic!  Thank you, Sister dearest!

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November 21, 2013

Surprise, surprise!  In today’s mail, I received a treasure trove from our niece.

Found this [tiny, old envelope].  Thought of you.  Not sure what it is, but you will know.  Love you.  Sue

Um, yes!  Not one, but two relic badges of then Servant of God, now Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos who needs only one more step to reach sainthood.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.  However, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In September of that year, exhausted from visiting and caring for victims of yellow fever, he contracted the disease.  After several weeks, he died on October 4, 1867, at the age of forty-eight years and nine months (Wikipedia, 2013).

FXS112113-2a        FXS112113-2b

March 28, 2014

Hip hip hooray!  An unexpected St. Anthony relic from the Anthonians!

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April 18, 2014

Thanks to Diana at Franciscan Mission Associates for expeditiously sending me not just the lovely relic for Sid’s St. Anthony chaplet, but also the prayer card!  Sidney Davis, whom we met at the Solanus Casey Center last week, loved his priceless treasures!

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May 24, 2014

Thanks to Father Thomas Franks, OFM-Cap for St. Pio’s precious relic!  The Shrine of St. Pio of Pietrelcina is located at the Church of St. John the Baptist in New York City.  (The address is on “Credits” page.) 

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October 11, 2014

Thanks again, Father Tom, for the wonderful relic cards from St. Pio’s shrine!

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November 9, 2015

“For even now miracles are wrought in the name of Christ, whether by his sacraments or by the prayers or relics of his saints” (St. Augustine).

Links of interest…  Legion of Mary…  Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish: diocese page / parishes online…  Relics: about (chapelmore) / altar of (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton) / badge (Venerable Solanus Casey) / feast (more) / first-class / four categories / holy / incorruptibles (how can a corpse be incorruptible – saints) / more than I thought I’d ever know (blog post) / of the past & the present / priest martyrs of Mexico / process of beatification & canonization / remains / sacred artifacts / saints / what is…  St. Anthony: basilica (virtual tour) / bones a guide to the living / relics (on display in Padua)…  St. Paul the Apostle Church: facebook / website…  Why Catholic

WP posts…  St. Anthony of Padua: Saint of miracles / Si quaeris miracula…  St. Eugene de Mazenod: Heart of hearts / Memory lane…  St. Elizabeth Seton: Right at home…  St. José Sánchez del Río: Honoring Joselito…  St. Jude: Forever grateful / October novenaSt. Anthony Claret / St. Jude novena…  St. Peregrine: Healing service / Memorable as ever / Powerful intercessor / Prayers and blessings / Saintly connections / Stella Maris / St. Peregrine relic…  St. Teresa of Avila: Gift of love / Seven dwelling places…  St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus: Budding relationships…  Venerable Father Casey: Capuchin church stations / God’s master plan / Mercy and justice / Solano, Solanus, Solani / St. Bonaventure Church…  Today’s Beatitudes…  Venerable Julia Navarrete (of the thorns of the Sacred Heart)…  Venerable Margaret (of the Blessed Sacrament)