This will be the final journal entry about my experience at the FOCUS Conference. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I have had writing them, again. Having written them once in my journal while there, and having reread and rewritten them here for you, it has been a blessing for my life, for I have had the chance to relive Conference each day now. Thank you and may God deeply bless you and yours in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
24 January 2011
I thank you for this day. I am now back at school in Mt. Vernon. Thank you for getting me home safely. I also thank you for getting mom and grandma to the train station safely.
I cannot thank you enough for the experience of the conference. I was deeply moved, inspired, blessed, and my soul now has an unquenchable thirst to serve you and your church. Nothing in this world has the power to satisfy that thirst- you and you alone can quench that thirst and longing.
I am now on fire for you Lord Jesus Christ! I have never seen so many young people who were Catholic with such an evangelistic zeal to save all of humanity through the Savior of all- you Lord Jesus Christ.
As a result of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students Conference I now know what it means to be Catholic. It means to be a child of God, who is called to live out their faith passionately in the Church as a community of believers, and also to live out their faith in all public and private areas of their life. It means to live everyday passionately for Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I now understand the beauty and power of the Holy Eucharist. I now truly believe that it is truly Jesus Christ- body and blood, soul and divinity. I long like never before to receive you in the Holy Eucharist Lord. My life has been deeply transformed as a result of FOCUS. For that I thank you greatly God. I long to serve you God and your church all the days of my life. Might you use me to transform the world one soul at a time, one life at a time. Here I am Lord. Your servant is ready and he is listening. I am ready to become a knight of your Holy and perfect Kingdom. I love you above all else. Use me how you will. Not my will but yours. Do what you will with my life. Let your will be done.
Lord, I can easily say I just finished the best weekend of my life at this conference. It was truly life changing. There were 1300 Catholic college students there as well as Priest's, Nuns, and Monks. I am sad because I know what I am leaving behind, but I am extremely excited to live out the challenge from conference, which is to answer your call Lord. I long to answer your call all the days of my life. Give me strength to say yes to your call upon my life- whatever that may be. Give me the courage to take the next step and to go where you will send me- wherever that is. Give me the endurance to live out this call every day of my life. Give me the passion to live out this call in such a way that lives might be transformed for you.
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
23 January 2011
I'm sad. So much in fact, I'm almost to the point of tears.
The reason? I just got done looking at my pictures from conference on my camera. One picture in particular impacted me more than the rest. It was the picture of myself with Brother Innocence, Sister Monica, Brother Angelus, Sister Chiara, and Brother Xavier. As I look into our smiling faces, my heart aches to be back with them. I suppose it is these who impacted me the most and at the deepest level from conference, aside from Joe. I had dinner with the Sisters the very first night, along with Father Luke- Vocations Director of the Archdiocese of New York. Then at the first Keynote address and for Audrey Assad I had the honor of sitting with Brother Innocence, Brother Angelus, and Brother Xavier. They were so much fun Lord, and I guess I didn't expect that. They were cracking jokes and laughing, they were young as well, and very engaging.
Then at the Saturday night keynote address I sat with Sister Monica and Sister Chiara. After the address we had Adoration. Lord, nothing in my life up to this point quite compares to kneeling before you in prayer and adoration with these two Sisters.
I also think of talking with Father Isaac of their Order who graduated from Franciscan University. He seemed to love his life and he too had so much joy Lord!
Before I left for the train station I had a chance to say goodbye to Father Isaac, he shook my hand and said "I will be praying for you as you approach Easter Vigil Bob." I know he will- I saw it in his eyes.
I also got to say goodbye to Brother Xavier. He was carrying the chalice's from Mass, and when he saw me he took the time to set them down and give me a hug. Lord- that hug was the first real hug in a very, very long time- other than from my family.
Before we parted ways he said "I will be praying for you Bob as we approach Easter Vigil. I'm so happy and blessed to have met you and heard your story. The Church will be deeply blessed to have you part of it."
What he said humbled me so God! I thank you greatly for these new friends and companions along the way. Your blessings never end. For that I greatly thank you!
All those I mentioned here, with the exception of Father Luke Sweeney, belong to either The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal or the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal. They impressed me and inspired me Lord. They all have such joy and excitement and love for you, the Church, and the life you gave them. I want to learn more about them Lord. Something about their way of life attracts me. Something about their spirituality and commitment to you and your will intrigues me and I have almost a longing to be with them. Thank you for the rich blessings of these people, these wonderful children who are yours. Thank you. I love you.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
This is the second half of my journal entry #7.
The second keynote address of the day followed that, and Chris Stefanick spoke. He is absolutely hilarious! He is the Director of Youth, Young Adult, and Campus Ministry for the Archdiocese of Denver. I thank you for his enthusiasm and excitement Lord!
To close out the night we had Adoration before you in the Blessed Sacrament. I have never before been so deeply moved as in that moment. Some 1,300 college students kneeling before you Lord Jesus and talking and listening to you! As I rose to leave- you penetrated my soul to the core. You embraced me and you spoke to my heart- You asked me as I stood:
"Can you not sit one hour with me?"
At that moment I fell to my knees in awe and surrender and responded to you-
"You've always been there for me God."
Then you spoke to my heart such truth-
"Then why can't you always be there for me? I desire you to give up your life, your plans for the life that I can give you and for the plans I had for you since before you were created."
My heart was broken, but in a sweet and loving way. I'm sorry that I have not always been there for you Lord. I hope to be available for you and your will all the days of my life.
As I exited the conference room being rejuvenated by being in your presence I saw the line for confession. I was nearly brought to tears! The line was endless. There were at least 700 college students in line to confess and resolve absolution and forgiveness from you through your Priest's.
I then went and had a snack at the Bistro 300 while talking with Ashley Fox- who is the community chair for the graduate community at Franciscan University in Steubenville. I thank you for this rewarding experience as well. A little while later I heard it- the bell. The Eucharistic Procession had begun. Immediately all those who were there from the conference knelt out of reverence and love for you. As I sit on the train now, the lady in front of me- the ringtone for her text message is a small bell. Each time it goes off I look up longing to see you and kneel before you in awe, adoration, sacrifice, and love!
When I got to the room last night, Joe and I talked for at least two hours about the Church, Adoration, Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and most importantly, the Priesthood. I am very thankful for my new friend Joe. You truly blessed my life through him and I hope our friendship continues and grows for years to come!
That brings me to today Lord, and it has been a bittersweet day.
We started out with a Keynote Address by Founder of FOCUS, Curtis Martin. A truly powerful message Lord!
He talked about answering your call and how best to do that:
-To know and love you deeply
-To know your plan for my life
-To live out that plan as passionately as I can
He also talked about the Monstrance, which means 'To Show.' He said:
"A Monstrance has a hole in it for Jesus Christ to be in. When we were created, we were created with a hole inside of us that only Jesus Christ can live in, making Him the center of our life. Therefore, we are all living Monstrance's to show Christ to the world and to share Christ with the world."
This statement impacted me in such a deeply profound way Lord! Thank you.
He also told us to not let this conference experience become a pep-rally with no game, but to instead answer your call and to live out our faith passionately with every ember of our being. He also said that when we receive you in the Eucharist, we receive infinite grace, and that when we walk back from receiveing, we should be transformed.
This was followed by our final Mass together, and it was, as always deeply moving.
I will be completely honest when I say it was bittersweet. I made many new friends-
-Joe Camilo, Matt Gill, Father Luke Sweeney, Father Isaac (Franciscan Friar of the Renewal-CFR, and graduate of Franciscan University), Brother Xavier (CFR), Brother Innocence (CFR), Brother Angelus (CFR), Sister Chiara (Franciscan Sister of the Renewal-CFR), Sister Monica (CFR), Ashley Fox (Community Chair for Franciscan University Graduate Community), and Lauren Fox (FOCUS Missionary at George Washington University)
I pray deep blessings over all these people Lord, and I cannot thank you enough for the deep blessings of this experience. You are amazing and I love you.
In closing Lord- here is my prayer:
"Here I am Lord, your servant is listening. I am ready to go where you will send me. I am ready to do what you will have me do. I am ready to become a Knight in your Kingdom. Amen."
This journal entry will be in two parts (one today, the other tomorrow) due to its length.
23 January 2011
As I begin this note to you, I am in a train on my way back home. Outside the window The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Mother Church of our great nation, passes by.
As I look back on yesterday I cannot begin to thank you enough for the blessings of that day.
To start things off, we had a keynote talk by Jeremy Rivera. Yet again, a fairly young person filled with your spirit and is actively and passionately living out his life for you and you alone.
Following that we were blessed to partake in the sacrifice of the Holy Mass. When they brought the Tabernacle in, everyone knelt in reverent silence out of love for you Lord. Never have I been with so many college students (1,300) who were all worshipping you and praying. It was truly an amazing experience.
After Mass we had three workshop sessions. I attended 'Living with the Heart of Christ- Pierced and Enflamed.' It was about Jesuit spirituality with a particular emphasis on your Sacred Heart. I really enjoyed this session because I now know more about the devotion to your Sacred Heart Lord. Thank you.
The second Impact Session I attended was entitled 'How to live out FOCUS on a non-FOCUS campus. I found great value in this particular session Lord because Mt. Vernon is not exactly what you call a Catholic Campus. Thank you for giving me new tools to evangelize to my peers Lord and for equipping me to do your work.
The final Impact Session I attended was the 'Men's Religious Panel.' I feel as though this was my favorite session Lord. It was amazing! I sat by Joe, my roommate. There were six men in total on the panel- a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, the Vocation Director of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, a Benedictine Friar, a Capuchin Franciscan Friar, a Dominican Friar, and a Jesuit Priest. A few things really stuck out with me from this session, and they came by way of what the men said:
"Go into their doors so they can come out yours. Meet people where they are."
"A call to Religious Life is two fold: Diocesan Priesthood, or Religious Priesthood."
"Where is your heart being drawn?"
"Spiritual fatherhood is like being a dad, only the demands are much greater."
So I thank you Father above for this amazing blessing. Probably the most profound truth I heard there was from the Vocations Director of Atlanta.
He said, "It's natural for men to want a wife and children. Know this- if you are discerning a call, and feel you want a wife and children, this does not cancel out a call to the Priesthood. I say this because, if a man is discerning a call to the Priesthood, and he does not desire a wife and children- chances are they will not make a good Priest, because the Priest has as his wife the Church, and his spiritual children are his parishioners."
Wow! That is all I can say Lord. Thank you for that message Lord.
At around 18:15, the FOCUS staff held a party for Juniors and Seniors who wanted to learn more about becoming a FOCUS missionary. They had Hours'doeurves and refreshments. I met Matt Gill there, and I now consider him a new friend.
After a little while of talking with Matt I met a girl, Lauren, and she is the FOCUS missionary at George Washington University in DC. We talked for a good half hour or more. I told her my conversion story and where I am now in my faith journey. She highly encouraged me to apply to be a missionary. I am really thinking about it God! I will definitely be praying about it.
Part two of this journal entry will be uploaded tomorrow.