Month: August 2016

It’s not easy, but goodbye

I’ve used this quote in at least one other blog post, but it truly is one of my favorite quotes, mainly because I am so lucky.

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard,” —Winnie the Pooh.

Tonight is my last night at home. I leave for my senior year at Chadron State College tomorrow, and although my parents and brother are going with me to help me move in, I’m sad to be leaving. And I know I’ve talked about home in another blog also, but it’s important for me to say it again.

Chadron is a beautiful town and a wonderful school and I have lots of friends there to help it feel like home, but nothing truly compares to the home I grew up in.

My parents growing up didn’t let me do everything I wanted to do, but they definitely were loving and caring. They were always looking out for what was best for me and my future. They instilled hard work, courage, faith, and love in my character.

My younger brother is my biggest role model and inspiration. I’m so proud of everything he does and I love watching him accomplish all that he has in his short 17 years of life.

The town I grew up in was supportive and encouraging. I didn’t personally know everyone in this town growing up, but I did recognize everyone in this town.

This town and this house will forever be my home, no matter how far away I go later in life. This town, just like my parents, created my personality and character and I know I would be a different person had I grown up anywhere else.

Leaving my home is never easy, especially when it means leaving my family, but I am excited to get back to school and finish out my final year.

So this is just a short blog post, just like my short stay at home (only 2 weeks, boo…), but I just wanted to once again acknowledge how lucky I am because it is hard to say goodbye.

So to my family (and this town), thank you, I love you, I’ll miss you, and see you on my next journey home (probably when I come watch those Wildcats play some football).

Being a witness to the Catholic faith

Being a witness to the Catholic faith

(First published in the West Nebraska Register on July 29, 2016;

Ten different churches on the weekends; seven weeks on the road; five strings, mysteries, and fruits; three teammates; all for one purpose: be a witness to the Catholic Faith.
This summer I spent my time teaching Totus Tuus, a weeklong summer camp for kids ages first grade through high school. This was my second year of teaching and again, was an amazing experience.
This summer I had the opportunity to teach with a completely different set of college students from my team last summer. This summer I had the opportunity to meet three new friends who have influenced my life. Ryan Keisling would be a junior at the University of Nebraska Kearney this fall except that he decided to go to the seminary. He will be a seminarian for the Omaha archdiocese and will attend St. John Vianney Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., in the fall. Alec Hruby will be a sophomore at Doane University in the fall studying secondary science education. And Kendall Schumacher will be a junior at the University of Nebraska Kearney studying social work.
Each year of Totus Tuus we focus on a different set of the mysteries of the rosary and on a different section of the Catechism.
This year our mysteries were the glorious mysteries and the prayer section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The glorious mysteries are the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Decent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary, and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. These mysteries are inspiring and uplifting, and therefore, are easy to teach the kids about.
The prayer section of the Catechism is another story. You can teach anyone about the linguistics of prayer and different types of prayers, but you can’t force anyone to pray or have a relationship with God. Prayer is the idea of talking and listening to God and therefore establishing a relationship with God.
To cover that section of Totus Tuus we had various classes about what prayer is, different types of prayers, who we can pray with, and we dissected The Lord’s Prayer. We also teach about and talk about the reality of how difficult prayer is.
My favorite of the discussions we have with the high schoolers is the battle of prayer talk. During this talk I discuss the ideas behind three sections of the church—the church suffering, the church militant, and the church triumphant.
The church militant is us. This is the group of people who are on earth right now still fighting the battle to get to heaven. This is the group of people who are on the front lines of fighting this battle.
The church triumphant is the people who have been successful in the battle. These are the people who won and are now in heaven. These are the saints in heaven who are willing to continue helping us on earth.
The church suffering is the people in purgatory who are still in need of our prayers.
The reason I like this idea is because it puts us all in this battle together. My prayer life would have crashed and burned many times in my life if it wasn’t for my friends and family who have prayed for me and with me.
I love thinking about the church as a group of people working together for a bigger goal and that’s one reason I enjoy teaching Totus Tuus. I meet a large number of people who are all fighting this battle alongside me, and they are pushing me and supporting me.
And Totus Tuus encompasses that idea. It is a group of people—four college students to be exact—working together to succeed in a bigger goal—teaching kids about God.
So to everyone who had a part in my summer, especially Kendall, Ryan and Alec, thank you for being in my life and for making my Catholic community even better.
God bless.

Helping to spread the love of God

Helping to spread the love of God

(First published in the West Nebraska Register on July 15, 2016;

Ryan Keisling, Totus Tuus teacher, leads the students at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, St. Paul in the banana song at the end of the day.

After completing four weeks of Totus Tuus, the teachers were rewarded with a week break to celebrate the 4th of July.

During the time off, I took a road trip to Afton, Wyo. There’s a family out there that are close friends of mine. They live in Afton and the closest Catholic Church is about 20 miles away. This church has a cool story to it because five years ago this church building didn’t exist. The church is in Star Valley in Wyoming. The Valley includes about 19 towns and this is the only Catholic Church in those 19 towns.
Where I grew up there was at least one Catholic Church within an hour of where I was at any given time, but before this building was built and the church was built, there just simply wasn’t a Catholic Church in the area, and the fact is amazing to me. The church isn’t always packed like it was this weekend, but there is always a number of families in attendance, even when it’s not tourist season.
I was lucky enough to be at the Holy Family Catholic Church in Thane, Wyo., just a week after the fourth anniversary of the church and the homily and reading from that weekend were exactly what I needed to re-inspire me to finish out my summer of Totus Tuus on a strong note.
If you went to church the weekend of July 3 you heard the same Gospel reading from Luke as I did, but in this packed church that didn’t exist four years ago it did something special in my heart. The reading was about sending 72 disciples out to preach in various towns.
Luke 10:2 says, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few…” and Luke 10:8-11 says, “Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it and say to them ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.’ Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.'”
The homily from Deacon Bill Hill expressed the idea that we are all called to go out and preach the Gospel wherever we go. In this passage the Lord isn’t only talking to those specific 72 disciples, but instead He is talking to all of us. He is asking all of us to go out and do His work. But, He does warn us that sometimes there will be push back and not everyone will be willing to receive us.
Ryan Keisling, Totus Tuus teacher, leads the students at Sts. Peter and Paul Church, St. Paul in the banana song at the end of the day.

This family I visited has six kids and they are outcasts in their school and town because of their Catholic faith.
They are made fun of, excluded from activities, and criticized for their beliefs and for their dedication to the faith.When thinking about that family, listening to that homily, and looking around at that wonderful little parish in the middle of nowhere, I was suddenly more than ready to get back to Totus Tuus.
This summer God called me to be a Totus Tuus teacher and to do exactly that same thing that He asked of those 72. He wants me to go out and spread His message. To share His story with children all over the Diocese of Grand Island, but more than that He called me to be a witness to His love to everyone I come in contact with this summer, and for the rest of my life.
Thankfully, during Totus Tuus, there isn’t usually much push back about the Catholic faith, but during my time teaching, I am instilling in myself and in the kids I teach, that being a witness to the love of God—and thus the faith—should be something we all do everyday.
This reading from Luke comes from the same chapter of some of my favorite verses in the Bible.
Luke 10: 27 says, “…‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.’”
If the kids I teach this summer learn nothing except two things, this is what I want them to learn: God always loves you and it’s our job to show that love to everyone else every day.