Sunday, Jan. 24, 2015 – St. Timothy Chapel – Greenwich, CT

I had been saving this one in hope of hitting a Korean Mass, but when I called to confirm when that mass might be…the recording did not give a listing for it. So, Liz and Lisa and I journeyed off to the final Church on my tour!

It was cold and kind of snowing, but tucked in a little corner of the world was a cute little chapel with a priest Lisa knew!!
Such a nice mass, but I don’t remember anything in particular that made me feel at peace. It was just nice to stand in the quiet place realizing that I had accomplished a goal I set out for this year as my New Year’s Resolution. I had completed it with Lisa and Liz…the two who came to so many of the masses with me. It is good friends that carry you towards what your goals are…that was so clear to me.

When I got the pictures done of this little chapel, lo and behold, there was a perfect clear orb over the altar…..a spirit. A holy spirit, no doubt. The presence of the holy spirit was obvious in this little chapel and there it was in my photo!
We spoke to the priest after mass. Lisa caught him up to speed and we shared why we were there. He was genuinely excited for us, which was so cool!

SO……the tour is over. All 85 churches completed.
I have to say it was one of my cooler New Year’s resolutions….Over the years:
I have walked every street in Norwalk.
I have visited every winery in CT
I have spent a year calling people randomly throughout the country whenever they popped into my head (that was a great year!!!)
I have met up with Clyna once a month (we liked that so much, we have done it for 2 years!)
I have kept track of every book I have read for 2012, 2013, and 2014
I am still on page 500+ of the Bible I started to read 2 years ago
But….I still don’t exercise everyday like I promised so many times on Jan. 1st over the years……but I have to say……I thoroughly enjoyed this journey this year! What made it even more special was that I did it with people I love deeply!!

THANK YOU Everyone who joined me at some point during the 2014 CHURCH TOUR!!

Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 – Blessed Sacrament Parish – Bridgeport, CT

So…..I left Our Lady of Good Council Chapel kind of sad and disheartened and went to Duchess to wait for my friends to be joining me for mass at Blessed Sacrament. Liz, Wendy, Pam and Leslie were meeting me there!
What a bonus when we realized the BISHOP was meeting us there as well!!!

I specifically chose this mass because it was a Gospel Choir and I hadn’t been to a Catholic Church yet with a Gospel Choir so I thought it would be fun and so did the other four. As we sat down in our pew we realized something else was happening. People were scurrying about and it seemed like something out of the normal routine was going to be happening at this mass. We were right! Out came Bishop Caggiano to talk to the people!

I so wished Lisa would have been able to be with us!!!

So the mass went on and his message was lovely…”Love more courageously, Love more gently, and Love more fully”. What a beautiful way of heading into 2015.

I thought of all the times I have been afraid to LOVE courageously or gently or fully. What if I didn’t have the right words to say? What if I am misunderstood? What if I get emotional? What if I don’t really mean it?

His message was simple……who cares?? Just do it……love courageously, gently and fully…I truly am going to try to do this through my actions (because I usually just cry when I try to say it)…..maybe writing it or acting it will be better for me……..
He left us with the thought of what kind of world would this be if EVERYONE loved more courageously, more gently and more fully……perhaps it would be the type of world Jesus was trying to create. We have been sent to do his work courageously, gently and fully.

So happy that the added bonus of being with 4 of my best friends, with a Gospel Choir, was enhanced by the presence of Bishop Caggiano’s loving message.

LOVE MORE COURAGEOUSLY, LOVE MORE GENTLY, and LOVE MORE FULLY!!
Good words to live by!

Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 – Our Lady of Good Council Chapel – Bridgeport, CT

I spent the night up at the lake house in Waterbury alone. It was peaceful and relaxing. My morning plans were to hit 2 of my final 3 churches to complete my 2014 Church Tour!

I was excited to head off to Our Lady of Good Council Chapel alone and then the plan was to meet some friends for mass at Blessed Sacrament for the 84th church!

The morning was dreary as I left for mass.

When I got there, there was only me and one other Spanish gentleman parked along the curb. There were no lights, no people, no welcoming feeling. I thought I was early, so I waited. A few minutes later, the man approached the church doors. They were locked.

He came back towards my car. He told me, in broken English, “There must be no mass today. The oil burner must still be broken.”

I was so sad!! How sad that with all the money I have seen in so many churches throughout this diocese that the people in this area (which seemed pretty poor) would not be able to attend church today because of a broken boiler! How long has this boiler been broken and when will it be fixed???

It kind of pissed me off to be honest.

There should be some kind of contingency plan or something so that this type of issue could be cleared up and the people of this neighborhood, who likely do not have the means to travel around looking for a church to go to today, would be able to go to their neighborhood church!

I have to be honest…I was a bit disappointed in my faith community this morning….not because I couldn’t visit this church, but because the people of this neighborhood could not go to their church today! It made me sad.

Maybe I will make it back there someday and my faith will be lifted again in the people of my diocese!

Friday, Jan. 2, 2015 – St. Mary’s Church – Norwalk, CT

I have been in this church dozens of times and today the mass was downstairs in the chapel. I had only been there about 18 months ago for a mass for Vinnie’s Dad. The chapel is called St. Patrick’s Chapel.

In that chapel on the second day of 2015, was me and about 50 other people!! It was an eclectic group of people: some wore suits, some wore dresses and skirts, some wore veils on their heads and held rosary beads throughout the mass. There were two little girls with Down’s Syndrome who seemed to know each other…waving as they went up to communion! So sincere, authentic, and sweet!

The priest said most of the mass with his back turned to the crowd.

When communion came, some of us took the Eucharist the typical way I am used to. Two lines up to the priest, the host goes into our hands and we eat the body of Christ. However, there was at least half of the people who waited to take communion by mouth, kneeling at the railings at the altar…….very traditional (throw back!!). The songs were then sung in Latin and the mass ended. BUT, then there were a litany of prayers that were said and it seemed like everybody, except me, knew them!!

In a strange way, it was beautiful and I felt like I was a visitor in a far away land. So interesting….and I thought to myself…….Hmmm, this happens every morning right here in Norwalk…who knew??

Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 – St. Paul Episcopal Church – Norwalk, CT

I went to the Burning Bowl Ceremony again this year. It is always a cool way to end the year. I listed all the things that burden me, then throw them into the fire on my way out the door to great a new year. I have big hopes and dreams for 2015….sell my house, make plans to let go of Norwalk (physically, but never emotionally!!) and put myself, Vinnie, and our kids onto a new path for our future. “Letting go” seemed to be the theme of 2014 and as I talked about letting things go throughout the year, it is becoming easier to “let go” and now “look forward”!

I am excited for 2015…I have high hopes for it….I will finish my 2014 New Year’s Resolution, I will go to Guatemala to dedicate the Donald F. Reid Memorial School, and I will put my house on the market and hopefully celebrate a new owner who will love this house as much as I do. I will also welcome a new Superintendent and a new Assistant Principal. I have so many good things to look forward to!!