This weekend has been busy. Our son plays college basketball and we were on the road to two away games. First night at State University College at Oswego and second at State University College at New Paltz. That’s almost over seven hundred miles of driving over two days and nights. It’s exciting to see Devin and his teammates compete. The boys lost both games but it wasn’t for lack of effort. The first game was decided by only four points and the second by a similar margin. It’s really tough to see a young man we love have to lose, but playing college basketball is a dream come true for him and it’s great to share in that dream.
Between the Oswego and New Paltz lies some very beautiful countryside and we enjoyed our trip down the New York Thruway and the Mohawk and Hudson Valley’s on our journey between the two games. We had plenty of time to do some sightseeing and with my wife’s blessing we stopped at Auriesville Shrine. My mom first took me here as a little boy and again in high school. Yesterday as I walked the grounds at Auriesville I reflected on how much my Mom impacted my faith and my Franciscan journey. Mom insisted that I attend St. Pius X Grammar School as a young boy and that was the beginning of my Franciscan formation. Mom is a “cradle Catholic” and though I tease her about being a “saint” I’m very grateful that she steered my early faith journey. Yesterday gave me a chance to see Auriesville again in all it’s mystical beauty in the heart of the Mohawk Valley on a beautiful mid-winter afternoon. It was great to be back on this holy ground and to gratefully recall my Mother’s gift of her faith to her children
I also wanted to visit the Kateri Shrine because Bl. Kateri Tekawitha is the patroness of our Secular Franciscan Region. Kateri’s life and conversion are celebrated at Auriesville, but the Conventual Franciscan Friars maintain a lovely shrine in her memory very close to Auriesville. Having never been to the Kateri Shrine I was able to get directions from a very accomodating Jesuit priest who was leading a retreat at Auriesville. Diane and I made the short trip to the Kateri Shrine. It was just as “Fr. Bob” had told me on the opposite bank of the Mohawk River and about 6 miles distant. The Kateri Shrine is a beautiful place and I want to return to it again soon to walk the grounds and experience again the peacefulness. While I was there I ran into a perfect stranger, a fellow who by his own admission was neither Catholic nor Franciscan, but who regularily visits the Martyr’s Shrine and the Kateri Shrine and he told me he preferred the latter because of the peacefulness of the surroundings and the presence of the community of friars and lay people who frequent the place. I found a prayer in a small chapel on the grounds which was very lovely and touching.
Loving Creator God, we acknowledge your power and presence in the Four Directions of your vast and beautiful universe. We celebrate Kateri Tekawitha, “Lily of the Mohawks,” as one your Son’s most faithful followers. Help us to turn our backs on all evil and walk in her footsteps, sharing our love and Christian concern with others. Let us reverence, as she did, your mystical presence in the poor and suffering. Through Kateri’s powerful intercession we confidently ask you to grant us this special favor we ask in her name. (Mention your intentions.) Share your healing and peace especially with my family, friends and the sick, whom we commend to your loving care. We ask this through your crucified and risen Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, who lives and reigns with your forever and ever. Amen.
Following our trip to Martyr’s Shrine and the Kateri Shrine we made it to New Paltz had dinner with a young man who is as much a member of our family as our own children. He’s like a brother to Devin. The evening was highlighted by the appearance of my brother and his wife who surprised us with their presence. We hadn’t seen them in nearly a year and it was great to see them and to share the game together.