Excerpt from “Ministry of Pastoral Care: A Eucharistic Experience”

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Pastoral care ministry involves providing patients with the sacred experience of God’s loving presence. Through the mission that was bestowed upon me in the sacrament of Baptism, I am able to carry out Jesus’ threefold ministry – priestly, prophetic, and kingly – to the patients as a loving service of God. As a prophetic minister who acts as messenger sent by and speaking for Jesus, I offer guidance to facilitate understanding and find truth through their faith in God, especially in times of their illness, suffering, and loss. As a kingly minister who comes not to be served but to serve, I serve them by giving them support to address their spiritual (prayers), religious (sacraments), and emotional needs (listening presence). As a priestly minister who mediates between the people and God, I provide patients with the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings to God through meaningful reflection and sacred prayers.

Visiting patients and listening to their stories has led me to contemplate Jesus’ words, “Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you (Mark 4:24).” This passage reminds me of an essential undertaking of a chaplain. When I listen to the patients telling me about their lives, I don’t merely listen but I also fulfill my pastoral responsibility by grasping and retaining what I hear from them. I don’t listen to the unique stories of patients to entertain myself; rather, I listen to how the patients try to explain themselves to me. As they unfold their stories, they are examining themselves by reflecting on their own experiences, describing their relationships, assessing the things that have gone wrong and the things that have gone right, and seeking ways to feel better. I, the listener, am invited to be their companion who will accept, comfort, understand, and pray with them, if possible, throughout their journeys.

Sadly, there were times that I felt discouraged and lured to distance myself from the people I was there to serve. There were people, for instance, who ignored or rejected my offer of service, such as praying together. Some were not open to accept from others, even from their own family and relatives, the spiritual and emotional support that they needed. It made me wonder why some people reject or ignore the support they need without knowing its possible good effects on them. In these situations, I just offered my “ministry of presence” – by being physically and attentively present beside them and spiritually and compassionately present by offering them my own prayers. Like the Eucharist that makes Jesus present, ministering is a concrete experience of God’s presence and unconditional loving work.

Marlon Bobier Vargas, SVD

Photo credit flickr

Three Truer-than-fact Francis Fables

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October 4, 2015, falls on a Sunday this year, making it a Solemnity of the Lord.  Many of us remember that it also the Church’s memorial date for St. Francis of Assisi.

People are drawn to Saint Francis even though most know little about his life.  Images of the Saint preaching to the birds, kissing a leper, or receiving the stigmata during prayer, give us the essential Francis, and these images pull us to Francis just as the Crib and the Cross draw people to Christ.

As a Saint who clearly epitomizes Jesus Christ, St. Francis inspires conversations among Protestants and Catholics alike throughout the year.  And I am frequently struck by the fact that some of the “facts” most known about Francis are not facts at all.  They are fables, not history.   But, if we abandoned these fables, we would also risk losing important truths about Francis that inhere in the historic man, if not the historic record.  Here are three.

Fable One:  St. Francis was a deacon.

Deacons revere St. Francis as the ideal deacon.  Before my ordination to the permanent diaconate, my fellow ordinands and I promised to follow St. Francis as model of simplicity when we made our professions of faith and oaths of fidelity.  Even the Catholic Encyclopedia has claimed that Francis was an ordained deacon.

It never happened.  St. Francis consistently refused suggestions that he prepare for the priesthood, and he lived some five hundred years or more after the Church had last ordained any men as deacons except those preparing for the priesthood. As a friar, Francis was only “tonsured.” To be tonsured was to enter the first of five clerical states a religious or seminarian would go through before ordination to the diaconate, and it did not signify any plan for further advancement.

But this is one of those situations where “if it was not so, it should have been so.”  A deacon is ordained to serve the Word, Liturgy and Charity as an icon of “Christ the Servant.”  Unlike the orders of bishop and priest, the deacon is only ordered to a life of humble service.  Just as significant, all Christians are baptized into diaconia, charitable service to their sisters and brothers.  St. Francis who gave all his property to the poor, who kissed the leper, and who inspired others to follow him in the apostolic counsels, fulfilled his diaconia so completely that he can only be compared to Christ himself.   

The Office of Readings for the memorial of St. Francis quotes his letter to all the faithful which contains one of the Church’s greatest descriptions of our call to service:

“We must not be wise and prudent according to the flesh. Rather, we must be simple, humble, pure. We should never desire to be over others. Instead, we ought to be servants who are submissive to every human being for God’s sake. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on all who live in this way and persevere in it to the end. He will permanently dwell in them. They will be the Father’s children who do his work. They are the spouses, brothers and mothers of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In deed and action, St. Francis teaches us all how to be deacons, that is, servants.

Fable two: St. Francis said, “Preach always and use words if you must.”

This quotation first appeared in the last few decades of the twentieth century, and it is confidently repeated in about ten different ways.  There is no earlier evidence that he ever said it.  Indeed, his life and his writings make it extremely unlikely that he did.   Also, if this fable about Francis is misinterpreted, it can work great mischief he would never have intended.

St. Francis was profoundly committed to preaching, and he preached with words.  All biographers agree that Francis preached constantly and converted many.  Francis converted no one, it seems from the record, merely by his deeds; only through deeds and words.  

Francis never avoided an opportunity to preach.  When he looked for a way to end the Crusades, he crossed enemy lines so that he could preach to Saladin.  Francis was in love with God, and a lover uses words.  According to Thomas of Celano, a Franciscan who knew Francis and wrote the Saint’s first biography, Francis would habitually greet the birds.  Once when a flock did not fly away from him, Francis was moved to preach to them, verbally admonishing them to obey the creator!

Francis was always using words.  His words convinced because they were rooted in the deeds of a committed heart.

The quotation “Preach always and use words if you must” begs the question, “When must we use words?”  Francis’ example pretty much says “always.”  The problem with this quotation for modern Americans, in my view, is that it gives false comfort to those of us who do good works.  We may feel that we are relieved from the responsibility of proclaiming.  Today, here in Chicago, some thirty percent of the population is routinely getting help from Catholic Charities.  How many of those people ever hear that we do-gooders are doing this with Christ?  That we are on mission from the Eucharist?  That we bring good news with our soup and shelter?  

If we are only doing good works, we are only preaching that we are good people.  No one objects to having help from good people, and no one is converted to Christ simply because they have met some good people.  They need to hear the good news.  Otherwise, Francis would tell us, “You are never preaching!”

The admonition to “preach always and use words if you must,” reminds us that our preaching begins with deeds, but it does not allow us to avoid words altogether.  

Fable three: St. Francis wrote the prayer “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”  

There is no evidence for this prayer before the twentieth century.  Its first publication may have been a 1943 sermon by Reinhold Niebuhr.

St. Francis surely would have loved this prayer.  It expressly asks God for the grace to be used by God as God used Francis himself.

G.K. Chesterton’s classic St. Francis Assisi stresses that Francis was a romantic, a troubadour  who could not restrain himself from reckless acts and expressions of his love for God.   The “Peace Prayer,” I believe, is more of a preparatory prayer for one who would want to fall in love with God as Francis did.  After his conversion, Francis was beyond that point.  He was a man who was in love.

For this reason I think that the “Peace Prayer,” like the other two “fables” here, is truly

“Franciscan” because it provides a valid point of access to a profoundly holy life, a life whose historical facts might confound us if we limited ourselves to their extraordinary content.  

-Gerald E. Nora

(photo credit: flickr)

Prayer of St. Arnold Janssen

This song was composed for and sung during my profession of Perpetual Vows and dedicated to my two classmates who also professed with me, Thien Duc Nguyen, SVD and Hien Van Pham, SVD at the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Techny, Illinois, USA on September 19, 2015.

The text is the famous prayer of the founder of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and Holy Spirit Missionary (SSpS) and Adoration (SSpSAP) Sisters, St. Arnold Janssen. I finished the song on September 7, 2015 and it was arranged for choir by Gianpaolo Eleria (singer on the right). The group that is singing is the Philippine American Choral project under the baton of Enrico Lagasca.

May the darkness of sin and the night of unbelief vanish before the light of the Word and the Spirit of grace. 

And may the heart of Jesus live in the hearts of all. Amen.

— St. Arnold Janssen

Paul M. Aquino, SVD

The Church’s Best Kept Secret

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When I was asked to write about an aspect of religious life that interested me, on thing came to mind.  For me, this one thing is perhaps the least understood aspect of religious life today.  The ironic thing is that this one thing is the very backbone of men’s religious life: the lay brotherhood.

When I first began to realize that I was being called to a religious vocation, I was at a loss.  I knew that I was not called to the priesthood and my only other understanding of vocation for a man was that of monastic life.  Like many people in the Church, I had no knowledge of there being something called the lay brother.  My understanding of holiness for a man was a priesthood or cloistered prayer.  When I discovered the lay brotherhood, however, everything made sense. I had a distinct sense that my vocation lay in that way of life.

Click here to continue reading this article on the Theophilus Journal page

David A. Hirt, O.F.M. Cap.

(Photo Credit: Skip, Flickr.com, Some Rights Reserved)

Mouse Traps, Tacos, Bad Plumbing, …and the Trinity?

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley, some rights reserved.

Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley, some rights reserved.

What do mouse traps, tacos, and bad plumbing have to do with the Trinity?  For my husband and me, everything. But before I divulge, let me set the stage.

The doctrine of the Trinity tells us two very important things about its meaning. First: it is not about math; rather, it tells us that the Trinity is the symbol of God as relationship. Second: it tells us that the Trinity beckons our participation in the work of God.

From math to mutuality

The Trinity is more than a bad math equation. 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 is not a problem meant to be solved by means of calculator and pencil marks. Rather, the symbol of the Trinity is meant to evoke the intimacy of relationship, but not just any kind of relationship. In fact, the Councils of Nicea (325 ACE) and Constantinople (381 ACE) solidified that the nature of this relationship is not one of “power-over.” Rather, the doctrine of the Trinity reveals that the relations among the persons of the Trinity encompass hospitality, equality, mutuality and inclusion (1). Therefore, the doctrine of the Trinity suggests that we worship a God whose reality is radically mutual relationship. Simply put, the Trinity tells us God is relationship at its best.

Participating in the Trinity

We are also implicated in the relationship that is Trinity. It does nothing for our world to simply believe that God is Triune; one must participate in the work that the Trinity is already doing in the world (Fiddes, Participating in God).  We do this by engaging our relationship with God through engaging in our relationships with others. The word for this is orthopraxis (2).   Orthopraxis implies that our focus is no longer speaking about the triune God but rather acting out of relationship with the triune God. Orthopraxis literally means “right action.”  We are then left with the task of acting rightly by reflecting characteristics that embody hospitality, equality, mutuality and inclusion. Our charge then as trinitarian Christians is to ask ourselves: Do our lives reflect the relationship-centered Trinity? Does our church? What about our society?

When we take this ancient doctrine of the Trinity seriously, seeds take root. We are flung into a life of discipleship centered around a unique goal: building equal, hospitable relationships, attending to the wounds of those who have been slighted of relationship and forging relationship where it does not already exist. We are brought to places we never expected as we nurture these seeds that get planted by participating in the Trinity.   And this is where the mouse traps, tacos, and bad plumbing come in to play for my husband and me.

The seed

Our seed was planted back in November when Tom and I attended our first meeting as board members on the Port Ministries’ Young Professional Advisory Board. The Port Ministries is an organization that provides a variety of services to the Chicago’s notorious Back of the Yards neighborhood. Ministries of the Port include a free clinic, after school programming, GED classes, and the Bread Truck which provides meals all throughout the neighborhood. The evening of the board meeting, one of the Port’s directors, David, took us on a tour of the Port. Although we had been bringing college students to volunteer at the Port’s various services, we had never actually been inside the Port’s third largest building, which used to be an old rectory. David escorted us through many bedrooms, a kitchen, and even a small chapel. The Holy Spirit must have been must have been jumping up and down and waving at us frantically during that tour in order to get us to see beyond the dank, disheveled, dusty appearance of the house. Her song and dance worked, though. The seed took root. The moment Tom and I stepped outside, we looked at each other and smiled. Tom said to me, “Should I just tell David that we will move in there?”

It turns out, this same seed planted within Tom and me was also simultaneously being planted for a young woman, Molly, who was working as a nurse in Iowa. For the next few months, together with David and Molly, we dreamed and planned and wondered if something like this would really be a possibility: an intentional community that asks very little rent, and in return, community members would provide volunteer service to the Port. In February our plans were approved. In April, we started packing. At the beginning of May, we painted the two rooms that we would inhabit. And then, we moved in! Within the first week, we found one of Chicago’s best taco places in the back of an unassuming supermercado. Week two we had to set down mouse traps in our kitchen. Going on our third week, we have made a routine out of jumping from one bathroom where only the toilet works, to the bathroom across the hall where only the sink works.

The relationships

And through all of us, we find ourselves building relationships. From the helpful man who owns the pest store on Ashland, to the family who serves Chicago’s best tacos at La Internacional Tacos Y Supermercado, to the Port’s board members who are graciously helping us fundraise to fix our plumbing. And the list goes on . . . . We walk our dog a few times a day around Cornell Square Park where we meet moms who drop their kids off at the school nearby and push their little ones on the swings. We are beginning to recognize kids who regularly play soccer on the turf in the evenings. We often hear small children shout, “Mirra! El perro!” (Admittedly, he is kind of funny looking.) In fact, our dog has even befriended a German shepherd whose young owner has agreed to meet us every Friday so the two dogs can play together.

The prayer

So what do mouse traps, tacos and bad plumbing have to do with the Trinity? For us, they are signs of relationships that have begun to grow as a result of the seed that the triune God planted in our lives. This seed that called us to move into a neglected neighborhood, create a community, and grow relationships, is a result of taking the Trinity seriously.  Ultimately, our prayer is that God might create something good in a neighborhood that faces so much pain. As we “Go, therefore, and make [ourselves] disciples…” we can be assured that our triune God “is with us always” (MT 28:16-20).

**Originally published on Daily Theology.**

Dannis Matteson has served the Catholic Common Ground Initiative since October of 2014.  She recently received her M.A. in Systematic Theology from Catholic Theological Union as a Bernardin Scholar and is excited and honored to continue the legacy of Cardinal Bernardin at CCGI.  In addition to her work at CCGI, Dannis teaches theology as an adjunct professor at Saint Xavier University in Chicago. Dannis and her husband Thomas Cook (newly named Associate Director of Spiritual Formation for Lay Students at CTU) have lived in the Hope House at the Port since the beginning of May, 2015, alongside their community member, Molly. They hope to continue to attract people who wish to serve the Back of the Yards and live out their faith in community. Dannis’ theological interests include Trinitarian theology, political theology and eco-feminist theology.  Aside from ministry, Dannis and Tom spend their time taking care of their puppy, Paulie, biking on the Chicago lakefront, and living the lifestyle of discipleship.

Why I Wear the Habit

by Frater Michael Brennan, O.Praem.
As a “youngish” religious, I find myself somewhere in the middle of this conversation of clerical
dress, which in my case includes my Norbertine habit.  Some have accused those that wear the
habit of being overly clerical or of wanting to draw attention to themselves.  I, myself, have been
accused of wearing the habit as a way of “hiding behind it.”  This accusation disturbed me and
continues to disturb me.

Recently, I was walking through Northwestern Hospital in my habit on my way to distribute
Eucharist to patients on the oncology floors.  Before reaching the escalator, a woman called out
to me and invited me to join her and her friend in conversation over coffee.  Naturally, I agreed;
both women shared their stories with me.  One is at the hospital holding vigil with her 18-month
old granddaughter, who is battling cancer.  The other woman is at the hospital holding vigil with
her 23-year old son, who is battling a rare reaction to previous medical treatment.  These two
women have become intimate friends over the last several weeks.  They found each other
because their loved ones were having surgery on the same day.  One was drawn to the other
because she was praying the rosary in the family waiting room during surgery.  This public
display of prayer drew them together.  Thus, they have been able to share prayer, coffee and
other means of support for one another over the last few weeks.

In this example, because of my habit—a public expression of our shared belief—I, too, was
drawn into their circle of support.  They felt comfortable sharing beautiful stories of their
struggles and their joys.  We concluded our brief encounter with shared prayer, hugs and
promises to hold one another in prayer.  First and foremost, I thank God for this opportunity to
encounter these women and to share our common faith.  I also thank my community for
encouraging me to wear the habit as a means of facilitating these chance encounters.

In closing, I recognize this is a sensitive issue for many women and men; I offer this story as
part of the conversation, with the recognition of the value and call inherent in each of the individual and communal decisions surrounding distinctive religious dress.
Frater Mike Brennan, O. Praem.

Blog author, Frater Mike Brennan, O. Praem., is an Mdiv student at CTU.

Newcomers Adapt to Hyde Park, Chicago

David Bowles, CTU MA Student, shares this blog with us via his journalism class at CTU’s partner school, DePaul University.

JustStory

ellen 2 YES Ellen Salmi’s recycling demonstrates her affinity for her new, Hyde Park community. (Photo by David Bowles)

Four students attending Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park share first impressions and adjustments after recent transition.

By David Bowles

“Hyde Park has lots of gems,” Nick Mullarkey exclaimed on a recent Friday afternoon.

The “gem” he most talked about was Powell’s Bookstore on 57th street. Nick, originally from Des Moines, Iowa, moved to Hyde Park five months ago and is both a student at Catholic Theological Union (CTU), and a member of the Augustinian religious community. While living in a busy community house, the bookstore provides a quiet place for his introverted side.

Nick Mallarkey finds joy in the quiet of a local bookstore Nick Mullarkey finds joy in the quiet of a local bookstore. (Photo by David Bowles)

Another new student at CTU is Evelyn Brush. When asked where she lives, she stated. “Hyde Park,” then corrected herself and said, “East Hyde…

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HOW CAN YOU… BELIEVE THIS STUFF?

By Susan Francesconi
A reflection inspired by last Sunday's readings, specifically, “The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” —1 John 3:1b
This reflection first appeared on Susan's blog, The Good Disciple.


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HOW CAN YOU, AN OTHERWISE NORMAL AND INTELLIGENT PERSON, BELIEVE THIS STUFF?

Last month on Facebook I happened upon a lively conversation between my friend—a respected environmental activist—and his friends, on the relevance of religion in today’s world.

In his original post my friend made a proclamation of faith stating he would persist in his practice of Catholicism—which he strongly identifies with values of charity and justice—and partake in the sacraments as is his right, despite what he called the antithetical “contempt for the lives of their fellow humans” exhibited by certain Catholic Cardinals (i.e. the largely dismissed, but widely quoted Burke). If I could have “liked” his post a thousand times I would have.

I did not know my friend was religious, or Catholic for that matter. But what followed was a series of challenges to his (and my) belief system, some of which may have been driven by curiosity or a sincere desire to understand, but my sense was that most of the challengers’ questions were based on the logical conclusion that “it doesn’t take a creed or cross to understand the difference between right and wrong” (quote paraphrased from the conversation). This statement is a sad reminder to me that for many, the beauty and vibrancy of faith and religion is lost, and the grandeur of God* that surrounds and saturates every waking hour and all of creation has been hijacked by moralists and functionalists.

My friend responded with the utmost kindness, patience and clarity to his readers’ questions such as whether religious institutions teach anything that cannot be found in the writings of great philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hume. My friend provided personal experiences from his younger days and concluded that being educated in philosophy does not make one a moral being, impart a desire to care for others, increase empathy, or instill a love or reverence for other humans or creation.

Another reader opined that religion is the source of authoritarian power against poor, helpless masses. He challenged my friend to name one thing, other than religious doctrine, that a church can offer which cannot be found elsewhere. My friend pointed to the radical examples of faith from people like Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Tom Berry and Paul Mayer, and questioned his friend’s premise that the presence of secular moral teachings that parallel those of Jesus indicate Christianity has run its course and is obsolete. He also noted that the actual cause of the world’s problems are money and power, both of which are capable of contaminating any institution including government, religion, education, media, and business. Of these, he said, “Christianity at least has values and beliefs around which one can build a life and community.”

Believers are frequently confronted with questions like these, which seem to ask “How can you, an otherwise normal and intelligent person, believe this stuff? It gets tiresome. But, in many cases, I think people really want to know what makes believers, believe. I have to admit, if I did not know God and was standing on the side of “I can be a good person without religion” I would have questions for my believing friends, too. It’s true.

But the purpose of religion is not to teach us how to live a “goal-filled life characterized by moral direction,” as one of my friend’s readers suggested. The purpose of religion is union with God; the act of religion is grounded in love of God, the creator, the higher power, or the “something greater” sensed by many people. Religion is God-centered, not self-improvement centered. Why do we do this? Because we want to know God, and when one has an experience of divine presence and abiding love (which by the way happens all the time if one is attentive), it’s pretty hard to understand how all people aren’t actively seeking the same.

At some point in life, maybe as a child, maybe as an adult, maybe at the point of death, believers come to see that regardless of our imperfections, God loves us with a radical love. And as author Cathleen Falsani writes in my new favorite book, Disquiet Time, “God loves me. Just as I am. (…) God fights for me. God pursues me. God never gives up on me. God never stops loving me.” (Grant and Falsani 2014)**

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. —1 John 3:1b

This personal knowledge of God’s deep abiding love does not arrive by stork or magic or by lightning. People of all faith traditions have devoted their entire lives to the quest of knowing God. Spiritual practice is work; that is why it is called a practice. It requires conscious awareness, detachment and a decision to forego functionalist thinking, to follow that nagging “what if?” and traverse the jagged, unknown regions of life.

When we walk the earth with wonder and revere the miracle and dignity of every man, woman and child, every living creature, our planet and the universe, we make room for God and our hearts fill to the brim. It is entirely possible to become aware of God’s grace, God’s full-out mercy, and God’s limitless generosity. Here’s how: Remain open. You are beloved. Accept it like a soaking rain. This is the most profound statement of faith anyone can make. And the fact that one can deny it does not make it any less true. Sure, it is possible to be a good person without religion. And, let’s be honest. It’s damn hard to be good all the time. But religious people believe there is more to life than being good.

 

*God’s Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

—Gerard Manley Hopkins, SJ: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

** Grant, Jennifer, and Cathleen Falsani, eds. 2014. Disquiet Time: Rants and Reflections on the Good Book by the Skeptical, the Faithful, and a Few Scoundrels. Jericho Books. page 6.

Susan Francesconi is “this close” to earning her MAPS degree from CTU later this summer. She is a faith blogger (thegooddisciple.me) developer of a liturgical art ministry website (artinthesanctuary.com), citizen of the world, and student of life striving to generate something good. Susan lives in New Jersey with her husband of 30 years, and Rosie, who is the cutest dog ever.

 

The Chapel of Resurrection

Introduction to the poem:
The Church of the Immaculate Conception near the Piazza Barberini in Rome is the site of one of the Capuchin Bone Chapels. It is composed of 5 chapels: the first chapel reminds the visitor that, “As you are now, we once were and as we are now you will be.” Then there are three chapels each composed focusing on one major bone type… the femur, skull, and pelvis. The final chapel, the Chapel of the Resurrection, has at its center a picture of the Resurrection of Lazarus rather than a picture of Christ’s Resurrection.

The Chapel of the Resurrection

Bone Church

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The poet, Br. David Hirt, OFM, Cap., professed his perpetual vows in July of 2013. He graduated with an AB from Wabash College, received an MFA from Wayne State University in Scenic Design, graduated with an MDiv from CTU
in 2013 and is currently doing the summer Christian Spirituality Program at Creighton University. After graduating from CTU he spent a year and a half at St. Lawrence Seminary High School as a Spiritual Director and Campus Minister and is currently the Activities Coordinator at St. Ben’s Community Meal in Milwaukee. He is a poet and an artist.

Fifty Days and a Little Fire

A Poem by Marci Madary

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Marci Madary, CTU DMin. student, fell in love with poetry when she was a child and began writing poems during her teenage years.  In her undergraduate studies, she majored in English education.  Marci is currently an Affiliation Co-Minister with the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, but still enjoys reading and writing poetry to express who she is as a woman, mother, and child of God.