Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Lady of Angels Youth Group

Our Lady of Angels Youth Group came in June to serve for two weeks this summer and they were a wonderful group!  The chapel which they began to build is fittingly called "Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles."  

[Another youth group continued work on this chapel, and at this point it is in need of just a few finishing touches before it is ready for regular use.]

The chapel is now the welcome mat for the Banica/Pedro Santana Mission in the Dominican Republic.  When visitors arrive and then make the 5 hour trek from the airport to Banica the very first chapel that they will see on their way here is the chapel of "Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles" in Palital.  

The chapel features a beautiful set of Stations of the Cross which the OLA youth painted.  

Special thanks are due to Shannon Flanagan (OLA's youth minister) and Luke Schulte (her fiance), who applied their artistic talent to the creation of a 40-foot mural of the life of St. Francis of Assisi.  This mural next to the parish church here in Banica will now be a source of inspiration for the 20,000+ pilgrims who come here for the annual fiesta of St. Francis of Assisi in October.    

Thank you, Luke and Shannon!  May God bless you as you prepare to become one in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony!


Those three letters appear on the tombstones here in Banica and it means "En Paz Descanse."  (In peace may he/she rest.)

Today was the funeral for Rosa Emma Carbajal, whose nickname is "Mason."  She was 98 years old, very devoted to the Blessed Mother, and was receiving sacraments regularly (including anointing of the sick the day before she died).  She died on the Solemnity of the Assumption - probably not a coincidence.  

Photos above show the procession from her home, then to the church, and then finally to the cemetery.  En paz descanse.  

Friday, August 15, 2008

Two men, two weddings, one great Catholic School

School starts this Monday, August 18 - this is the 4th year of operation for the parish school here "El Colegio Parroquial San Francisco Javier."  

The two men standing tall on the wall of the school basketball court are the principal (Hecfredes Gomez) and the vice principal (Gueris Rodriguez).  

Hecfredes was married in the Church last year and has a newborn son (Daniel).  Gueris is engaged to be married in the Church this December.  

Please pray for these two great Catholic men to lead the way for 175 students to have an excellent school year this year!

Matthew Shufflebarger - Catholic engineer volunteer

Matthew Shufflebarger is a rising senior at the University of Virginia where he studies engineering, and he spent two months here this summer serving in Banica.  

Matt has connections to two parishes in the Diocese of Arlington -  Our Lady of Angels Parish in Woodbridge, and St. Louis Parish in Alexandria.  Both parishes have reason to be very proud of Matt.  

He applied his engineering talent and heartfelt dedication to various projects, including the re-design of the water system in the Parish Center, a nicely made wooden pantry cabinet for the Kirby family, and a Blessed Mother grotto.  

Photos above show the grotto and then his last weekend relaxing at the local waterfall with the Kirby Family.

I speak for many in expressing the hope that Matt will have the opportunity to return again here in the future.  He really made a difference.  Please pray for him as he returns for his final year at UVA.  

A Dominican Franciscan Vocation

That's not a typo!  Eighteen year-old Maria Luz has just entered the community of the Franciscan Catechetical Sisters.  Maria Luz is from the eastern part of the Diocese called Azua.  She has discerned a call to serve as a religious sister and last weekend formally entered the Franciscan congregation that happens to serve in Fr. Murphy's parish (San Jose in Pedro Santana).  

As part of an effort to promote vocations the Sisters elected to have the ceremony take place here in our area.  It happened that Fr. Murphy was out of town and so I had the great privilege to celebrate this Holy Mass and preside over the simple ceremony for Maria Luz.  

Photos show Maria Luz formally signing papers regarding her commitment to enter into formation, a photo with me, and then a photo with Sisters in her community.  

In person and in photos she appears to be about 14 years old but I was assured that she is indeed 18 years old :)

Please pray for Maria Luz so that the Holy Spirit will be her Master in this beautiful process of discernment.