Posts Tagged ‘Diocese of Cheyenne’

February 26, 2016
Birthday angel

Birthday angel

Today was the birthday of one of my co-workers.  We are a small group – 14 or 15, depending on the day, and we are pretty much a family.  It’s hard not to be when you are working for the same thing – eternal salvation – in such close proximity.

Like a family, sometimes there are disagreements, but no fisticuffs, foul language, or character assassinations.  We might raise eyebrows or talk about someone, but it’s not serious, or long lasting. And woe be unto anyone who attacks one of us – there will be all the others lined up to protect him / her.

Birthdays in the chancery are a nice change of pace.  We get a page on our office phones telling us it’s time to celebrate a birthday in the kitchen.  We all wander  out of our offices and head to the kitchen, where the birthday buddy has prepared a high calorie treat.

We draw names for the birthdays.  The birthday buddy brings a cake, or some appropriate substitute.  Our Chancellor, Carol, makes this incredible coffee cake. She was my birthday buddy a couple years ago, and, having expressed my admiration of her baking skills with that coffee cake, she knew exactly what to make.  The birthday buddy also hangs up the communal “Happy Birthday” sign, and purchases a little gift.

When everyone is gathered together, we then sing Happy Birthday.  For the last 5 years, the Happy Birthday leader has been our HR director, Larry.  Larry is a wonderful human being, but he has trouble singing in a key where others can comfortably join him, and he rarely hits the exact right note.  He gets close most of the time,  but we love the fact that he cares enough to not care about his singing.  Today, however, Larry was gone and yours truly jumped in and helped out.

The birthday girl’s gift was the angel above, which was accompanied by the framed quote behind her. The quote said something to the effect that in the morning I need a bunch of coffee and a whole lotta Jesus. You can get away with stuff like that when you work for the Catholic Church!

It all sounds so very mundane, and quaint, doesn’t it?  But really, none of us would have it any other way.  We really love each other, and we really love the work we do.  Celebrating birthdays is just another way of showing that love to the other workers in the vineyard.

We really are a family, and we really do care about the eternal salvation of the people of God in Wyoming.  It was a joyous celebration today, just like it is for every birthday at the Chancery.

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Hidden treasure

February 22, 2016

 

Our Lady of Peace

Our Lady of Peace

One of the benefits of working in a chancery is that we are surrounded by religious art.  Some of it, as you might imagine, is pretty good.  Case in point is this tapestry.

This photo is just a small section of a good sized tapestry.  I have never known where it came from, even though I have admired it for years and asked my co workers what they knew about it.

Tonight I was getting ready to leave, last one out, when I looked at it and it just caught my eye as a good subject for a shot. It hangs on a wall and is just outside the edge of direct light from a fixture in the ceiling.  It was a little too dark to get the details I wanted, so I took it off the wall and set it in the direct light.

Lo and behold, an envelope was taped to the back of the frame.  I looked inside and there were 2 things; a picture of the tapestry from a catalog, and a holy card from the funeral of a woman.  My guess is that this was a donation from the woman’s family to the Church, and she has gone unknown to me until tonight.

What a wonderful gift to find this generous woman’s legacy in our office!  This tapestry is so appropriately named, as it brings great peace just looking at it.  Our Blessed Mother, in all her splendor.  What joy!

Thank you to this woman for her gift.  I will prayer for the repose of her soul, and thank God for her generosity and love of our Church.

February 16, 2016
Empty

Empty

Ever looked at a playground at night?

I never really paid attention to one until tonight. Every Tuesday we have a meeting of a club I have belonged to for 7 years.  This is a club that is 114 years old and has existed in its current format since the beginning.

We hold our meetings in a building in a park, and next to the buildings is a playground.  As a child, my idea of a playground wasn’t much more than monkey bars on asphalt. Today that just wouldn’t do, despite the sort of romantic notions we hold over the things of the past.  Some kid falling from the top of the bars and hitting the deck below would be in serious trouble. Today’s playgrounds are much, much safer, and, frankly, appear to be a lot more fun than those monkeybars.

Tonight as I walked across the parking lot and into the meeting, I saw the silhouette of the playground. Here was this place of immense joy and laughter, and it was empty and dark.  That about sums up how I felt tonight going into, and coming out of, this meeting.

The emptiness and darkness were not for me.  Rather, they are for a some members of the club who are going through unspeakable hardship right now.  Rather than detail things, suffice it to say their conditions are not what anyone in his right mind would choose.

Yet here they are at the meeting, men of whom I have grown very fond over the years.  Knowing of their fear, anxiety and profound sadness, I can’t help but believe they come to the meetings for the friendship and support they know that is theirs.  My intention is to breathe in their troubles and breathe out purified air, cleansed by the goodness of God, so that they can breathe again themselves.  The Buddhists have a word for this practice – tonglen.  These guys need all of it they can get.

I left the meeting with a heavy heart, knowing that in spite of the enjoyment of the meeting, these two were facing trials that should have precluded their enjoyment of the meeting, but did not.

So this melancholy is not from them, but only because I feel the pain that encompasses them now.  May God bless them both.

A dark playground is a lonely place.  Darkness in our lives can be lonely as well.  We can pray that God shows us his everlasting love.

Ash Wednesday

February 9, 2016
Warning

Warning

As I write this, its about 10:45 pm.  This is much later for me to be awake than is normal, but I’ve got a couple things on my mind.  This barricade is the first one.

My office at the chancery is right across the alley from the Cathedral of St. Mary in Cheyenne.  We have a parking lot behind the office that belongs to the Diocese of Cheyenne, but we lease it out to the state of Wyoming for parking for employees.  A couple times a year, most notably Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we tell the state employees to find other parking accommodations because we need the parking for Mass during the day.  (Good Friday isn’t a Mass, but you get the idea.)

That’s when these barricades go up the night before.  I don’t believe I have ever seen them stuck in snowbanks before, but it is effective in making sure they are seen.  Tomorrow the lot will be filled several times, as Ash Wednesday Mass will be celebrated 5 times before the day is over, and it is likely that each Mass will be full.

That’s not the case for most Sundays.  Sundays have 5 Masses as well, but, while they are well-attended, they don’t get full like they do on Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is, for many parishes, the most well-attended Masses of the year, beating out Christmas and Easter.

Here is the speculation as to why that is.  From a cynical point of view, and Church workers can often be cynical, people come because they get something – a smudged cross on their foreheads.  I think there may be some validity to that, but not a lot.  I do not believe people would be that shallow.  They can get smudged in a lot of places, so they don’t have to go sit in a crowded church for an hour with a bunch of people they don’t know.

My own hypothesis on why Ash Wednesday is so well attended is because people WANT something, something that they can’t get in their everyday not-Church world.

They see the shallowness of their existence without God.  They see that people who are regular church-goers are happier, more fulfilled, and living longer lives.  They see that churchy-types have more substance, more gravitas, than those who always sleep in on Sundays.

The people who show up on Ash Wednesday, who may not have been to Mass in a long, long time, are hungry.  They are hungry for God, they are hungry for the substance that Faith puts in their lives.  They want what the churchies have, and getting Ashes on their foreheads, on a day of fasting and prayer, is one way to get started down that road.

On the other hand, I won’t be going to Mass tomorrow.  No ashes for me for the first time in many, many years.  I can’t remember the last time I missed Ash Wednesday Mass.  Instead, I’ll be in a surgical center in Colorado getting my shoulder fixed.  As far as surgeries go, it’s not a big deal.  15 minutes of instruments repairing some tears, then a few days of recovery.  For me, however, I am more worried than I ought to be.  In an irrational mindset, I am imagining everything going wrong that can, which is why I am awake tapping out these words on my computer.  I asked our bishop to anoint me tonight, which he did, then prayed over me for successful surgery and healing, and guidance for the medical team working on me tomorrow.

I don’t imagine I will post anything tomorrow, but you never know.  It might be funny as I write while under the influence of pain killers.  Still, in that addled state of mind, I might make more sense than I usually do.

Now that I’ve written all this, it occurred to me that the answer to sleep isn’t typing, it’s remembering that I can hand my worries over to God.  He can take care of me, and I can go to sleep.

I won’t have to worry about the crowds in the morning, and some parishioner taking my parking spot, because I won’t be there.  I will, however, be overjoyed that someone tomorrow will come back to the Lord because he/she got  a smeared cross on their forehead.

Mohammed

February 8, 2016

Mohammed

 

I’d like you to meet my friend, Dr. Mohammed Salih.

Mohammed is a retired educator, having taught in universities and community colleges for many years.  Originally from Sudan, he and his family have lived in Cheyenne or a long time.

Mohammed is also the Imam at the Southeast Wyoming Islamic Center in Cheyenne.  He is a gentle man, a scholar, and just a wonderful human being.

Mohammed joined our Bishop, the Rabbi of the local synagogue, and several Protestant pastors who came together for an extraordinary event, an Interfaith Prayer Service.  This is the second year of the Prayer Service, and it occurs on the first day of the Wyoming State Legislative Session.

It took place at St. Mary’s Cathedral, and was attended by members of the Legislature, the Secretary of State, the State Treasurer, the State Auditor, the Superintendent of Public Schools, members of the Supreme Court, the Mayor of Cheyenne, and a good number of the general public.  We all gathered in prayer for the work being done by our lawmakers and all those involved in the apparatus of a representative government.

There were no arguments, no clashes of personalities, no arm-waving displays of dogmatic imperialism.  Rather, this was just a large group of people coming together in prayer, asking for God’s grace and blessing upon their work.

Mohammed was a big part of this.   I’m proud to call him my friend.

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For more pictures of today’s prayer service, go to my SmugMug site.

To see our Bishop’s blog about this event, go here.

February 7, 2016
Look up

Look up

It’s easy to look straight ahead, and to look down as well.  How many times do we look up?

Today Sherry and I went to Mass at St. Joseph’s church in Cheyenne.  I usually don’t take my camera to Mass, but today I wanted some pictures of the pastor, Fr. Carl Gallinger, as he greeted parishioners as they arrived to celebrate the Eucharist.

It was quite cold, and Fr. Carl was braving the wind and meeting his people.  I got the pictures I was looking for, and then I looked up and saw the bell tower and the cross on the very top of the church.

Setting aside the dramatic setting of the cross against the azure sky, this is a fitting illustration of today’s Gospel.  Luke’s last sentence tells us of Simon, James and John “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”

Looking up at a bell tower equating to fisherman leaving their nets may seem a bit of a stretch, but here is my thinking.  The Apostles weren’t expecting Jesus, especially not the full nets they had after the Lord told them to put them in the water.  The cross against the sky was not expected either.  The Apostles dropped everything to follow Jesus.

Well, I guess there really isn’t any clear connection.

I love the cross and the sky, and I really love the last sentence of today’s Gospel.  Maybe it’s just the joy I feel when I see that cross and realize the gift that Jesus gave us.  Maybe it’s the knowledge that the Apostles were willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, and eternal life is mine if I do the same thing.

Lot’s to think about while standing in the cold taking pictures.

Lamb of God

February 5, 2016
Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God

I’ve shown other stained glass windows on these pages, and each time I shoot them I am awestruck by their beauty.  Here’s the really weird thing – This image, and most of the others I have put here, are from my parish church, yet I would be hard pressed to say that I have seen them before.

Today I didn’t even intend to shoot a window.  Rather, I had an idea about a rack of pamphlets and brochures that I thought would be interesting.  When I took that shot, it wasn’t anything I would show to anyone else.  Then as I looked around and saw the light coming through this window, and I knew what I had to do.

Which is ironic.  Or perhaps Providential.  So often when we are looking for something, we just can’t see it, even if it is right in front of us.  Our lives are like that on a regular basis, always looking for something better, a different way.  We are often driven like this because of anger, or despair, or frustration, or hurt.

We scan horizons, we look in books, we search Youtube for answers to all our questions, yet they all leave lingering doubts as to their validity.

Today I was looking for one thing, but found THE thing.  The Lamb of God, Jesus our Lord and Savior, was right in front of me.  This was the brightest window.  Whatever we are looking for, Jesus is the answer.

Keep your eyes peeled, and your heart open.  Jesus is everywhere, and sometimes he is right THERE.

What’s on your desk?

January 26, 2016
My view

My view

We all have hard jobs, and none of us can do them alone.

I have constant reminders on my desk that not only can I not do my job alone, there is no reason for me to think I should do it alone.  These images of the Blessed Mother with the infant Jesus, the Holy Family, and St. Michael the Archangel vanquishing the evil one remind me that I am not alone, and that my prayers are carried to the Lord whenever I ask for that assistance.

Some of my Protestant brothers and sisters hold the mistaken notion that when we have images of Mary, Joseph, the Angels and Saints, that we are committing idolatry because (they believe) we are praying to the images.  That is simply not the case, however, as these images are just reminders of the fact that they are able to help us in our prayers as they intercede with God on our behalf.

Another wonderful aspect of having these images in my office is the sheer artistic beauty of the pieces themselves.  I was given each of these as a gift, and I remember distinctly opening up the package that contained this framed image of Mary and Jesus and weeping. It was such a beautiful, wondrous work of art, making me think of how much Mary loved her son, and how much Jesus and Mary both love me.

I have many images of Mary and Jesus in my office, as well as Angels and Saints, giving me comfort and joy whenever I see them.  Knowing that they see me as I work, working for the glory of God in all I do, makes me content in my labors.

Hard jobs don’t have to be lonely jobs.  We may have been given great responsibilities, but we were never given them with the warning that we were on our own.

Holy Hour – Right to Life Weekend

January 22, 2016

Adoration

Down in Adoration falling,This great Sacrament we hail;
Over ancient forms of worshipNewer rites of grace prevail;
Faith will tell us Christ is present,When our human senses fail.To the everlasting Father,And the Son who made us free,
And the Spirit, God proceedingFrom them Each eternally,
Be salvation, honor, blessing,Might and endless majesty. Amen.

Blessed be God.
Blessed be his holy name.
Blessed be Jesus Christ, true God and true man.
Blessed be the name of Jesus.
Blessed be his most Sacred Heart.
Blessed be his most Precious Blood.
Blessed be Jesus in the most holy sacrament of the altar.
Blessed be the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.
Blessed be the great Mother of God, Mary most holy.
Blessed be her holy and Immaculate Conception.
Blessed be her glorious Assumption.
Blessed be the name of Mary, virgin and Mother.
Blessed be St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse.
Blessed be God in his angels and in his saints.
Amen.

 

 

Workers in the Vineyard

November 12, 2015

Church work requires one to wear a lot of hats.  In my particular role, I have the great pleasure to be one of a team of 4 who put together our Diocesan newspaper, The Wyoming Catholic Register.  We wanted to have a picture of the people who work to serve the pastoral and ministerial needs of 59,000 Catholics in Wyoming.  It is a huge task, and with a staff of 15 full time and 3 part time people, we have our hands full.

Each of these people is completely dedicated to the work they do.  No one does this for the money, because it is just too hard for that.  Rather, each and every one of us works for the glory of God and the growth of our Faith.  I can’t tell you what an incredible blessing it is to work shoulder-to-shoulder and hand-in-hand with everyone here.

Let me introduce you to the other workers in our vineyard:

On the couch:  Connie Kassahn, Tribunal Office; Bishop Paul Etienne; Katie Hayes, Finance Office.

On the arms of the couch: Tammy Skala, Assistant to the Director of Development; Father Carl Gallinger, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish and Vicar General.

In the second row: Father Tom Cronkleton, Pastor of Holy Trinity Parish and Judicial Vicar; Dorene McIntyre, Assistant to the Bishop; Amy Larsen, Associate Director of Pastoral Ministries; Barb Niemann, Finance Office; Alanna Leininger, Assistant to the Legislative Liaison and Receptionist; Jeff Nieters, Finance Officer.

Holding up the backdrop: Pam Miller, Tribunal Office; Your’s Truly, Director of Stewardship and Development; Carol DeLois, Chancellor; Deacon Vernon Dobelmann, Director of Pastoral Ministries; Father Steve Titus, Director of Vocations; Deacon Mike Leman, Legislative Liaison; Larry Holub, Human Resources.

These are my co-workers, my friends.  Thanks be to God for putting me in their midst.untitled shoot-1201 (1)


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