Saturday, December 17, 2011

Walking For Assumption

Well, it’s been a long time since the last post . . . here we are coming to late Advent and I haven’t blogged! But maybe you heard about the reason why I was delayed.

I took a little walk last month! Actually, it was a rather big walk—a walk from Assumption Church in Peekskill to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Every step in support of Assumption School. And, right at the outset, I need to thank everyone who supported me with their prayers, their love and their donations and pledges. At the time of this writing, we have raised approximately $60,000.00 and the gifts keep coming! We couldn’t be more grateful. I need to thank Will Taylor for walking with me the entire way and, Tom Turner, Jim Brooks (who acted as paparazzo for the event snapping the pictures you see below) and, my brother Priest, Father Vincent, who walked with me from St. Joseph’s Seminary to the steps of the Cathedral.

Here’s a video clip of Day Two – from Jim Brooks:

Now, a few thoughts from along the way…

The inspiration for this walk came when I received an e-mail from a friend requesting support for her young family’s participation in a walk-a-thon for Birthright. I was so moved by this simple request and the love it represented—that the entire family would literally be “walking the walk”—for their love of the unborn, that I just had to make a pledge. And, so I got to thinking, what if I decided to take a walk of my own? What if I took my love of Assumption School to the streets? Would people respond to my simple act of love?

Within seconds of sending out my own e-mail, I started to get my answer. Pledges and donations began pouring in at an overwhelming rate. Messages of kindness, love, inspiration and prayer were almost too numerous to count. And, before my feet ever hit the pavement, I knew this pilgrimage had become something much larger than I ever had the capacity to envision!

Then came the day, the hour, the 5am Mass that would fittingly start the long journey. And, as I laced up my sneakers and began to head off along the pre-dawn road, I couldn’t help but think about Jesus and all the walks He took in his short time here on Earth.

In a world full of cynicism, Jesus walked to bring optimism. In a world devoid of hope, Jesus walked to bring joy. In a world full of suffering, Jesus walked to bring healing. In a world full of hate, Jesus walked to bring love. Jesus walked.

As a Catholic Priest, I am called to act in persona Christi (in the person of Christ), most especially during the Sacraments but, it is important to note that we are all called to be “other Christs” for the people in our lives, to imitate Him as we make our way in the world. We are all called to take our own “walk” toward Christ—our own pilgrimage of love.

Sometimes that journey will be easy, filled with consolation and peace. Other times, that road will be steep and we will need every ounce of strength to get up that hill; we’ll feel alone and unworthy and it won’t be our feet that do the walking but our faith!

But we all must do it; we are a called to do it—to make our own pilgrimage to His heart.

It doesn’t have to look like my pilgrimage or anyone else’s, in fact, it must be yours and yours alone for that is what He asks, that is what He wants.

Last week, Sacred Scripture gave us some clues on how to go about it. We were reminded to be faithful and attentive to small matters, to use all of our talents-even the least of what we have, our smallest steps—to make Him known to others, to glorify Him. St. Therese (to whom our school students prayed for financial assistance) invites us to explore her “Little Way” taking on every task, even the smallest, with great love.

It seems the most difficult part of any journey is often taking the first step. (A young mother once told me, the most challenging part of heading out for a day of errands was literally getting out the door!) But, when we take our first steps toward Him we should do so with assurance, confident that He will be waiting for us with open arms!

So, I invite you to begin your own journey to Him, make your own way to His heart and take those first steps right here with us in Catholic Peekskill!

Note: For more information on the “105K for 105 Years Campaign for Assumption School” and how you can help, please contact Audrey Warn, Director of Advancement at 914-737-0680 ext. 201 or feel free to make checks payable to Assumption School, 920 Monsignor Ansbro Way, Peekskill, NY 10566. All donations are tax-deductible.