Thursday, March 29, 2012

"Year of Faith" Pilgrimage

You might remember from last year that my teens had to back out of World Youth Day.  The fundraising never came together and we were not able to cover the cost for four teens and mom.  At the time I was very sad, I felt like I had let down my friend Linda.  If you recall one of her dying request was to raise as much money as she could to send as many teens as possible on a pilgrimage.  She knew that a life enriching experience like a pilgrimage could secure a young one's faith.  Linda asked that instead of flowers that people considering giving money to send teens to WYD.  So backing out meant that I was letting Linda down and those that gave money at her funeral. 

After breaking the news to the kids, J and I called our good friend Fr. Tom.  He might be able to help us figure a better trip out.  He had been to Rome many time and loves history almost as much as I do.  I also realized that I wasn't the one that should take these kids but it should be the dads.  Linda was gone and she would want Kat to grow closer to her daddy not to me.  That felt right and Fr. Tom started to work out details with his friend Fr. B.  I admit that I was a little disappointed when they decided to use a travel company instead of just taking the teens and a few dads.  After their research they realized that for the little higher cost of going with a company the opportunities would open up.  Fr. B said that they didn't want to spend the entire time in Italy working out cab rides and going with a group would let them see more in the long run.
Then Fr. Tom was asked by another group of people to lead a group throughout the Franciscan Sites of Italy.  Our two priests realized that they could combine both trips into one great experience for both the teens and those with the love of St. Francis.  They spent months working out details with a travel company.  They really wanted to perfect trip for both groups.  The had to bargain a few times and rework some of the dates but in the end they had this nice trip all set and it was officially announced.
I admit that I was a little worried that there was no way we could make this happen.  It was still going to cost so much.  Then God surprised us with two more babies on the way.  I remember telling Father Tom about being pregnant and he was very happy for us.  Then when we announced it was twins he wanted to make sure it would not interfere with our plans to go to Rome.  Honestly I was very worried but assured him that if it was meant to be it would work out. 

Weeks went by and we knew that we needed to start raising money.  I had no idea where to start.  I was five months pregnant with two babies and scared that being pregnant would in the end keep the kids from going on another trip.  This trip was holding the promise to be perfect for the teens.(click here to see details of the pilgrimage)  I was feeling very down and out running errands when Fr. Tom text me.  He wanted to know if I had seen the latest from the Vatican.  I had no idea what he was referring to.  As it turned out our trip that was already planned with reservations made by the travel company were all set and the Vatican had picked the very day our group was to be in Rome to hold a canonization.  This would make the trip that much more exciting.  At first I was even more sad until Fr. Told me that one of the blessed to become canonized was Kateri Tekakwitha.  When I heard that I just cried and cried.  I knew the trip would work out from that point on. 
You see many years ago with my Sugar was just 3 almost 4 she was playing in her bed.  I heard her and went in her room to let her know she could get up and that nap time was over.  She told me that she didn't want to because she was playing with her Indian friend, Kateri Te-Ke-Wa-Tha.  I told her to have fun and went to the other room for a five minute break to read the local Catholic news paper.  I fell over when I open it to an article all about an Indian girl named Kateri Tekakwitha.  This woman was to be beatified that very weekend.  Our family has had a love of Kateri ever since that time.  Sugar picked her as her saint at Confirmation as well.  So when I heard she was to be canonized I knew that Kateri would make sure Sugar was there.  Why this saint picked my Sugar I will never know but their bond is beautiful and this saint always takes care of Sugar. 

The next week was a rough one baby wise.  I was down in the dumps and feeling very tired when two girlfriends picked me up for breakfast.  It was such a nice surprise and they both wanted to hear all about the trip.  When I finished telling them about the Kateri aspect of the story they both admitted that they wanted to send their teens as well.  After thinking about it a few minutes I realized that there really wasn't a reason why they couldn't join in.  I am so thankful they did because they were bringing a new energy with them.
We met the next weekend to discuss fundraising.  One idea that kept coming up was to sell Easter Lilies door to door in the two weeks before Easter.  I thought this was insane.  I tried to change the flower a dozen times, thinking that if we ended up with left overs we could work on selling them for Mother's day.  I was assured that it had to be lilies and I had to let it go.  I was nervous about investing tons of money into Easter Lilies when my family did not ever have them as a traditional Easter decoration.  I had to let go and trust my friends.  Plans were set, flowers ordered and signs needed to me made.  While trying to decide what to put on a poster to advertise our fundraiser, I was hit like a ton of bricks for a second time.  Kateri was at it again.  If you know anything about Kateri, you might know that her nick name is "LILY OF THE MOHAWKS".  Yep she is referred to as a Lily, this fundraiser was her doing.  I just needed to do the leg work and let Kateri do the rest.  She wants Sugar there, she really is our family friend, I hope she knows how much we love her.  I do hope that when I die and get to Heaven that she will tell me how and why she picked Sugar to spoil so much. 

So to update after weekend one of fundraising.  Each teen sold 50 lily plants by going door to door.  I know next weekend will go just as well when we get our second batch of 50 lilies each.  This will make a huge dent into what each kiddos owes the travel company.  I used to not think it would happen but the deposits of each kiddo was turned in and it is official.  I know in my heart that this October I will be sending off J, Goobers, Bear and Sugar with Mr. T and Kat and 4 more friends.  They will meet Fr. Tom and Fr. B and head to Venice and then see some St. Francis sites, the group will end in Rome and see some very hold people recognized as Saints by our Holy Catholic Church.  One of those people is Kateri and she has a special love for Sugar.  Maybe Linda and Kateri are working together to make this all happen.  These kids and their dads are in for a wonderful treat.
While we work our way through 200 more Easter Lilies this weekend, you will forgive me if I greet you with, "Wanna buy an Easter Lily?"  Thank you to everyone that has.  My kiddos are that much closer to their pilgrimage.

1 comment:

  1. This is so very beautiful!!! I'm so excited for your older kiddos that get to go.. I'm so sorry for using the word "so"!!! :)

    What an incredible story you gave me goosebumps.

    I'll tell you something that I've only told a select few others...for fear of people thinking I'm crazy. (I'm over that pretty much!). When I was about 9 or 10 years old, I woke up to see the Blessed Mother sitting on my bed. I had a short conversation with her. I was not fearful at all. It was only when I went to hug her good night that my arms swept thru the "empty" air and I felt confusion.

    Had I really seen and talked to Our Lady? Was I dreaming? Was I going crazy?

    For years, I never told a soul...but I vowed on that very night that if I ever had a daughter, I would name her after and dedicate her to our Lord's Blessed Mother.

    I know those who are non-believers will think our stories are crazy, but for those of us that "know better" they are faith-affirming stories of how much God loves us and is always communicating with us.

    Love you and your sweet family!!!



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