A Journey of Faith Part 4 - Finding a Home Again

I have (for quite some time now) wanted to document my personal journey of faith.  How I became who I am today in an attempt to try and understand my faith.  I started by doing just that.  I sat down, and wrote out my personal journey of faith.

I know people choose to “evangelize” by sharing their journey.  That is not my mission.  I am not writing these posts to convert.  I am not writing these posts to persuade.  I am not writing these posts to influence.  I AM writing these posts (first and foremost) for myself. 

Previous entries in this series...

A Journey of Faith Part 1 - An Introduction
A Journey of Faith Part 2 – The Early Years
A Journey of Faith Part 3 – Transitions

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By this time in my life, my core beliefs and values were all pretty much set, and I was comfortable with my “faith”.

I met the Mother of Five while in college. She and I share a similar family and religious background. During the three years we were dating, The Mother of Five had moved to Mankato for school while I finished my education here in the Twin Cities. Once I completed my degree and “Skills Training”, I rented my own apartment and moved to Mankato to be closer to her (“my own” as in we did not live together). While there we attended two different parishes –St. Peter & Paul and St. Joseph the Worker. During this time the feeling of familiarity, recognition and connection I once felt started weaning.

We moved back to the metro area, and shortly thereafter married at St. Peter’s in Richfield. This was meaningful because it was her family (and my grandmother’s) parish. We moved into our first apartment together and joined St. John Neumann in Eagan.  St. John Neumann was the only parish that I really did not care much for.  There was no particular reason for me not liking it – I think I finally gave up trying to feel as connected to my parish as I did growing up.

Accross the street!

After our first year of marriage, we bought our first house.  It was located in Richfield, Minnesota.  Richfield has three Catholic Churches in the city limits…  There was St. Peter (where we were married), Assumption, and St. Richard’s (that we lived (literally) across the street from).  The three churches also combined their schools into one. 

#1 of 5 (now 23 years old) was enrolled into Blessed Trinity and also went to school across the street (his grade level was located in the St. Richard’s campus). Despite the proximity of St. Richards we still attended St. Peter’s (3 miles away).  I considered it my “home” parish.  St. Richards was our “we are running late” or “convenience” church.


Having the connection we did with St. Peter’s (my grandma’s parish, my in-law’s parish, having been married there, and having a child enrolled in the school) the feeling of being “connected” with my parish started returning.

Coming soon:  A Journey of Faith Part 5 –Troubled Waters

Washington DC or Bust!

Bonus surprise at the bottom of this post!

I have not yet mentioned much about this, but today is the day #2 of 5 headed out on a whirlwind adventure!
Last year #2 of 5 came home from school with a packet of information about an upcoming school sponsored “WorldStrides” (Educational Student Travel) trip that his Social Studies teacher was hosting. 
Before I go much further, let me explain something.  Keeping #2 of 5 focused on anything that does not have a “Xbox 360” label on it (or anything video game related for that matter) is difficult at best.  “Social Studies” (more specifically, American History) has been the one school subject that seems to have piqued (and maintained) a modicum of his interest and attention (while maintaining an “acceptable” grade without having to torture him to do so).
The trip that he wanted to talk to us about… Washington DC.

That seemed natural enough, given his interest in all things “American History”.  We carefully weighed the options (and cost), ultimately deciding to enroll him in the trip.  That was a year ago.  A lot has passed since we made that decision.  It almost drifted out of our thoughts, but not long after the bill was paid, the emails and notes home started showing up, and the trip that almost drifted out of our thoughts began to approach reality. 

Then came the parent meeting (previously mentioned in the I need Two of Me post), which changed our focus from “reality-mode” to “scramble to get ready-mode”.  Digging out the luggage, packing, stocking up on supplies, cash for his trip, spare Cellular phone charger, new camera, etc, etc, etc.  This all went on during an unusually busy work-week for me.  Things got a little hectic – but (in the end) I think he was all ready to go. 
Honestly, I think I was more worked up about his being ready that he was.
So, at 0230 hours this morning, our alarm clock rang and (despite my numerous offers to get up and take him so she could sleep in) the Mother of Five braved the world of 3am to get him delivered to the chaperones and coach bus waiting to whisk him off to his impending adventure.  (Honestly, I think she WANTED to take him herself…)

I had a confirmation text message (only after sending him one first) confirming that they arrived (safely) in Milwaukee, and another one (also only after my sending him one first) confirming his (safe) arrival in Washington DC.

From there, the kids have a BUSY schedule planned….  Below is a list of the things they are going to be seeing.
Day 1 to include - Library of Congress (as a photo stop), the Supreme Court (as a photo stop), the U.S. Capitol Visitor’s Center, the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, and Kennedy Center,
Day 2 to include - the Embassy Row, the National Zoo, the National Cathedral, Ford’s Theater, Arlington National Cemetery (with special stops at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, and the Kennedy Gravesites), and the September 11th Memorial.
Day 3 to includeMount Vernon, the Union Station, the Holocaust Museum, theAlbert Einstein Memorial, and the evening spent at the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Women’s Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Iwo Jima Marine War Memorial, and finally the World War II Memorial.
Day 4 to include – The White House (as a photo stop), the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of American History, and one final stop at the Natural History Museumbefore heading back to the airport, and back home.
In addition to the historic landmarks listed above – they will have a couple of different dining experiences.  In addition to a couple of food court stops, and hotel breakfasts, they will be dining at the Air and Space Café, an Old Country Buffet, a Sizzling Express, and a Vie De France,
As you can see, it is going to be a whirlwind four days.  I expect him to come home very tired, and a little bit more knowledgeable about U.S. History (after all, I better get SOMETHING for the $$ I shelled out, right?). 


Here is “bonus” as promised…


The best part of all of this (for me) is that since I cannot be there to experience this trip myself (first hand) – I have “persuaded” (and I am using that term loosely) #2 of 5 to write a “Guest Blogger” post (or two) about his trip here on The Life of a Father of Five!!

I’m so very excited!!

I Need Two of Me

Last night was a prime example of one of the more challenging aspects of parenting a “larger” family.  Between three of the five children, we had one activity, four “parent meetings”, and one meeting of my own to attend.  To make it even more tricky, most of these events were clustered into two (simultaneous) groupings. 

The events included, #5 of 5’s dance class, #2 of 5’s High School Registration for next school year, #2 of 5’s drivers ed parent meeting, #2 of 5’s impending school sponsored trip to Washington DC parent meeting, #2 and #3 of 5’s monthly Boy Scout Troop parent meeting, and finally a union meeting at work for me.

We took the “tag team” approach.  While the Mother of Five ran #2 of 5 to High School Registration, I took #5 of 5 to dance.  Thankfully, one of her friends parents was able to take her back home for us, so I was able to get her unpacked, ballet slippers on, and settled into class before I rushed out to meet the Mother of Five and #2 of 5 for the driver’s ed parent meeting.

Once the drivers ed meeting was complete I had fifteen minutes spare time before the start of the Washington DC trip parent meeting.  Of course those fifteen minutes were used to rush home for the paperwork I had neglected to bring along.  I was only a few minutes late meeting the Mother of Five and #2 of 5 at DC trip meeting.

Since the DC trip is a “single event” (and contained some fairly important information) we decided it was best if we both attended. I agreed.  This caused us to miss the first half the monthly Boy Scout Troop parent meeting meeting.  I make almost every one of those, so I did not feel too bad missing half of this one.  As soon as the DC trip meeting adjourned I rushed down the hall (thankfully they were held in the same facility) and joined in the Boy Scout Troop parent meeting (already in progress).

By the time I had gotten home from the DC Trip / Boy Scout meetings, the union meeting had already started.  Adding the time it would take me to get to work, I suspect that the meeting would have already concluded, so I chose to forgo trying to attend that.

In the end, I managed to attend four of the six events I needed to (or should have) attended.  That’s 67%.  Hmmm.. I think that would be a D- on a report card (if not an F).  Thankfully, between the Mother of Five and I (together and separately) we were able to pull off an A attend (at least part of) all six events.

I’ve been told there will come a day and a time that I will miss all this…  I have to wonder about that.

Don’t Stop Believin’ (but please stop calling)

Having engaged in a bit of Facebook “cacophony” with my buddy AtHomeDaddy recently, I was reminded of a short little story I had planned on sharing, but had forgotten all about…

Now that #2 of 5 is a full fledged “high schooler” he is attending more school activities and functions – like last month’s “Frosty Fun Days Dance”.

The night of the dance the Mother of Five had to work, and I had to be up at 2am for a 4am shift assignment.  Needless to say I was in a hurry to drop #2 of 5 off at the dance and rush home to head off to bed.  When going to bed that early, it’s often hard to (initially) fall asleep, so I was both grateful and thankful that this evening.  Sleep did find me, and least until…

>>RING<<  >>RING<<  The sound of my cell phone. 

I could not turn off the phones because I needed to be available “just in case of an emergency”, and so when I looked at my cell phone (displaying #2 of 5’s name) – I got a little worried.  My “Hello?” was answered with the unmistakable sounds of a loud party or dance.  Loud music, loud voices, but no voice back.  I gave another “Hello”, this time a little louder.  Still nothing.  One last “HELLO?!?!?” that was met with nothing more that the ambient background noise of a teenage dance, and it was “third strike, yer out”.  Dang pocket dials.  I deal with them ALL DAY LONG at work…

What?  My cell phone dialed 911?  How did that happen???

I rolled over and tried to get back to sleep.  Just as I was reaching that point where I could feel myself falling asleep…

>>RING<<  >>RING<<  The sound of my cell phone…  Again. 

Again, it was #2 of 5’s name on the caller I.D.  Fearing he could not hear me the first time and still needed to get in touch with me, I jumped up and grabbed the phone.  My three attempts to say hello were all followed with northing more than the sounds of the dance going on.  By this time I can almost feel the sleepiness bidding me a fond farewell.  An extended shift on 2 or 3 hours of sleep is not a lot of fun (believe me!).  I attempt to roll over and go back to sleep.

Just as sleepiness and I started getting reacquainted (about thirty minutes later) my cell phone rings again, and again it’s #2 of 5’s number on the I.D.  This time, I only give him one ”Hello”, with no answer when the idea struck me.

I decided to use this opportunity like any good sneaky Dad would do!

I decided to listen in and see what sort of “juice” I could pick up.  Who knows what knowledge I could obtain?!?!  I placed my cell phone on my ear as I laid my head back on the pillow, and proceeded to try and obtain any useful tidbits.

Do you know what I heard??

As I listened, I realized I was listening to nearly two hundred teenagers singing screaming along as the D.J. spun the 1980’s hit “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” by Journey.

Ugh….  Gag me with a spoon!

As the song finished (and before the DJ spun another cheezy mega wonder hit from one of the many nauseating 1980’s  stadium rock bands) I hung up. 

I hung up, but with a smile on my face, remember all the roller skating, and school and youth group dances I attended listening to that same song.  I hope #2 of 5 is having as much fun as I did when I was his age.

A Journey of Faith Part 3 - Transitions

I have (for quite some time now) wanted to document my personal journey of faith.  How I became who I am today in an attempt to try and understand my faith.  I started by doing just that.  I sat down, and wrote out my personal journey of faith.

I know people choose to “evangelize” by sharing their journey.  That is not my mission.  I am not writing these posts to convert.  I am not writing these posts to persuade.  I am not writing these posts to influence.  I AM writing these posts (first and foremost) for myself. 

Previous entries in this series...

A Journey of Faith Part 1 - An Introduction
A Journey of Faith Part 2 – The Early Years

============================================================

Transitions

After graduating eighth grade at Nativity, my parents were fortunate enough to be able to afford my enrollment at The Academy of the Holy Angels high school. NYG BWCA trip

It was also a time that our parish had a successful and thriving Youth Group program for kids in grades 9-12. Initially, it was not the "Youth Group" that really interested me, but it was their annual Boundary Waters Canoe trip that I really wanted to attend. Somewhere along the line I ran into a friend of mine from Nativity (who also attended AHA). I knew he was going on the BWCA trip, so I asked him for more information. Not only did he urge me go on the trip, but he suggested that I start attending Youth Group so I could start to meet the other Youth Groupers who were going. I had my initial reservations but in the end I decided to attend.  Looking back, I find that this decision being another one of the defining moments in my life.

John, me, Joe, GregI began attending Nativity's Youth Group, and over the next four years, NYG (as it was affectionately referred to) became my second family.  (I still stay in touch with some of the closest friends I made during my involvement in NYG.)

My spiritual journey through these years was assisted in ways that I did not even realize at the time by our youth minister.  He had a way of blending (maybe even “hiding”) the right amount of faith based education into fun and activities for the youth of our Parish.  He had a unique personality that allowed him to be a mentor while at the same time being someone I could consider a friend. He left an indelible mark on an impressionable young man that can still be seen within me to this day.

It was during my involvement in NYG that I connected on a personal level with our parish priest who had been our pastor for many years. Through my years at Nativity School and through alter serving – I became familiar with him, and I suspect he would have been able to recognize me by face, but there was a moment in time that our priest became something more than “just” the church’s pastoral officiant in my eyes.  We connected on a personal level.

Our priest was moving residences, and was looking for some assistance. He turned to the Youth Minister (and the Youth Group) for some volunteer “muscle”. I was one of three or four members who stepped up and volunteered to help him move.  After spending the day with him(away from formal setting of our church) – and helping him get situated in his new residence, I was able to see him as more than “that guy up front” at mass on Sunday. I got to know him as a person. As someone I could approach, say hello to, and have a conversation with. For the first time in my life, I really felt comfortable speaking to a priest. Getting to know our parish priest in this way helped give the Church a more “personal” feel.

After high school graduation and into the college years - my involvement in our church continued. In addition to my involvement in the Youth Group (now as a chaperone for the BWCA trips and helping out our new Youth Minister from time to time) I filled a seat on one of the parish committees, filled in as temporary “collection counter”, and even ran for the seat on the Parish Council reserved for the young adults of the congregation (unfortunately, I came in a close second).

As the old saying goes… “Time and tide wait for no man”, and soon my “youth” and “young adulthood” transformed into the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood.

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