STANDING WITH ME by Deacon Tony Martucci

I awoke Christmas Day and went to St. Pius X to assist  the Masses at 10 AM and Noon. After cleaning up and locking the Church, I went home to see my family and prepare for Christmas dinner.  All seemed perfectly normal, until we sat down to eat. Suddenly I didn’t feel well, was nauseous and excused myself. I sat in the living room and felt a sharp burning pain in my lower abdomen. Thinking it was a kidney stone, I put up with the pain for the rest of the day. I didn’t watch the kids open their presents, and was not a very good host.

Family went home; I took Aleve and went to bed. Dec. 26 the pain was muted, but came and went throughout the day. “Call the Doctor,” said Pat. I toughed it out for another day. Dec. 27, pain was intermittent, but I saw blood in my stool and called the urologist, still thinking it was a kidney stone. He saw me at 1:30 PM, determined it wasn’t a stone and sent me to the ER.

I met Pat in the ER (it was her last day of work, having resigned from the VA). By 4:30 PM, they had begun my triage in the ER. After a series of tests and CAT scans, the doctor told me  at 8:30  PM that I needed surgery. I asked about being transferred to Jersey Shore MC. The doctor asked if I knew a surgeon there, I answered NO. He explained that it would take time to forward the paperwork, find a surgeon and have the operation.

I asked, “How soon do I need the surgery?” The doctor simply looked at his watch, and I knew I was in trouble.  The surgeon was called and was at Community within a half hour. I was prepped and in surgery at 10:15 PM until 1:30 AM. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis, and a three inch hole in my colon that leaked into my intestines. They removed 8 inches of colon and gave me a temporary colostomy.

Meanwhile Pat had made a few calls for prayers, and I was immediately on the hotline for Cursillo, Diaconate, Church and family. My son, Pete, my brother Frank and Fr. Jay joined Pat in the waiting room. When the surgeon came out after the operation he told the family I had a 50/50 chance of recovery. He also told them to go home since I was still under the anesthesia. They all left except my son Pete who wanted to see me before he went home. Miraculously I came out of the anesthesia before they brought me to recovery. As they wheeled me out, I saw Pete and gave him the ‘thumbs up’. He smiled and a tear rolled down his cheek.

The next day, I saw the surgeon and thanked him for saving my life. “Not yet,” he responded. Over the next several weeks I received cards, phone calls and visitors all saying they were praying for me. Those who were helping me in the hospital could hardly believe the rapid recovery I was making. I felt the power of those prayers but I was so humbled by the love and comments of so many people. Sadly, most people don’t realize the impact they have on others. At their wake, the family is told about the little things that they had done or said that made a difference. I have been blessed to have received that love at my 25th Jubilee and now in my illness.

Every day in my prayers, I lift up all of you who have shared in my recovery- the doctors, nurses, techs, prayer warriors and family. I ask God to send his blessings and graces upon all of you.

On the lighter side: As you may know Pat & I were scheduled to lead a tour to Israel from Jan. 9- 16. On the day after surgery, a Eucharistic Minister from St. Barnabas entered my room. Her name is Peggy Cheselka, sister of Mary Weis. They were pilgrims going with us to the Holy Land. The nurse was in my room when Peggy entered and asked, “Are you the Anthony Martucci who is going to the Holy Land?” The poor nurse almost passed out, thinking that Peggy was saying I was going to ‘heaven- the Holy Land’. 
Another source of humor and embarrassment was the fact that the nurses couldn’t believe that I am 70.  They talked about it at report, and I often had nurses and doctors come into my room to see me. One doctor returned to the nurses’ station and said that I even looked younger than one of his co-workers, which didn’t go over so well with the co-worker.

As I look back over this ordeal, I give thanks to God for all of the wonderful events He set in motion for this trial. I was able to get to the hospital and the surgeon in time. One day later may have been too late. The attack occurred here in the US, not in Israel two weeks later- what a nightmare that could have been.  I was in fairly good health, considering the seriousness of the illness and was able to fight the infection. I cannot say enough about the nurses, doctors and staff at Community Hospital. They were there each time I needed them, going beyond their duty. I am sure God was inundated with prayers from my communities and friends like the unjust judge in the parable who gave in to the widow and her persistence.  God must have sent Raphael to heal and protect me.

Thank you to all of you for standing with me and for your prayers. God bless you and keep you safe in His love.

SCHOOL OF LEADERS RECAP by Ronnie Martella, Assistant Lay Director

We are gifted with so much from our loving God; life, family, friends, the chance to share our walk with the Lord with each other.  January School of Leaders was an excellent example of all of that.  We gathered for the first time in 2013, wishing each other- Happy New Year *and despite many things about which we are concerned, worried, perhaps even fearful...there is much to support our wish of happiness.  Primary among them--God in our midst--the God of whom Sister Clara spoke at December School of Leaders in her talk on the Incarnation in which she encouraged us to go deeper into that belief and understanding and urged us to a greater awareness of what God has done for us.

With that in mind, and encouraged to open ourselves to the possibility that there is something we have yet to hear, learn, know, understand and/or embrace, we started 2013 with a reflection on The Beatitudes.  Sister Simon's talk, focused this School on the first four Beatitudes, took each one and showed us how they not only built, one on the other, but how being poor in spirit is the foundation.  It is the awareness that we cannot save ourselves and that letting go of self opens the door for so much more.

Hilare Reinold's talk on being peacemakers started by quoting Pope Benedict's New Year's message, the theme of which was "Blessed are the Peacemakers"  In that message Pope Benedict said "Man is made for the peace which is God’s gift. All of this led me to draw inspiration for this Message from the words of Jesus Christ: ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Mt 5:9)” (Message, 1). This beatitude “tells us that peace is both a messianic gift and the fruit of human effort...'" The fruit of human effort, what a challenge!  And Hilare took that challenge and wove it together with the tools we rely on in Cursillo...Piety, Study and Action.  Here is just one from each, of the many thoughts and ideas Hilare shared.

Piety- we need to take, make, allow for the time to be with God to allow ourselves to be molded as peacemakers.

Study- we can "pray the newspaper" by reading it and as we do think about that environment-pray for those involved, consider taking action.

Action-prayer of course and consider becoming involved in something that will bring about a change in the world, a change for peace.

So much in such a short time.  School of Leaders is such an incredible place.  In two hours there is fellowship, laughter, sharing-faith and more, prayer, singing, learning, uplifting others and being uplifted, refreshment for the body, soul and spirit.

Please join us in February when Sister Simon will complete the Beatitudes. It will be a gift to community and to yourself!


Beloved Cursillistas,

David and I wish you all a Blessed, Happy and Healthy New Year!  As this message was written on January 1, 2013,  these are the thoughts which came to mind.  At morning Mass:  To paraphrase Albert Switzer:  All that happens in World history is based on something "spiritual"...if the spiritual is strong, it creates world history, if the spiritual is weak it suffers from world history.  In another of his quotes ....we meet HIM there beside the Sea of Galilee and HE sets us to the task for our time. 
The Cursillo in Christianity created world history when over 70,000 pilgrims arrived, in a State of Grace, at St. James in Spain to a greeting from the Pope and then this rag tag band of brothers resolved to "pass it on" to future the whole world!   How blessed we cursillistas are to have received this dynamic, articulate and authentic message. 
Who were these men?  Scholars, scientists, saints, wouldn't it doubfound the mighty to realize that a simple youth group decided to take "Catholic Action" and dare to believe that with God all things really are possible?  They had the answer to all the ills and questions of the world.  It was the person of Jesus Christ; and they knew two important secrets.....the spiritual must be strong and NOW is the appointed time, now, the precious present...."our time", to do the Will of God. 
As we begin again our 4th day journey in the year 2013, may we remember the dream which began our movement almost 70 years ago.  A dream inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and carried out by a group of young people who truly believed that all things are possible with God.  Beloved Cursillistas then as now....Christ is counting on us.
forever DeColores!
mary ann xo


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