Saturday, January 25, 2014

FROM THE ARCHIVE: I REMEMBER by BOB LEONE, TRENTON 9

In just a few months I will celebrate the 25th year of my Cursillo weekend in October of 1973, at Divine Word Seminary. Years have passed by and I am so thankful for that weekend when my life was turned around 180 degrees and when “I Made a ‘U’ Turn to Heaven”. Praise be to God!!!

As a young boy between the ages of 10 to 11, I used to ride past Divine Word on Saturdays during the school year and weekdays in the summer. Of course, it was not Divine Word Seminary at the time and little did I know that one day I would come to know Jesus as my Lord & Savior there on Park Street. My two uncles, my mother’s brothers, had a grocery store and meat market in Fieldsboro, NJ, just a couple of miles south of Bordentown, and I worked there summers and Saturdays during school time. Even then God had a plan for my life!

As an “old timer” in Cursillo, many of you have heard my testimony but I would like to share some of it with the newcomers.

When I was sponsored for Cursillo by my “kid brother, Joe”, God prepared my heart in such a way that I was ready to take in whatever was to be offered me on the 3 days. My brother had asked me to be patient and allow the weekend to unravel and not be discouraged.

I remember being greeted by my brother Matt Stap at the entrance and he bid me “Welcome to The Cursillo Hilton”. I thought that was so nice of Matt, a really fine brother in the Lord. I felt most welcome by the team members and all went quite well as the rollos started on Friday morning. The first celebration of the Eucharist was so warm and meaningful to me and it aroused a beautiful feeling of God’s presence among us. As the day went on I began to feel a bit of discomfort brought on because of the guitar playing. I was from the old school and thought guitars were out of place in Church. And so, for Friday and most of Saturday I felt a change coming over me which concerned me because I was starting to enjoy all that was taking place, even the guitars! Then there were the hugs, which at first I thought were out of place, but then really enjoyed them and the warmth I felt in my heart because they were genuine, a feeling I had never experienced before. I thought to myself, how am I going to explain all of this when I get home?

Finally, by Saturday night I was not concerned at all about what was happening to me, all the changes, and, as the saying goes, “I let it all hang out!”. I was convinced that what was taking place was most beneficial to my soul and well-being. Saturday night was so much fun with the skits. Everybody was roaring including yours truly!

On Sunday morning in the Chapel, Father Bob Schultz, one of the Spiritual Directors, played the most beautiful song recorded by the Monks of Weston Priory, “Hosea”, and something inside of me burst and my heart was broken through the great love of My Lord Jesus, The One Who died in my place on the cross at Calvary. Beyond that, another song continued the tremendous flow of tears, the song about “And Then Comes the Morning”. The tears were tears of joy and I was washed clean by the precious blood of The Spotless Lamb of God, Jesus!

Right then and there, I knew I was that brand new creation which St. Paul writes about in 2 Cor. 5:17. “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation”. When I returned to my workplace on Monday many people recognized the change that had taken place and I was able to witness them as to how Jesus had become my Lord and Savior and that I would never be the same as I was before. I was able to work faster and with more joy.

Some 16 months later, a couple of months after my 60th birthday, I was retired by the company where I had worked for 24 years. I was blessed with many great fringe benefits but I had no idea where I was going from there. However, I knew that God had a special plan for the rest of my life and it was revealed to me just 5 days later when I met a prison chaplain at Leaders’ School, who asked for volunteers for prison ministry. I got right out of my seat and signed up! It was truly the power of The Holy Spirit that moved me and I knew it was a decision from The Lord! That was 23 years ago last March 5th. Prison ministry has been a most joyful part of my Christian life.

In the summer of 1977 I was interviewed by a man on Christian radio who hosted a broadcast called “The Searchlight”. After a few more guest appearances he asked me to fill in for him during his vacation. Finally he was ordained a minister with his own Church to Pastor and he offered me the broadcast, which I have been blessed to host for over 20 years. I have been blessed to have met so very many people involved with the prison system in various states. Men and women in prison who listen in write to me and encourage us with their prayers and letters.

For many years now we have been doing a “radio rollo” on Saturday mornings, greeting the people on Cursillo weekends, Tres Dies weekends, and Kairos weekends in prison. It has been such a joy for us and the many people who have come on the broadcast as guests and guest hosts when I have been on vacation. The Lord has sent so many wonderful people into my life and I have been encouraged and enriched far beyond my understanding. I give Him all the praise and surely all the glory!!! DeColores!

Bob Leone, Trenton #9


This article was reprinted from the June/July 1998 Good News Bulletin. We miss you, Bob!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

CURSILLO UPDATES (INCLUDING WEEKEND POSTPONEMENT) FROM OUR LAY DIRECTOR, RONNIE MARTELLA

Sisters and brothers in Christ,

If anyone were to ask for an example of the Cursillo community in the diocese of Trenton, I'd love to be able to show them a video of Friday night's School of Leaders.  Better still to have been able to have them there.  The Holy Spirit is always with us but there are some times when we are open and bubbling over with Christian joy that the Spirit is literally visible.  That was Friday night. So it seemed contradictory to announce to community that the Men's weekend-scheduled for Feb 27 to March 2- has been postponed.  There were only a few definite yes responses. But I believe that God's plan for us is unfolding and when we look and listen, we'll see what He wants us to learn and ultimately do.  

At last November's School of Leaders we remembered the Cursillistas who have died and many shared a certain special connection with one or more of those people.  That, along with the women's team sendoff, was a very touching indicator of how strong the bonds between us go, how deep the love.  In December we heard witness from the three Amigos from the weekend. Each woman shared in her own way what formation, the weekend and the movement meant to them.  And this past Friday Rick asked us each to introduce ourselves and say, if we remembered, our table name from our original weekend.  Again there was sharing about weekend themes, table names, people- some who have died and some with us, some who were in that room Friday night- the people who touched us, taught us, moved us, inspired us, challenged us, opened us up-sometimes in child like ways, to God and the love and life God wants us to have. Over and over, beautiful, tender witnesses to the bond we share.  And to what brings us together, unites us and keeps us going -  our belief in and love of our God -  always at the core of our life and our relationships.

Sister Simon shared a talk entitled "Do whatever He tells you".  She shared how those words from Mary form a prayer, a framework from which we can go about life.  We can grow into God's will as Mary did and learn that we are part of the family and we, like Mary, are called to recognize our part and place in that family.  We join together as that family to do whatever He tells us.

Rick then spoke about being challenged to get out of his comfort zone, to move beyond the level of involvement he has with others and shared his son John's involvement in the Newman Club at college.  The young people there speak of being disciples in the most natural way -  what a joy to hear about young people alive and involved in their faith! We can learn from them.

Rick spoke about Paul's letter to the church at Corinth in which he reminded them they are called to be holy and united in the same purpose.  Rick told us all we are necessary. Necessary to him and to the movement but most importantly, necessary to God.  He offered a tool to focus us on one of our 4th day's most important activities, the study of our environment.  He suggested we write down the names of the person/people with whom we would like to establish and/or deepen a relationship.  Having the names written down can make the idea of personal contact and growing discipleship clearer and more real for us.   Someone suggested posting them on the refrigerator so they'd be seen often!

The weekend had to be postponed and it is disappointing.  But we can take that and use it to recommit ourselves.  We can be refreshed and reminded about who we are, what we are called to, what we have said in our pastoral plan we believe we can and are called to do.   There is a link, in the upper right hand corner, of the website to the pastoral plan if you'd like to download and read it.  I'll also be addressing some of the elements of the plan in the future, especially as they connect with what Sister Simon and Rick shared.

On Friday night, as we closed with prayer, Rick committed us at School of Leaders to prayer as a community for upcoming weekends, teams and candidates.  Let us join our personal prayer and palanca to that of the community gathered together for God's guidance and inspiration.  Jesus and us-an unbeatable combination!

DeColores and ULTREYA!
Ronnie

P.S. If you would like to see an uplifting short video on the Newman Center at Montclair State University that Rick spoke about, click here.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

FOR YOUR THOUGHT FROM OUR DEACON SPIRITUAL ADVISOR, DEACON TONY MARTUCCI

The Magi looked to the stars and found the Star that told them a new King was born. After a long, dangerous and arduous journey, they found Christ with Mary and Joseph in the house in Nazareth. They found Him because they were looking for Him.

Have you ever put on a jacket or coat, or picked up a purse that you haven’t used in long time and found a few dollars in it that you forgot that you had? Like the woman who found her lost coin, you’re ready to celebrate. When that happened to me, I thought that somehow God has given me a blessing. How amazing that we can often see God’s hand in the good things that happen to us, but when we fall on hard times we may think that God is far away! Yet even in our darkest times, God loves us and turns everything to good for those who love Him.

This year, Pat & I have been on a roller coaster since my first surgery in December 2012. Many people commented that we don’t deserve to suffer like this, as though we are too good to have something like this happen to us. My Lord Jesus was sinless and loved everyone, yet they spat on Him, beat Him, nailed Him to a cross and pierced Him with a spear for my sins. I am a sinner and yet in my illness I am carrying only a splinter of His cross. I have been healthy for most of my life. I consider my current illness a minor annoyance compared to what so many others have endured.

During my recovery, I am blessed to see the hand of God in all of it. Through the cards and letters, Masses and prayers, phone calls and visits, I have come to know the love of God; to receive His merciful consolation; to be blessed with the support and love of so many people. I see His love through you.

I am doubly blessed to have Pat as my wife. She has nursed me through this illness 24/7. I have awakened her at 2:30 AM and she responded selflessly and lovingly. I have witnessed not only her love for me as a wife, but her dedication and her training as a nurse. I am encouraged to continue to heal so that, as St. Paul says, “I can console others as I have been consoled.”


Friday, January 3, 2014

A MESSAGE FROM LAY DIRECTOR, RONNIE MARTELLA

Blessed Christmas Season and Happy New Year!

What a gift to have this season following the excitement of Christmas day to reflect of the incredible reality of the Incarnation. 

As we read in Matthew 1:22-23 "Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: "BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL," which translated means, "GOD WITH US."   

Take time - during this wonderful season and beyond - to keep that reality close to you, let it enter into and impact every part of your being, every decision you make and every act you take. God is with us, and as Catholics and Cursillistas we witness every minute of every day to that reality in our lives.  Let us continue to radiate that joy, love and reality to all with whom we come in contact - our moveable square meter.  

DeColores & Ultreya, Ronnie