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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!