Coming away from the weekend retreat with Fr. Jay and the other couples, I walk away feeling extremely blessed! This past weekend of experiencing a third retreat with Fr. Jay has proved to be another God inspired event. It is miraculous to see God working through Fr. Jay and him being so active to respond.
In completing a retreat and getting to work as part of the Team, I can feel the grace, joy, and passion Fr. Jay has through living out his calling of shepherding couples. I am able to see that as I observe other couples at the retreat open up and expose those truths that were hindering their relationship. Through that, hurt is released and given to God, allowing love to take place.
I experienced this at my first retreat with my husband Brad, then again at the following two retreats I have been blessed to help out at. It is always an honor to be in Fr. Jays presence, so I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit continues to lead his journey. It is also a powerful example to be on a team with such strong couples. Thanks be to God for allowing this retreat to take place once again in the beautiful Diocese of Springfield. Thanks be to God for the willingness of couples to desire to live out the Sacrament of marriage. May we all continue to pray for this powerful ministry, and that through God’s grace, will change the face of marriages.
After a short journey from the airport to Audrey and Brad’s home and after a short flight from St. Louis to Chicago, now over four hours’ flight to Mexico. This is already the second time that I’m going to this country (the first one was in 2009) where, just like in our country, Mary reigns, the patron of America.
Now the reason for the trip is meeting the married couples and our programme I+YOU=WE. For the first time in Latin America. It means that it may be different to what it was like in Germany, the UK, the US. I can only guess how different.
The date when this trip begins brings a lot of peace: April 28th. For us this date is very important as this when pour founder, Father Kazimierz Majdanski, was freed from Dachau (1945), when our Institute for Family Studies was founded (1975) and when the Founder died (2007). Yesterday a pilgrimage of gratitude to Kalisz was organised where Joseph, the head of the Holy Family, is the patron.
With some shyness, I’m trying to think about this trip as the continuation of the story that started in Dachau. Had it not been for Dachau, there would not have been my vocation and there wouldn’t have been the Programme that is the fruit of our calling. Even though there are a lot of questions and uncertainty, I feel in my heart peace and joy.
Dios los bendiga
Paying a visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe
The last blog post penned by Fr Captain of the “Harbour” has got a post-script with the greetings sent for you, Dear Readers
already from the journey to Mexico
Fr. Jay, who soon will be renamed “Padre Jota” (“jota” – in Spanish means the letter “j”. That’s how I’m called – by the first letter of my first name, as almost nobody is able to pronounce Jarosław – not to mention “Szymczak”)
Yesterday in our parish the Homily for children was prepared by a Deacon and two seminarians – all from a missionary congregation. They asked the kids for help in getting a missionary-to-be ready for his trip to South America. So they picked different objects from the bag, asking if they will be useful for the young priest to reach people’s hearts. When the Deacon asked the seminarian, wearing already the poncho, straw hat and a stole, which country in South America he would like to visit, he confessed that he had always dreamt of going to Mexico. That was followed by some degree of confusion as to where Mexico was placed on the map, but they found their way out by saying that it’s somewhere between both Americas.
That’s why the blog editors decided to insert a map into this post, hoping it includes all that our Missionary, Fr Jay, may need on his way.*
*The bottom right corner is occupied by St Therese of Lisieux, the Patron Saint of missionaries. The map does not show our prayers, but it is as obvious as the Mexican sun that each of us may add up our (so necessary) support.
PS. On the day of the Pilgrimage of Families to St Joseph Shrine in Kalisz, Poland – we are also joining in prayers for healing Fr Darek (Fr Jay’s brother in priesthood from the Institute of the Holy Family) from cancer disease.
Unfortunately, not all the couples were able to stay till the very end of the retreat, but those who managed, gathered in Christ the King Chapel to participate in the Holy Mass and renew their marriage vows. And that was an unusual experience.
Afterwards, there was the time for the Participants to share the things they discovered during the Program, their greatest joys and what they remembered most.
I remembered most that the couples liked very much my praying aloud for each of them, just before the Mass, “in tongues”, as they put it, and to be specific, in just one language, namely Polish. But for them it sounded absolutely mysterious and unearthly. 🙂 It turns out that even Polish language can be a foreign language. So it’s not so bad with the Poles, as we are able to use at least one foreign language. 😉
And seriously, I’m the happiest man in the world, because I was able to see the miracles of God’s grace. God never ceases to care for married couples – whom He called to life granting His own grace.
Praise be to Him forever.
With most sincere prayer for all of You
The day that is just coming to an end was very long for all of us. For the retreat participants it was also the day of travel. Only few of them arrived yesterday, most of them had to get up very early to make it on time.
Our Team is busy running the Program, but we also take every opportunity to spend together each moment in between to go through all the subsequent activities, share our experience and impressions, and divide tasks.
At the closing of the day we took part in a quiet and long adoration of the Holy Sacrament in the Christ the King Chapel, which we had just for us. The Sacrament of Penance and Reconcilliation was available for those who needed it, too.
We can feel the support of your prayers coming from so many different places in the world. We all know that the time of the retreat can be very difficult but at the same time – blessed and beneficial.
Audrey&Brad, Patrick&Daniele, and one Father from Poland
PS. Some of the Readers commented that the story described in the previous post – of a husband doing the laundry for his wife – was a nice thing but no big deal indeed. Theoretically yes, but if you take into account that Daniele and Patrick are parents to 12 children, 8 of whom are still at home, and the youngest one is a few months old, then…
In Belleville, Illinois, in the Mississippi River valley, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) have built a sanctuary of Our Lady of the Snow, in memory of their service in the Arctic. Today it is a place where various groups hold their retreats. And this is where the organizers of the upcoming I+YOU=WE couple reatreat (from the neighbouring Diocese of Springfield) managed to find place for us.
Today I met two married couples who had taken part in I+YOU=WE (during its 2nd edition in Omaha: Brad & Audrey Bolt, and Deacon Patrick & Daniele O’Toole). They invited Fr Brian Alford to join our Program 1. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to stay with us for long, but he’ll be here whenever that does not interfere with his duties in the parish.
We spent the evening on looking through all the workshop outlines, checked the schedule, rooms, meals and all other items which must be ready for Saturday and Sunday ahead.
I’m surprised again that the couples remember so much from their own participation in the Program, and how much they were able to change in their lives for good.
Patrick, for example, after the retreat asked his wife how he could really help her, so that she could see his real concern for her. She didn’t say anything, leaving him freedom of choice. He chose the laundry. For the last 15 months, Daniele has never gone dwonstairs to the basement to do the laundry. They’re both happy about it. So am I.
The second edition of Program 1 in Springfield Diocese is on. We offer it to Our Lady of the Snow and the Holy Family.
Today I had one-of-a-kind opportunity to spend the whole afternoon with one of the couples who had taken part in the first edition of the I+YOU=WE Program in Omaha, Nebraska. It’s Katie and Rick Brennan from St. Louis, MO. I met Rick during EP1 in Omaha several years ago, and Katie – first only via e-mail. Later we met again in person during the couple retreat for NaProTechnology doctors.
Rick, whom I nicknamed Rick the Rock from the very start, is an obstetrician-gynecologist and an exceptional man. He’s a father to two daughters and two sons, a wonderful husband and one of three doctors who are entirely at the service of life here in St Louis. He doesn’t prescribe contraceptives, is a NaPro doctor and… completely isolated in his environment. But happy. We always have a choice. With our Lord Jesus things may be more difficult, because the disciple is not above his Master, but with Him you have blessing and joy, and the peace of conscience which te world is not able to understand, but is surely envious of it.
In their home you feel as part of family. They’ve been my hosts during my stay in St Louis, but until today we had no time to be together due to my schedule, packed full. So we were left only with late night hours. Today, finally, we could meet at daylight.
We’re planning the I+YOU=WE retreat in St Louis, some time next year. And they will be the coach couple.
We could go on talking infinitely. So many stories to tell, so many experiences to share. Their friends joined us, too.
A wonderful family. Their son is a seminarian. Goodness multiplies itself and it attracts goodness.
For the last time from St. Louis,
– the place where the West begins. Here all the expeditions to the West began, here families got their supplies for the journey, here the adventure begins.
To commemorate this place and this part of history, this monument was built, presented on May 25, 1968.
I’ve been here before and I’ve written about it in the blog. Then I found out that it was possible to get to the very top. So this year I decided to seize the opportunity and go to the summit between the planned meetings.
The view is indeed breathtaking. It’s difficult to put all the photos I made but it is very impressive. And I think tghat only man can do things that are of no use use other then to commemorate a historical event.
Now, after the visit to Arch, I’m thinking about all the homes where I slept and sat to the table together. There are always so many details, trinkets etc. that are of no practical use but they serve only to underline the special character of the meeting. Those flowers, decorations, tablecloths, serviettes…
It’s so important to celebrate veryday life as it transposes us into a new dimension. St. Therese wrote about the infinite dimension of small (finite) things.
Let’s celebrate everyday life because it leads us to eternity.
Still from St. Louis
– is the meeting that has brought me to St. Louis. Close to Omaha, only 1.15 by plane.
St Louis is the only diocese in the United States which hosted Pope John Paul II, apart from the youth meeting in Denver, Co.
It took me a long time to get prepared for that conference. I was most afraid of the Q&A part, questions and answers, scheduled to follow my speech. Of course in English. And indeed, questions were not lacking. The onlything that was lacking was the answer to some of them. English is still a “foreign language” for me.
There were lots of positive emotions and a very warm welcome. At present I feel so exhausted that I keep on writing and falling asleep interchangeably.
From St Louis,
Yesterday’s event was announced on the website of the Office of Natural Family Planning at the Archdiocese of St Louis:
SEXUALITY – THE FRAGILE GIFT
A rare opportunity – on April 23, 2013 at 7PM, in the Lally Room at the Cardinal Rigali Center, Fr. Jaraslow Szymczak will speak on Sexuality –the Fragile Gift. A native of Poland, Fr. Jay has devoted his priesthood to families, marriage counseling and spiritual directions of couples.
Because in our messy times we need to give sexuality back its true meaning and teach again of its beauty, long lost and distorted.
We continue to add up our prayers to the global prayers for our Itinerant Father Jay,
The “Harbour” Team