“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” Ephesians 3:20
It started off with an idea to do something “special.” Then it became a “surprise” with Br. Darren Wallace who is an ex-marine, and that’s when it hit me. I knew this was going to be tough. We began with a walk toward the Sleeping Giant mountain which is about a 6 mile walk. All the candidates were excited having fun, conversing with each other and curious to where Br. Darren was taking us. It was our first hike since we had gotten back from Washington DC so were ready for an adventure.
We arrived to the Sleeping Giant and began to hike up the feet of the hill which to me felt like Mount Everest. Let’s just say, hiking up large hills or mountains is not something that short-chubby people are made for! It was a struggle for me, and I was trying to offer up my pain and fatigue by reflecting on the Passion of Christ. I was hiking with good shoes and a back pack with water, and complaining how tired I was asking when it was going to be over. It didn’t take long for me to realize what Jesus Christ had gone through for me. After nearly being whipped and tortured to death, he had to carry a large heavy cross all the way to Golgotha to be crucified to save us. When that really started to sink into my mind, I didn’t feel worthy that I was being called to be a priest, let alone to the Legion of Christ. How someone could go through so much pain, more than just physical pain, and still not give one complaint amazes me to this day, and encourages me to rejoice in God my Savior.
I persevered as much as I could as we made our way further up the Giant. We stopped for lunch once we reach the top of the Giant, at his head. The view was beautiful, but something inside me began to turn. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to puke or because I was getting hungry. Sure enough, I knew I was beginning to feel nauseous, and my fear of heights began to sink in. We sat down and had some lunch and that helped ease my stomach for some time. Before I knew it, we were up and ready to continue on to head back to the Seminary. Well the ever so daring Br. Darren had us go down, in what I thought to be the most difficult way possible. Never in my life would I go down such a steep mountain by scaling rocks. The others knew of my fear of heights and so they tried to go slowly with me. As much as they tried to get my mind off things by singing ridiculous songs and screaming random things from the top of this mountain, it didn’t work. I just sat down and didn’t feel like moving. I knew I had to keep going because there was no way I was going to stay at the top of this mountain forever. I offered up my fear for the souls in purgatory and kept pushing forward. The Brothers kept telling me that I was “almost there!” but I would always reply, “I know I am there when I am on flat solid ground.” Before I knew it we finally got onto a normal trail and were on our way back.
It took a bit for my stomach to settle on our walk back but everyone was congratulating me for conquering my fear of heights and getting through the hike. Nevertheless, I learned a great lesson from this adventure. As a future religious, priest and apostle, I know there will times of difficulty that will require me to step outside of my comfort zone. Times when I have to face any fears that I may have inside, but to keep trust and faith in Christ is all I need to get me through each day. Trying my best to live each day closer to Christ, knowing I am one day closer to being with Him in Heaven as the days pass by.
– Br. Michael Aguiar
As we finished our breakfast on that fateful morning, all us brothers wondered where we were going to hike because Monday was our usual hike day. When we asked Br. Miguel where we were going, his only word was “Surprise”!
As we were driving we parked the car in front of Dunkin’ Donuts and our spit glands started getting ready to receive a feast of donuts. Little did we know that behind the donut shop there was a trial; a trail that would result in an 18 miles long hike.
We bravely started out ready to tackle the 8 mile walk to St. Mary’s Church right next to Yale It was tough but we finally made it.
We spent some time in prayer there and then had lunch which we had packed. We then started walking our 8 miles back, but after walking for 90 minutes Br. Luis thought we were lost and we took a detour. That detour made us walk for around two extra miles, but it was nice because we got to see the city of Hamden, and the city of New Haven.
– Br. Steven Perez
4th of July was coming up and we were wondering if we were going to be doing anything special. We kept on badgering Br. Luis and Br. Miguel for answers but the they would both just respond with “It’s a surprise!” accompanied by a sheepish look on their face. We anticipated the night with many ideas of what we could be doing but were disappointing to be met with rain all day so any chance of anything that night would have to be canceled.The morning of the next day though we were rewarded with the news that we would be going out for fireworks that night.
We would head to a park for dinner that night just before sun down and meet up with a family there who was a part of Regnum Christi. They would have dinner for us and we would start off the night with getting to know the family and some of their kids and taking over a nice dinner of sub-sandwiches and fruit.
That night before the fireworks started, we would all pray a rosary together with a few other families who were invited. The rosary was prayed for religious freedom which is something that is not as guaranteed as it used to be. We would say a name of one of the states before each of the Hail Mary’s which I thought was a beautiful idea and then we went around in a circle each saying the next prayer of the Rosary. It was a wonderful experience and for a good cause on top of that. I think one of the most moving things was to see how other people were reacting to us praying the rosary and knowing the example and witness we were to the people around us.
The the fireworks started and what a spectacle they were. We all enjoyed watching them and were glad that we could have that experience of celebrating our nation with other Catholics and remembering the fact that it was founded on Christian principles.
– Br. Ciso Macia, cLC
A couple weeks back we had s connection with a very holy lady named Rosemary who’s family had a nice quaint little beach cottage. She invited all the Candidates over for lunch and dinner and an afternoon on the beach. We anticipated the day on the hour long drive over with much talking and rumbling stomachs. We were listening to the Germany vs. USA game on the radio on the way over and had just arrived to here house when the first half of the game finished.
We all got a chance to meet Rosemary and were consoled by here warm hospitality. She knew that the big game was that day that would decide the fate of the USA for the group stage so she let us all sit down in front of the TV and watch the game. I don’t think that little house had had that much cheering and excitement in it in a long time.
After that we enjoyed a nice lunch which she had prepared for us and it was almost as good as a 5 star restaurant!
We headed outside and started playing on the beach a mix of different sports. We played a little bit of beach soccer and then we played a version of ultimate Frisbee in the water that Fr. John had invented on the spot. It was a blast but quite tiring so we headed back inside to have dinner.
She already had dinner prepared and we all gathered round to eat our fill again. Afterwards we were singing songs with her and her neighbor who had decided to come over and we were all having a grand time talking and singing and playing guitar.
We finally had to head home and so we said goodbye and packed up and started back for Home with full bellies and happy hearts.
– Br. Ciso Macia, cLC
So the date was 7/13 and the time had come for us to adventure down to Washington DC for our Psychological Evaluations. There were mixed emotions about going: some nervous, some anxious, and others excited. I fell into that third category. I have always been interested in Psychology and I was really excited to see the results. There were multiple reasons for us going as Father John described; one was of course to make sure we weren’t crazy and the other was to get to know ourselves better which was the one I was more interested in (though it would be nice to confirm whether or not I was crazy).
We drove down and had dinner at the Legionary community house there In DC where Br. Michael was reunited with his buddies from last year. He had been a part of Mission Corps there in DC and so he knew all the Legionaries there very well. After that night we went up to the retreat center up in Bethesda and we would stay all our nights there.
The next day 2 of us went for our evaluations early in the morning (Br. Michael and I) and the rest went to downtown DC to see some sights. The brothers got to see the National Cementery, Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and some of the art museums there. The Psychological Evaluations were pretty in depth.
While this was going on the other Brother would be in the library with Fr. John studying up on American history; just to get the full experience of Washington DC. We also were able to visit the local parish while waiting for the other brother which was a quaint little parish with a beautiful interior and a nice little Marian grotto. At the end of the day when we all met up in downtown DC, we all stopped for ice cream and enjoyed a nice chess game while we were there. Unfortunately the chess game ran a little long and we went over on our parking so we ended up getting a ticket but we all pitched in to help cover the cost and we had a great sense of taking responsibility for one another as a community and really tangibly supporting one another.
The next day the rest of the brothers who hadn’t had their psychological evaluation yet headed into town early for that and the rest of us went to go downtown and check out the Holocaust museum. We spent a full 3 hours there pouring over the information and really trying to understand the horror that took place in world war two.
After that we experienced the highlight of our trip. We went down to the National Shrine and had mass down in the Inmaculate Heart of Mary altar! It was beautiful and we then spent some time walking around and marveling at the beauty while praying our rosary individually.
The next day we started on our way home but took time to stop at Gettysburg and tour the battle fields that we had been learning about at the library. We got home that night exhausted and tried but feeling happy to be home and in our beds.
– Br. Ciso Macia, cLC