Monday, November 28, 2005


According to Canon Law, I have to make a 5 day retreat before being ordained a deacon. So, today I'm heading off to a hermitage in New Jersey for 5 days of silence. I"m actually very much looking forward to it. That's right, 5 days of silence. No TV, cell phone, email...nothing. It'll just be me and Christ. You can understand why I am excited. It'll be very refreshing to meet him in this silence.

My hope is that this week will help me enter into more deeply what it means to be a deacon (deacon=servant), and to let the Lord work on my heart. I'm not trying to have any expectations, but I do feel the Lord is pulling me in the direction of changing my heart to that of a servant. On a much deeper level. It is sirely needed!!

Please pray for me this week.. thay my heart will be changed. I will pray for you as I live as a hermit this week!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Giving thanks

A man looked at the menu at the airport restaurant, and realized that the sandsiches were named for planes. "I'll have a 'jumbo jet'", he said. When the order arrived, he was disappointed to see how small his burger was, but he ate it anyway.

He called his waiter over. "Was that the 'jumbo jet?'" he asked.

"Yeah", the waiter answered. "Went pretty fast, didn't it?"

Well, it was last year at this time that we started this site..right around Thanksgiving time. Please check out my post from last year's Thanksgiving for a good list of things for which we are thankful. Since we have launched this site, much has happened in our world, both locally at GW and globally. We have much to be thankful for, especially as we've seen so much suffering around us in the past year.

I hope that the natural disasters, especially Hurricane Rita and the tsunami, have brought each of us to our knees every night, thanking God for all that we have. Thanksgiving Day should be every day; to give thanks to God for all our blessings is a huge part of being a Christian. I go to Mass each day to thank Him mainly for the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving), but for all that He has given me. Every day is a gift from Him!

I thank Him for the great year I had at GW, for all of you with whom I had the great honor of meeting, for the situation I'm in now about to be ordained, all the great friends I've made, the incredible people I meet on a regular basis in ministry, for our faith, my great family, my gifts, vocation, and for my life. He has given me all of this, and I can never thank Him enough for all of it.

For what are you thankful?

I wish everyone a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!! Be safe!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Update on Maria Turner

On the post just below this one ("Who is your hero?"), I write about a real hero, Maria Stefko Turner. Maria has made a special request for prayers, so please pray for her. Here is an update on her situation.

She went on Monday for her 3 month check up, and the Cat Scan showed a new infected lymph node around her heart. She goes for a Pet Scan on tomorrow. Next Monday, she will begin intense chemotherapy to shrink the disease. Maria also has an upcoming bone marrow transplant, and they are looking at her family members as potential donors.

Maria writes this: "I could really use a lot of prayers to help give me the strength to fight this and, God willing, be cured. Thank you for your prayers and support."

Please show Maria your support by leaving a comment to this post, assuring her of your prayers. Either she will read your comments, or her family members will read them to her.

Thank you all very much!

Who is your hero?

The following is a reflection I gave on July 28 at the parish where I was this past summer. Please pray for our hero, Maria Stefko Turner.
Years ago, I had a T-shirt with a list of celebrities’ names on the front of it– rock stars, athletes, politicians. Across the front were the words, 'Who is your hero?' Then, on the back of the shirt were the words 'Would he die for you?' with a big Cross. The point is that Jesus Christ is the greatest hero the world has ever seen. That, to live a heroic life is to live heroic love. Jesus says that heroic love is the greatest love: “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus freely accepted laying down his own life for each one of us, his friends.

If I were to make a shirt today with a list of my heroes, certainly all mothers would be on it. Every mother makes great sacrifices, as many of you here today can attest. Through pregnancy, labor, nurturing, and raising a child, every mother lives sacrificial love. There is a very short list of mothers, though, who have made the greatest sacrifice and laid down their lives for their child.

One of these women lived in Europe last century. Gianna Beretta Molla was a mother of four children. When she was pregnant with her fourth child, doctors discovered cancer in her body. They advised her to abort the child in order to save her own life. She discussed it with her husband, thought and prayed about it, and freely made the heroic choice for the life of her child. Within a year of giving birth to her beautiful fourth child, Gianna lost her battle with cancer. A few years ago, Pope John Paul II canonized her a saint for the heroic choice she made to lay down her life for her child.

There is a woman who has family in St. John’s parish who was recently confronted with a similar situation as Gianna when she became pregnant with her second child. Maria Stefko Turner had the same condition, was given the same advice from her doctors, discussed it with her husband, thought and prayed about it, and made the heroic choice for the life of her child.

Now, Maria is fighting the cancer. Today is significant because she goes for her scans - tests to see where she is with the cancer. Some parishioners here have been making a novena to St. Gianna, imploring her intercession. Please join in this novena and pray for Maria. We have great confidence in God that He will hear our prayers to restore Maria to good health.

Who is your hero?” JESUS CHRIST…..St. Gianna Beretta Molla….Maria Stefko Turner.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Heroic trust

What a game the 'Skins and Buccaneers played yesterday, huh? 36-35! Wow, does this one hurt for us "Skins fans. They get me all excited that they are this really good team, and then they lose it. Oh well...they'll probably finish 9-7, possibly 10-6. Oh, by the way, the Tampa Bay winning points yesterday shouldn't have been allowed- the runner was down before he scored. Them the breaks, I guess!
A good friend of mine is a single, Catholic stud who is in his thirties. He fell in love with a young woman last year, and they have patiently developed their relationship. He is an Intel Officer in the Marine Corps. Just when things were getting very good between him and his girlfriend, he was sent to Iraq. As tough as it was to do, he accepted it in faith, trusting that God willed for him to go and would be with him every step of the way.

My buddy spent seven tough months in Iraq. He wasn't near any fighting, but still had a very difficult time there. Part of it was missing his girlfriend, but the other part was the awful living conditions he encountered. He was extremely happy to come home this Fall. He picked right back up with his girlfriend who missed him more than he thought she would.

Then, the USMC called him to a second tour of duty in Iraq. Another seven months starting early next year. Oof. That's a tough one. His reaction? Well, if this is what God wants, I'll do it. He's not overly psyched about it- who would be? But, he's going back. This is a serious sacrifice. He has waited so long to find the right person (and trusted God's Plan throughout). Now, he's found her. She is great and she loves him. He is a hero anyway, but it's on many levels.

He trusts God on an heroic level. He has for many years now. He has his own idea of what will make him happy, but if it's not God's idea, then he doesn't want it. In other words, he will follow God wherever He leads him, even into places "where you would rather not go" (Jn 21:18). Even to Iraq...even away from the woman he loves. God is his first and truest love. He trusts that God's Plan, even if he doesn't understand it, will ultimately be what's best for him.

I have thought that his time in Iraq will strengthen their relationship. He said that was true for the first tour, and is hopeful that it will be the case for the second tour. Years down the road, hopefully they will be married, and will look back on this time and think that it was the best thing for them. It was hard but good (usually things that are good are hard). For now, my buddy has that hope, and his heroic trust in Christ will be tested every day that he is defending our country in a place he'd rather not go.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Call to Orders!

Update on my ordination status:

Last Thursday, Cardinal McCarrick gave me my Call
to Orders! What that means is that he officially
called me to be ordained a deacon. I've gotten
the Call!! In larger terms, it means that God has
called me to be a deacon through the Church. That's
way cool! After all this time, especially, it's
unbelievable to know with certainty that I am
doing God's Will. Guess I've been on the right
track after all with this priesthood thing!

I think the exact wording His Eminence used was,
"Greg, I call you to Sacred Orders for service
in the Church of Washington". So, I am now set
to be ordained a transitional deacon on Saturday,
December 17, 5 pm, St John Neumann Church,
Gaithersburg, Maryland. There should be three
of us ordained deacons that day, which would line
up twelve of us to be ordained priests for Washington
in May. That would be the largest ordination class
here in like 20 years!

I will give a general invitation to the GW community
as the ordination nears, but in general terms, everyone
is invited to attend the Ordination Mass. Also, I am
happy to answer any questions that you might have
about being a deacon or priest. Please pray for me
as I enter the clerical state!

- Rev. Mr. Greg (Reverend Mister is the title for
transitional deacons or deacons to be)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Feasts of All Saints and All Souls

Yesterday (Nov. 1) we celebrated the Solemnity of All Saints, and today (Nov. 2) we celebrate the memorial of All Souls. As the Catholic encyclopedia (to view this site, click on the title of this post) states, All Saints Day "is instituted to honor all the saints, known and unknown, and, according to Urban IV, to supply any deficiencies in the faithful's celebration of saints' feasts' during the year". Nov.1 honors all the saints in Heaven

Today (and throughout the month of November), we pray for all the souls in Purgatory. Offering prayers and sacrifices for the dead is inspired by 2 Maccabees, in which sacrifices are offered for the dead "so that they might be released for their sins" (12:46). Our prayers are for those who have died in a state of Grace, but not yet perfectly cleansed from venial sins. As the encyclopedia says, "the faithful on earth can help them by prayers, almsdeeds and especially by the sacrifice of the Mass". If you know someone who has died, especially in the past year, the best thing you can do for him or her is go to Mass on this day.

Here is a clip of a Q & A about saints from

Why does the Catholic Church emphasize saints' relics if Jesus says that the only way to heaven is through him?

Relics do not save people, and the Catholic Church does not teach that they do. Jesus saves people.

Relics can, however, remind us of flesh-and-blood people who generously cooperated with God’s grace. Those saints, in turn, can encourage us to cooperate just as generously with God’s grace.

Many Christians can agree that Jesus Christ has saved us through his passion, death and resurrection. They will likely also agree that a person could choose not to accept salvation. How? By that person’s choices.

Saints remind us to make good and generous choices. Relics can remind us of saints (including Mary). All walked this earth and eventually gave God an accounting for their stewardship of resources, time and talent.

The Son of God became a human being, in the person of Jesus Christ, within a specific time and in a designated place. In a sense, relics remind us of Jesus’ Incarnation and of our need—right here, right now—to make choices which reflect and reinforce our identity as followers of Jesus.

Adapted from "Ask A Franciscan,"a feature in St. Anthony Messenger.

When did we begin to venerate saints?

The various Church communities cherished the early Christian martyrs and commemorated the anniversaries of their deaths (their birth into eternal life) by keeping all-night vigil at their graves and celebrating a Eucharist in the early morning.

By the time Christianity became an accepted religion in the Roman Empire, the cult of martyrs was well established and they were being invoked as intercessors. Particular saints could plead before God on behalf of certain communities or individuals.

Members of the community still living on earth could intercede on behalf of those in purgatory. Praying for the dead is based on the scriptural passage in 2 Maccabees 12:43-46: "It is a holy and wholesome thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins."

There was much emphasis placed on this idea of a saintly community in the early Church. All the saints—those on earth, those in heaven and those in purgatory—were seen as belonging to the one body of Christ.

St. John Chrysostom, who died in 407, called for a "feast of martyrs of the whole world." At his behest the feast of All Saints (All Hallows), those known and unknown, has been observed since his time.

The fourth-century Nicene Creed leaves us in no doubt of the importance of this early Church teaching. As Christians we profess a belief in the communion of saints.