Category Archives: Uncategorized

1491349_10102121179471363_4830093089405568074_o

In Savannah ♫

On Sunday March 13th, the UNG’s Catholic Campus Ministry took the Mobile Missions’ bus on a trip to Savannah, Georgia for a Spring Break Mission Trip. For those of you who don’t already know, the bus has been completely overhauled and renovated by our campus minister and her husband, Jaime & David Roberts (who run the Mobile Mission Ministry). There are benches that line the interior walls, making it convenient to talk, have fun, and even sleep during a road trip.  We made it down to Savannah in about six hours after two stops: one for gas and one for food – but really they were both bathroom breaks. We arrived at the Villa Maria Center, a Catholic retreat center run by the Diocese of Savannah and maintained by Sister Pat. The center was beautiful and had a dining hall, large commercial kitchen, a pool house with showers, a chapel, fire pit, dock, and fields to play soccer, badminton, and volleyball on. The sun had set on the first day of our trip to Savannah, and we all prepared our sleeping spots, either in the dining hall or on the bus. All of the girls claimed the bus, and as we got into our sleeping bags and hunkered down for the night, we talked about our dreams and aspirations.

On the next day, we awoke at 7:15am. Rising and shining was not easy, 12593914_10102121225025073_2733725866981445118_obut we got dressed and headed down to the chapel to do MorningPrayer together. We then got back on the bus to drive to St. James Catholic Church for their 8:30am Mass. When we walked in, I’m confident that we lowered the age average by at least a few years. The Mass was short and the parishioners were welcoming and friendly. We got back on the bus and headed back to Villa Maria to change into play clothes for the day and to enjoy a hearty breakfast together, cooked by the one and only, David Hunter.

12027376_10102121187071133_8476906216317656042_oWe then got back on the bus to head to downtown Savannah to explore the city we were there to serve. We walked through Forsyth Park and up and down the beautiful streets of the city. We explored some of the grassy squares, saw the spot where Forrest Gump was filmed sitting on a park bench in Chippewa Square. We used the restroom inside the SCAD welcome center, took pictures outside the front of the cathedral, and we took a stroll down River Street. We ate lunch at Tubby’s, a restaurant that overlooks the river, and then walked back to the bus to go to Blessingdale’s, the thrift store where we would do our mission work. This store funds The Living Vine, a Christian Maternity Home that houses pregnant women that have nowhere else to go. They also host a yard sale every month and split the proceeds with local youth groups who volunteer and help the yard sale.

12841154_10102121221876383_6898176690946579021_o

When we arrived to Blessingdale’s, we got the grand tour of the chaos we were being thrown into. The thrift store had a few other college groups who were volunteering there for the week also. We jumped right in with them. 12841411_10102121228857393_6968189626917290546_oSome of our group was in the processing center, where the donations are dropped off to be sorted later. There were countless shoes to be sorted into pairs by gender, sizes, and how they should be sold (either in the thrift store or into a yard sale pile.). The other part of the group was brought to an annex storage facility with cold water and ice for the group that had been there all day. 12308166_10102121231871353_236504269034707087_oThere was no air conditioning and the volunteers who were there 10549213_10102121231117863_5375589133194822441_olooked like the ice and water we brought was an answer to their prayers – looking back on it now, it probably was. Those of us on that trip finally made it back to the processing center to help sort, not only shoes, but also housewares, small appliances, décor pieces, and clothing. The men of the group used their muscles to move the heavy furniture and trash items. We closed down the shop at 6pm and made it back to Villa Maria, our temporary home. We played games together and had a delicious dinner together. We took turns taking showers in the pool house and counted down the hours until we could sleep.

Tuesday started just the same, Morning Prayer in the chapel, then off to St. James for 8:30am Mass. This time Mass was celebrated by a different priest than the day before. We talked with a few parishioners afterwards who were interested in what we were doing and how we were helping their community. One lady even donated $50 to us for our efforts (which we donated to The Living Vine Maternity Home). After Mass, we went back to Villa Marie to change and eat another breakfast, and we also made and packed our lunches for the day. We then walked out the door and onto the bus, as we left for Blessingdale’s.

12473680_10102121231402293_8034015879748544213_o12006542_10102121223667793_2848447841726879743_o

O12377827_10102121232320453_7683220904718349108_our group broke off again and many of us went back to sorting shoes, and the other half went to the back room of the store. You see, the store has always been at this location, but they had just recently secured the warehouse building next door to use as their processing center. There was almost no good working system for them because as soon as they could put stuff onto the shelves to sell items, 100’s of new donations were being dropped off. We were really able to leave them in much better shape than we had found it when we arrived. Those of us in the back room group put some stuff out on the floor to sell and then the real work started. We wiped down the pollen-covered shelves, and moved them so they were all together. We moved, boxed, and organized tools that the store uses. Lunch came and we could finally sit down and eat on the bus while talking about all the work we were doing. We were on an amazing journey of self-discovery because while we cleaned and organized we were also helping people who could not help themselves. We quickly got back to work and continued the tasks we were given. After 6:00pm, we got back on the bus, exhausted and happy. We made it home to shower and play games. We set up some tents and hammocks this night too. We had built an amazing community among ourselves – we laughed about inside jokes and were making new ones. We built a fire and cooked hotdogs for dinner, then prayed the rosary together to close out the day.

Wednesday started with Morning Prayer and Mass again before breakfast and heading back to the thrift store. All of the workers who were there were so grateful, but to me, it really did not seem like that big of a deal. I just saw this as sharing the time and talents we had been given with people whom we might not ever get to meet. I saw it as an opportunity for growth. We finished the backroom and the shoes, and we were given different tasks, like taking down tables, fixing the clothes racks and putting more clothes out. We worked the tedious jobs that I’m sure the ladies at the store were glad they had people to help do. We wiped furniture and trinkets, and put tags on pins and earrings. At the end of the day, we took a moment to shop and buy some things from the store as well. We invested some of our money into the shop we had spent so much time improving. We also got to share the Mobile Mission bus with the ladies at the shop to show them how cool it is. We prayed with them before leaving, maybe to never return or see the fruit of our labors, but we know we helped them and that’s all we could ask.

After leaving Blessingdale’s for the last time, we went to Leopald’s, a famous ice cream parlor downtown. We had prayed that we would get a good space in line because on Monday we saw that the line was wrapped outside the building. Our prayers were answered – there was no line at all when we arrived! The ice cream was just as good as the company we shared it with. We made it back to Villa Maria to shower, play games, and grow closer to one another in our conversations. We built another fire and had dinner around it again, before closing the night out with another rosary. Because it was our last night together, we tried to keep our eyes open as long as possible and spend more quality time together into the wee hours of the night.

10575264_10102121204476253_4915432978764126931_oOn Thursday morning, we had to wake up much earlier in order to say Morning Prayer and make it to a different church for an 8:00am Mass at the Cathedral downtown. The parking was atrocious because of it being the St. Patrick’s Day parade. We finally found a spot and hiked over 20 blocks to Mass. The Cathedral was packed to the brim with a sea of green Catholics in preparation for the big parade. The Mass was said by the Bishop of Savannah, and there were close to ten other priests on the altar to help celebrate Mass. The homily was said by an Irish priest, and his words made me want to go to Ireland and see the beauty and the seminary there. There were photographers taking pictures throughout the Mass, which in all honesty, made me feel a little awkward, but we got through it. After Mass we trekked back to the bus and headed to Tybee Island. On the way to Tybee, we noticed how many of our other friends were in Savannah for the parade, but I was thankful for not being in the chaos.

We made it to Tybee and hung out on the beach. The weather was nice, but the water was cold. We played frisbee and talked about the future, and tried not to think about the fact that our time together like this was almost over. We got back on the bus and went to Villa Maria. We packed and loaded up all of our things. We swept and cleaned the areas we used, and then we loaded on the bus and headed home.

12484849_10102121232874343_8274138329976764201_o12794867_10102121232954183_1559684659614895432_o12593921_10102121168747853_2839063439468622476_oThe bus trip was filled with music from a guitar, a djembe drum, and an authentic tin whistle. Laughter filled the air, as did the heavy breathing of sleeping people.  We made it back to Dahlonega and grabbed food before sharing our goodbyes and going our separate ways. We started great friendships on this trip and we were able to share our talents with those who needed it. While we may not see the fruits of our labor during our time serving in Savannah, we still served God and shared him with everyone we met.

greatness

Made For Greatness

What kind of person do you want to be? Some might say successful, others, happy, and yet others might say fulfilled. These are all beautiful answers and all have their individual values but none of them paint the whole picture. We have all been created with dignity and an intrinsic value that God wants more for you then just happiness or success. God has created you for greatness! So what is greatness? Is it being the CEO of some Fortune 500 company? Possibly. What about becoming an international speaker? Maybe. What about just being a father working a regular job? The beautiful thing about greatness is that it can be anything so long as we are following the will of God in our lives. We all have different gifts, talents and callings in life and yet everything we do is in service of our neighbor and the living Church, known as the Mystical Body of Christ. If you are anything like me, we can sometimes find ourselves bargaining with God. We say things like, “if You would do this for me then I will be able to do this for You.” I have noticed in the past year how often this has been my response to situations in my life in both good times and bad, but through self introspection I’ve come to see how selfish a desire that is. You see, God never leaves us on our own but He gives us countless opportunities to show just how much we love Him and how much faith we have in His ways versus our own. Our view from our own eyes can become cloudy and fogged as we travel over the, often times, windy path to follow in the footsteps of Christ. This fog can be from our own lack of faith, our own selfish desires, or it can be placed by the evil one – satan. I feel satan is often behind these selfish prayers of ours when we bargain with God. There is hope for us “bargainers” though. You see, once we become aware of what we are doing we can convert our prayers to allow God to transform our hearts and to help us transform that fog into a beautiful light. We must examine our motives behind the desires we pray for and if they contain selfish thoughts we must ask for those motives to be purified. While, what we may pray for in their own right might be something true, good, and beautiful, if our intentions are selfish in nature then we can poison those desires – and this is exactly what satan wants of us. Next time you find yourself bargaining in prayer, even for something good, ask God to purify your intentions and to show you the true meaning of what you are asking. Regardless of the response that He gives you, it is all because He loves you and has made you for greatness. He calls you to the journey, but it is your decision to take the first step.

 

Komen2

3…2…1…The Jump of a Lifetime

Have you ever been called to do something but felt that you were unqualified or unworthy to do so? Maybe you were asked to be the best man, or maid of honor at a wedding, or maybe been asked to lead a team at work in a new direction. There are countless times in our lives that we are called to do something that we feel unworthy or unqualified to undertake and yet, sometimes we must make a move. When given these opportunities we have a choice to make: do we take what is being offered and see where it leads or do we stick to what we know because it’s safe and secure? For most of my known life I have been a planner, an organizer, and someone who calculates my every move. I do not like the unknowns in life, nor do I like jumping at an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone. 3 ½ years ago God set in motion a movement in my heart that I have actively fought until recently. For those that do not know, I have been discerning a call to the priesthood for a few years now. For the longest time it was a personal discernment of God saying yes and me saying no. As you can imagine, this back and forth lasted for a couple of years. It was not until I gave God the chance, and in one “weak” moment, allowed God to show me the “what if”. That “what if” moment would set me down the path of meeting some of the most influential people in my life, in both my discernment and the formation of who I am as a human being. Those people help me pick myself up when I fall and keep me grounded when I’m soaring. It was from the many examples of true and holy marriages, and true and holy priests that I was even able to truly allow God to work on my heart. I am happy to announce that as of February 22, 2016 I have been accepted as a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and will hopefully be attending Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Some of you may have seen this coming for a long time now, while for some of you this might come as a surprise. The beautiful thing is that is has been a surprise to me as well! I feel totally unqualified and unworthy that God would even call me into the water this deep – but I have trust in what He is doing and am very excited to start this new journey in my life. I humbly ask that you keep me in your prayers as I continue my discernment in God’s call and that if He does ultimately call me to the priesthood that I be like those true and Holy priests that have influenced my life so much. My brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to walk into the water, for that journey may never end like you thought, but I can promise you that it will be one of the most interesting and beautiful walks you can imagine. Know that you are in my prayers and if you ever need anything please do not hesitate to ask!

He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” – Matthew 4:19

Your Brother in Christ,

Evan

P.S.
I plan to write and release my vocation story as a blog sometime in the near future, and also plan to post updates as my discernment continues and about what life is like in seminary via The Mobile Mission blog – so stay tuned!

Fishers-of-Men-610x350

Always-Guard-Your-Heart-Inspirational-Life-Quotes

A Letter to My Freshly Single Brothers and Sisters

My dearest siblings,

It’s hard. Whether you just got broken up with, or you did the breaking, I know that it is. I am currently sharing this struggle with you, and I want to tell you something so important. Everyone has probably been telling you the usual, “it will get better” speech, and they are not wrong. It most definitely will get better, but not unless you make one important decision. The decision to guard your heart.

Yes, I know that is the cheesiest thing that can be said at this moment. It is the stereotypical Bible verse about relationships and love, but THIS is the moment where it is most crucial to do so. This is the time where your heart is most vulnerable. When you are in a relationship you learn to let your walls down, and to let heart be softened to the person you are with. You get used to each other. You have those inside jokes, that one restaurant that is your spot, and that show that one of you ALWAYS wants to watch on Netflix. That is something so beautiful and special that you can share with someone, but it’s something so hard to forget when trying to get over the breakup.

This is the time when you are searching for something to fill that void where your boyfriend/girlfriend once stood. There is that part of you, no matter how big or small, that misses the little routine things. There is this feeling of, “what do I do with my time?” This is also where something the world knows as the rebound effect happens. We all know what I am talking about, and how negatively it affects lives. There is such a desire to give and receive love that we convince ourselves we are ready to move on, to start fresh. Let me tell you, my dear brothers and sisters, that is not a fresh start at all. We have so many emotions happening at once that it is easy to get them confused. If you jump into a new relationship, or even back into the one you were just in, without really praying about what the right thing to do is, you could really do damage to both parties here. We really have to put aside our earthly desires and ask God to guide us in our decision making.

I had been with my boyfriend a little over a year before I decided it was best to end it. I told God no so many times; breaking up with him was the last thing that I wanted to do. It was such a hard decision and I cried when I finally decided to do it. I will tell you where I found comfort; in Psalm 37:4 it says, “Find your delight in the LORD who will give you your heart’s desire”. That is what made it all make since to me. I was focusing so much on my desires that I was completely disregarding that God had plans for me! However, this still did not make me 100% certain that ending it was, in fact, what God was asking me to do. I pulled out a prayer book I bought and read this prayer.

“Lord, I turn to you for help, that in your wisdom you might aid me in making the right decision. I am unsure about what is best for me, and at times I am scared to pray for guidance, not because I don’t believe, but because I know that if I am honest with myself and with you, I will be changed – and that change scares me. I am comfortable now, and sometimes I am afraid of what you might be calling me to do. Shake me from my comfort. When I doubt my ability to choose what is right, guide me in my discernment and point me in the direction you want me to go. When I turn to you, I will always find the courage to choose faith, the strength to choose hope, and the compassion to choose love. I am not made or unmade by the things which happen to me but my reaction to them.” – St. John of the Cross

After reading, and really praying this prayer, I felt it. I started hysterically crying in my room and I knew that it had to be done. Again I say yes, it was hard, but God granted me such peace that even though I was hurting greatly, I knew that I did right by Him.

So my lovely siblings in Christ, run to Jesus. Run to Him with all your hurt, all your desires, and everything making your heart feel heavy. He will be exactly what you need. Guard your heart by giving it to Him. Find your desires that you didn’t even know you had by calling out to our heavenly Father and asking Him to hold you and shower you with grace! I will be praying for you! That you may pray the prayer I have shared with you and have stillness in your hearts to listen to God’s call. You are all so important and I cannot put into words how much I love you!

With all of my love always,

Venessa Benitez

“God will never show you gold and give you silver.” – Jackie Angel

IMG_8963

The Mobile Mission in Missouri!!!

We love retreats! And we love putting them on for teenagers! So when we were asked to help out with the Spirit Alive Youth Conference in Wentzville, Missouri we were ecstatic! This was a bit different for us because we weren’t putting the retreat on ourselves, instead we were working with a team of other people who had been organizing this conference for several years now – and we were happy to help! So 9 of us (about half of our team), embarked on what would be the longest distance yet for us to travel for a retreat. 600 miles later (one-way) and after 12 hours in our beautiful blue bus (a trip that would normally take 9 hours in a car), we had arrive and were eagerly looking forward to an amazing weekend with over 100 teens for the conference! Overall, the trip and the conference were both a huge success! Through this trip, God showed us a glimpse of what He has in store for our future as a ministry – and we are more than ready to rise to the occasion and serve!

Fullscreen capture 1112015 52051 PM.bmp

 

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said; “send me!” ”  – Isaiah 6:8
“He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” ”  – Matthew 4:19

 

 

 

We’ll let the rest of the story be told by several of our team members. First, our newest member…

IMG_8963

Bethany Hughes… First fact about Missouri: it is a lot colder than Georgia weather. I was not expecting it to be cold and stay cold ALL day, plus they had a constant wind (brrr). Despite the cold, Missouri is sooo beautiful. We had perfect timing and were able to be there when the leaves were changing and falling (I could sit and watch leaves for days…it’s one of my favorite hobbies). An amazing thing in Missouri was to see a Catholic church almost every 2 miles. Quite different from what us southerners are used to, with there being maybe one per city.

IMG_20151018_105055812Trips are always exciting. I love the planning, organization, details, and the adventure of the actual trip. The Missouri trip was a bit different for me. I wasn’t in control; I didn’t know all the details or the organization. I didn’t know I would be able to go until two weeks before the trip. The scariest part of going to Missouri was knowing that I was getting ready to embark on a twelve hour bus ride with seven complete strangers (no big deal right!?!). Well that was going to change soon. There is no better way to bond with your new team members than on an twelve hour bus ride (even though a majority of the time was spent sleeping). I will save you all from the boring details and just tell you about the awesomeness.

The exciting points of the trip for me was making pb&j’s on a moving bus (that was a challenge!), jam sessions, games, and getting to talk and know IMG_20151015_141351129my fellow teammates. What was even more awesome was being able to lead the team in my favorite form of prayer – the rosary. On our way to Wentzville we made a pit stop in St. Louis, where God gave us the opportunity to visit the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The Basilica is the largest and most beautiful church I have had the opportunity to visit. Along with just being able to see the splendor of the church, we were given the grace and honor of going to the back to see their relics. What a true honor it was to be in the same room as a piece of the original cross. I mean can you imagine? Being in the same place as a piece of the cross that our Lord was actually crucified on. What a humbling experience. After our stop at the Basilica we made our way downtown. We went to hand out the pb&j sandwiches that we had made on the trip up, which proved to be a little harder than we thought when we didn’t find that many hungry people on the streets. But God works in wonderful ways and we finally found ourselves in front of a homeless shelter and were able to give a group of men the sandwiches and fruit that we had left. We we were able to talk to and witness to our brothers in Christ there, and even signed one man’s arm cast and prayed with him.

Our next stop was Wentzville, Missouri where the conference was being held. Here I just want to thank our amazing host family who opened their homes and hearts to us! At the actual retreat I helped with a bit of everything, wherever they needed me. I also got to get out of my comfort zone and lead a small group. Small groups is one of my weaknesses…I always feel inadequate in helping lead/teach others about following and living their faith. Through this trip God was able “gird my loins” by renewing my trust in my capabilities through the Holy Spirit.

It was such a blessing that God put the Mobile Mission in my life, I am so joyful to be the newest member of the team…well I should say family. God revealed to me piece by piece throughout the weekend how He plans on using my life for His glory. How He can work through me to show everyone that they are adequate enough, that God created them in His image for a purpose.

IMG_20151015_153901

Evan Glowzinski… This was a beautiful and blessed opportunity for all of us. To leave our home state and travel to help with a retreat in a location none of us have ever been to. We traveled as missionaries sleeping on a bus, and literally living on what could be considered the 8th sacrament for youth ministers: coffee. Traveling together strengthened bonds of friendships and even started a few others. For me, going through the ups and downs that always seem to happen before a retreat is always made more beautiful when surrounded by those you love and serve with. One of the highlights for me, outside of the retreat, was getting to visit the Cathedral Basilica of St Louis. This was the first time I was able to see a church this beautiful and to have it be a pilgrimage before the retreat truly helped set the tone of service for me.

Tony Roberts… First of all, the Mobile Mission bus was a perfect road trip vehicle…20151015_143454everyone had a spot to sleep and a nice window view. We made peanut butter sandwiches in the bus to hand out in St. Louis and we visited the Cathedral Basilica and saw all the beautiful art and relics. This was a truly impactful visit, even though it was just a stop in our way to the conference. The hospitality in Missouri was amazing, and I loved seeing all the Catholic churches on every corner. The conference was held at a church built in the 1800’s with a beautiful altar. Traveling halfway across the country to help with a conference we’d never been to – we didn’t know what to expect, but the teens attending were very excited to be there and all the volunteers and other speakers were great. The highlight of the trip for me would be Saturday night adoration when the priest walked around the whole room with the monstrance, stopping in front of each and every person there.

Check out more pictures from our trip!

race_260_photo_11321860

What a Beautiful Mess!

Mud, dirt, sawdust, grease, sweat….you name it, I love being messy. It usually means that I have been doing something I really enjoy. Or working on a project I know I will be particularly proud of when it’s finished. And who doesn’t like to be proud of what they’ve done? When I choose to get messy, boy, oh boy do I embrace it. Like my uncle once said…anything worth doing, is worth over-doing!

But you know what, it isn’t always that way. There are plenty of times when I find myself in the midst of a mess that I wasn’t expecting. Like topping off the the tank in my car…and spilling gas all over my best pair of dress shoes. Or when the dogs bust into the house after romping in a mud hole…and they track that glorious red Georgia clay all over the white carpet.

The emotions usually follow the same path for me. I deny (well maybe nobody notices the puddle of gas, and I can just drive off). I blame (the stupid defective gas pump!). I get angry (those stupid flea bags!).

But none of that changes what happens in the end. You see, it doesn’t matter whether the mess was my fault or not. It doesn’t matter what caused these disasters to happen. I am now the proud owner of the responsibility for cleaning it up. It doesn’t matter if I was changing the brakes on my car, or scrubbing muddy paw prints out of the carpet…there is a certain sense of relief I feel when everything is cleaned up, put back into it’s proper place, and looks as good as new.

It occurs to me that my faith journey is just a series of messes that have been cleaned up. And that my spiritual messiness falls into the same two categories. There have been numerous times that I have found myself in the confessional, knowing FULL well that I deliberately chose to make a certain “mess” (a sin), and that I now have to get out the bristle brush and scrub the stubborn dirt off my hands.

But there have also been plenty of times that I have found myself in the middle of a sinful mess, not really knowing how I got there, or what caused it to happen. I usually start with denial (“Well, this isn’t really THAT big of a sin. Everyone else did it too). I blame (ok, yeah, this clearly is a sin, but someone or something MADE me do it). And I get angry (Dang it! Why did I let myself do this? I have NO willpower. I’m a horrible person). Regardless, I must clean it all up. And I am eternally grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Nothing compares to that feeling of a clean soul that I always get from receiving absolution.

I encourage all of you to take advantage of this beautiful gift we have been given. And don’t forget that the bigger the mess, the better we feel when it’s all cleaned up. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve caused our guardian angels to put their “palm to forehead”. It doesn’t matter if we are covered in mud head to toe. We can always bring our mess to Jesus. And know that all of our brothers and sisters are standing with us, each with their own particular mess. And remember that not only can He get us cleaned up…He will continue to shower us with the Grace we need to try and avoid that mud hole the next time. But that if we fall into it anyway, well…..wash, rinse, repeat.

Bless you all, and keep up the good work!

Do you feel like God is putting something on your heart to write about? Click here to become a guest blogger on our page!