UPS News

Geez…  Well to say I’ve been slacking is definitely and understatement.  As you can imagine, I’ve been immersed with activities all week long, and things are only going to get busier. Since school has ended, my time has been primarily focused on work and NCSC.  Our leadership conference starts on Wednesday the 28th, and between getting things ready in my region, getting things ready on a technology perspective, and finally getting things ready personally, I haven’t really had time for pretty much anything else.  I’ve had a chance to mix in some good time with Bethany, social time, fun time – those things that keep me sane, but unfortunately every time I sat down at the computer to blog all of these priorities kept popping up in my head and I used my computer time for other things…

Things are going well..  On the J23/NCSC Renewal Drama I am happy to say that things have taken a dramatic turn for the better.  Following up from my last entry, we finally did get a meeting scheduled between the University Ministry staff, the Pastor and myself.  This was held on Thursday.  Going into the meeting, I was not sure what to expect, but in the end I was pleasantly surprised.  The meeting was very respectful, and for the first time I truly felt that a genuine dialog was taking place.  Our Pastor surprised me by asking some very relevant and poignant questions, and because our Pastor took a genuine interest in NCSC the Campus Ministers reconsidered the positions they have previously taken.  AT the end of the day, our membership was renewed (it was actually done prior to the meeting – a pleasant surprise), and I think there is a lot of opportunity for the J23 students attending Conference to engage in a healthy discussion and supplement our Campus Ministry programming – one giant weight lifted off my shoulders.

That being said, there are still 23 other weights on my shoulders about NCSC Conference Prep for my region and all those other developments. Unlike the J23/NCSC weight, this feels like a very healthy, positive weight and the energy behind this is extremely life-giving.  I am blessed to have a proactive and involved regional team that is actually doing most of the work, my role has simply been to coordinate the activities and make sure they have all of the resources that they need.  Still, there is quite a bit that I need to do and looking between now (Christmas Eve) and the 27th when my flight heads out, there is a ton to do..  It’ll get done though

So that’s the gist of it for now.  I could go on longer, but as time permits I’ll definitely add more.. However, there are two big thoughts of the day which I thought I’d reflect on.

#1 – UPS Sucks! I did a lot of my Christmas shopping on-line this year,  and thankfully most of it has come on time.  I wish I could say "all" but as of right now there’s a package that was supposed to be here yesterday that did in fact arrive, but I wasn’t home to get it.  Apparently it needed a signature – which the shipping company didn’t tell me…  No problem, they’ll be back before 10:30…  Except I call the # and find out they mean 10:30 on Tuesday the 27th.  Two problems: 1) It’s after Christmas and most of these are presents!! 2) I’m flying out at 6:15am on the 27th, so I obviously won’t be home…  So I"m screwed.  I call UPS and get their stupid run-around automated system that really doesn’t tell you anything or help you.  So when it asked me what I want to do, I yelled "I want to talk to a real person!" Funny thing is that it understood me and was going to connect me to their Customer Service… I’m in luck, until I get this stupid recording – due to the high volume of packages their customer service is all hiding under their desks..  Thanks, way to be there in the moment of need!  What the heck is this?  Christmas comes on December 25th of each year, it’s not like it’s a holiday that moves around and you can’t plan around this!  Department stores hire seasonal workers, why can’t freaking UPS staff their call center so they can explain to me why I can’t go to their place and pick up my package on Saturday.  So now I’m down to my last resort: go to their warehouse/pick-up thing and if necessary break in to get my package….  We’ll see how this goes… I’ve never had this problem with FedEx!  Thanks for nothing UPS!

Last thing for today: Today I finally squeezed in time to go shoe shopping to replace my brown sketchers.  Over the last year, these have been my favorite pair of shoes.  I wear them at least 6 days out of the week during the cold months (when I need to wear pants).  Unfortunately over the last few months they’ve began to ware down and show some visible wear on the outside of the shoes, so I managed to find a new pair of black sketchers to add to my shoe wardrobe.  I was figuring out how I’d effectively break these shoes in and still be able to use my old brown shoes as well…  So I get home, and take my shoe off the lazy way – I take my other foot and place it on the heel while lifting my foot out of the shoe – this is how I take my shoes of 9 times out of 10.  Well no sooner than me bringing home a new pair of shoes, the entire bottom sole (or whatever that part of the shoe is) rips of the shoe, and now my right shoe is in two different pieces…  Maybe it’s irony, but I’d like to think that God has an amazing sense of humor

More J23 thoughts

Things have been so unbelievably busy over the last 10 days, and between finals, work, J23 & NCSC activities, blogging fell pretty down on my priorities list, but hopefully I’ll be able to catch up a bit and allot some more time in these coming weeks…

The most pressing issue I’ve been facing on this blog (and arguably in my life right now) is this J23/NCSC storm I’ve been trying to weather my way through.  Since my meetings, many developments have taken place.  So I’ll try to breeze through them and start from the beginning.

My blog may have gotten some traffic throughout the weekend, because I ended up sending the link to the "Locker Room Reaction" entry to a few interested parties that I’ve been keeping updated: J23’s former Pastor, our UMAC Chairperson, and our former Campus Minister at J23 – all of which have been extremely supportive of Campus Ministry and NCSC.  Aside from some advice from my former Campus Minister, I didn’t receive any immediate reaction – which was to be expected during this busy time of year.

By the time Monday rolled around I hadn’t received any reactions to my "Reaction", but I did receive a response from the Campus Ministers from the meeting.  To summarize: the jury is still out as to whether we can support NCSC as a campus minister.  We’d like to help the people that are going, but we don’t have $100.  If you’d like the four of you can give us the money and we’ll register, or you guys can do a fund-raiser and we can get the registration money that way.  What I took away from it was that if I didn’t do anything, we weren’t going to be registered.

At that point I felt pretty frustrated and conflicted.  Truth be told, I had the $100 that I’d be willing to put towards this, but I struggle with buying University Ministry something that they don’t really want.  In their email they cited financial reasons, but it seemed more like an excuse than a complication.  It’d be one thing if they wrote me saying "We love NCSC!  We really want to support it, but we don’t have any money available.", but the email I was seemed more like "Well, we don’t know… I guess can renew…. if you come up with the money.."

At that point I continued to weigh my options, contacting the students immediately impacted by this issue, emailed the former Pastor, UMAC Chair, former Campus Minister.  A few days passed and I was leaning more towards the option of registering our NCSC membership at another parish.  Then Wednesday passed…

Finals ended for the UMAC Chair (who is also a professor at CSU) and he finally got a chance to check his email, resulting in him writing a spontaneous, eloquent, passionate letter urging the CM staff to reconsider their decision regarding the NCSC Membership.  The email was excellent, one definitely worth saving in a file drawer somewhere.  I felt very supported and was hoping positive change could come from this.

Sure enough I got a call Thursday, from the Campus Ministry staff saying that they read the Chair’s email and would like to meet with the two of us on Friday.  I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect.  I told a few people that after the email the Chair wrote, if they were going to say anything besides "We’re sorry, here’s your check." I didn’t see any point in being there.  Things didn’t go that easy.

The meeting Friday was interesting to say the least.  I spent 75% of was a waste of time, and we shifted from dead end to dead end.  First they weren’t willing to concede that any changes were going to result from this meeting – that the point was for us to accept and understand their decision (with no opportunity to change it).  Then we went around in circles about how they never said they weren’t going to renew the NCSC membership, and how we got that out of their email was beyond them.  There were so many times where I just wanted to go Eric Cartman on them: "Screw you guys, I’m going home…" – so many points during that meeting that I wanted to just get up and leave.

About 3/4’s of the way through the meeting things started to turn for the better, we came to a partial understanding, and hammered out a short-term solution I could live with.  Apparently the issue still comes down to funding, and that they still can’t come up with $100 from their budget to pay for this.  We agreed to go to the Pastor as a united front and ask for money out of the general parish funds.  I left it up to the CM Staff to schedule the meeting and kept my availability open to them.

I’m optimistically predicting that our Pastor won’t see this as a big issue and just sign the $100 check, but we’ll see what happens.  If the meeting somehow goes south, or doesn’t even happen (by Thursday) I’m going to just fill out the registration form and put the supportive (other) Parish as our membership parish.  I’m sick of dealing with this crap..  It’s funny to think about how much time I’ve wasted on this, and when you think about how much I make an hour, just how much money this has cost me in my productivity (granted, none of this time was done during work hours, but this could have been time that I could have gotten caught up on work), and that’s not even considering how much the time the Campus Ministers have wasted on this – we could have paid for this membership many times over… 

So that’s the short version of this issue…  Yes, I have been doing other things in my life this past week, and I will post updates (and pictures) as well, but I needed to get this off my chest and hopefully out of my hair…

NCSC – J23 Meeting Locker Room Reaction…

I am literally writing this on the heels of my NCSC/J23 meeting, and I’m basically processing my meeting on my blog while in my head.  You could say that you’re getting the "locker room reaction".  I base this analogy off of football games, where the media goes into the locker room right after the game.  At that point adrenaline is high, emotions are rampant and every once and a while you’ll get an outburst of emotion.  It could be anger, to exuberant joy, to crying (unless you’re Kansas City Chief’s coach Dick Vermeil, who cries after every game).  Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn on the faucets today, but the point I’m making is that right now I’m led by emotion, and after reason sets in I might feel differently…

The meeting went about as I expected – which isn’t necessarily good.  It could have gone better than I was hoping for, but then again it could have gone worse.  However, I did leave disappointed with the result.

Good Things: I think I did a pretty decent job of going in with an open mind.  I didn’t make any personal attacks or belittle their opinions by any means.  I think they made an honest effort to listen to what I had to say.  They asked some very good questions, made some very challenging statements; and I manged to give them an appropriate response for each of them.  As far as discussions go, I think it was quite effective.

Bad Things:  Well the worst thing – I went in there hoping that there would be some change, and I left believing that there won’t be a significant change any time soon.  I really didn’t hear any logically objective concerns about our church’s involvement with NCSC.  All of the concerns I got were emotionally-led subjective concerns that namely one of the campus ministers had.  This person went to NCSC last year as a student, and I think when they went they had the expectation that the conference was going to be more like the FOCUS Conference.  While he was making his case he drew direct comparisons to the FOCUS Conference, alleging that the NCSC Conference was not as "spiritual" as FOCUS.  This person went home with a "bitter taste in his mouth" about the Conference and felt that his time would have been better spent attending the FOCUS Conference rather than the NCSC Conference.

Both Campus Ministers spoke about the fact that they didn’t know much about NCSC, and because they didn’t know much about it they didn’t feel comfortable "endorsing" NCSC with our campus ministry’s membership.

I responded with both of those concerns, conceding that perhaps the Conference didn’t meet the Campus Minister’s expectations of what "spirituality" meant.  I told him that I think that he connects with spirituality through catechises and liturgical sacraments, and while both were present at NCSC (there was daily Mass, two "big" Masses, Reconciliation, praise & worship, etc.), they were also integrated with all six aspects of Empowered By the Spirit.  There was so much more diverse programming available: from the opportunity to network with students from all over the country – with a variety of Campus Ministry programs and types, there were opportunities for students to have discussion about various international and social justice issues, there were opportunities for students to discern for leadership and connect with Campus Ministries more on a regional and national level, and I went on and on.  The point I was making that just because that particular student/campus minister didn’t get much out of the experience doesn’t mean other students took away much more.  It also doesn’t mean that this may be an unique opportunity to involve students who may not normally be involved in programming at J23.

In regards to their concern that they may not know much about it – I was deeply challenged by their sentiment in this statement.  Our campus ministry’s affiliation with NCSC was there before I came around to Campus Ministry, and was there long before any of the current campus ministry staff came around.  I struggle because they’re leaning too much on the inclination to fear something that they do not necessarily understand.  I attempted to draw some comparisons between our campus ministry’s affiliation with CCMA (Catholic Campus Ministry Association) and NCSC.  They hardly know anything about CCMA programming, yet somehow it’s very important that they become and remain members of CCMA.  Yet they use the same argument against the NCSC, even though these two groups are partner organizations.

I could go back and forth on points and counter-points, but I think that would be too tedious. However, I think that this issue is broken down in two ways: Methodology/Programming & Financials.

In regards to Methodology/Programing, I’m not sure if we’ll be able to come to a common understanding, or if they even want to.  The campus ministers speak about their lack of knowledge and experience in NCSC, yet they do not want to take the time or resources needed to learn more about it.  It was to my dismay to find that they actually had quite a bit of literature about NCSC, as well as all of the copies of the Collegian, the NCSC newsletter, yet they didn’t appear to read them or make their student leaders aware of those materials.  If you’re not going to break open the materials, it’s pretty hard to find value in them!

I think they feel threatened because 3 of the 4 students going to NCSC Conference are students that don’t regularly attend their weekly programming..  At the same time I would venture to say that all of these students who "got something" out of NCSC remain actively engaged in Parish life, are strong members in the Catholic Church, and through their NCSC involvement still have a strong connection to Campus Ministry.   There is part of me that is tempted to think that they’re prejudging the NCSC, simply based on the affiliation of myself and other students like me, who are no longer part of their programming.

I struggle with this because their role as Campus Ministers is not only to provide transforming and life-giving programming for college students, but to also identify and utilize resources and opportunities that would serve ALL students in their Campus Ministry.  This is a tried & true resource for Campus Ministry that has been around John XXIII for 15 years, yet they want to close the door on this because "students who are currently involved probably won’t get much out of this".  This is incredibly short-sighted and goes against what it means to be a campus ministry – you’re turning students away because you’re not willing or able to offer programming that serves them.  I’m not a relativist, two years ago John XXIII was a very life-giving, nurturing and challenging place, but now it’s no longer that for me.  Granted, I have changed over the years, but I think our faith community has been doing most of the changing.

Finances – this one should be a no-brainer but somehow this is a big issue.  Simply: THERE IS MONEY IN THE BUDGET FOR THIS!  There has always been, and unless they’ve made drastic cuts, there should be money for it this year.  Yet somehow they pedaled me this story about how they need to raise money for everything that they do – and they cannot do an activity if they don’t have a way to fund-raise for this.  I simply countered by asking them where their money to pay for CCMA dues comes from, do they have to fund-raise for it?  They didn’t have an answer to that question.  I asked them to discuss this with the Pastor and truly explore if there’s funding available.

I’m pissed because I’m lobbying heavily for our church to find $100 to renew our NCSC membership, yet someone behind the curtain can whip up $40k+ to keep FOCUS here.  Give me a break!

The finances are the least of my worry because I was graciously offered money to pay for the NCSC membership from our previous Pastor, who is now at another church.  While it’s very generous and a testament to how important experienced Campus Ministers consider the NCSC, it’s strange that another church is giving their offertory money to fund something that our church should automatically be doing.  At the same time this isn’t so much about money as it is about principle.  Truth be told, I have money from my Christmas bonus that I could use for the CM Membership renewal – but what’s the point if I (or another church) give our hard-earned money if the people receiving it aren’t willing to understand why it’s important enough for us to do this.  It’d be one thing if they couldn’t understand – education can fix that – but for them not willing to understand is the heart of the problem.

I guess they’re now going to go talk to the Pastor to see if they have the money available, but they indicated that they’d want to meet with me (and it would be great if "I could bring students that actually got something out of NCSC") to discuss this further.

I really don’t know where this is going to go…  Something tells me that NCSC will have Colorado State University membership in Lafayette, CO or we may end up forming the "Colorado State University Catholic Student Coalition" before this is all over.

Perhaps more to come as emotion subsides…

Big Meeting Today

So today is a relatively big day for me, NCSC/J23-wise.  Today I have to meet with the Campus Ministers and convince them that being in NCSC is a good thing, that we need to renew our membership, and that they need to continue to receive emails from the NCSC List-Serve (and should be passing them along to student leaders as well).  Like I’ve said before, I’m really struggling with needing to have this meeting in the first place, and I’m praying that this is hopefully just an educational moment.

Today they rescheduled on me for the second time.  This meeting was supposed to take place last week, then they rescheduled on me the day before (postponing this by a week), and now I got another email today saying that they’re going to push me back 20-30 minutes to have a Alternative Spring Break interview…

Maybe I’m reading into this a little too much, and being a bit too sensitive – but it’s not very respectful to keep jerking me around like this.  And what does it say when I want to have this meeting about the NCSC and you reschedule this meeting for other things that are popping up AFTER we scheduled our original time.  This makes me realize where I fit in their priorities.  I’m kinda pissed I’m being jerked around like this, and I hope this isn’t a preview of what’s to come in today’s meeting.

I’m still about nervous about what’s going to happen.  I have a good sense of what I’m going to say and how I’m hoping this will go, but I really hope that all of us can go into this meeting with an open mind.  What I really hope is that I don’t need to take a defensive position during this meeting and basically defend against their ignorance and pre-judgement.

The benefit I have is that I have an assured end-result.  CSU students will become members no matter what.  Our former Pastor, who is now the Pastor of another church about an hour away has offered to cover registration expenses – so I have a last-resort option.  I really don’t want to use this though, I think it’ll fix things in the short-term, but in the long-run this won’t be a good thing.  It’ll become another way our community is split and I don’t want to build up this "resistance/alternative campus ministry".

So please say a prayer for me today at 4:20ish MST.  I’ll update on how things turn out.