One of the longest weeks ever…

Throughout this last week there have been many reasons why I have not been able to find time to post. One of the primary reasons was because there was simply no time to be able to process my thoughts, and there were more important things that needed to be taken care of in wake of the events of this last week. The other reason was an intimidation factor – that there are simply no words that could begin to describe the thoughts and feelings that were going through my mind. Even now, more than one week later, I still don’t know if I have all of the words. But I do know that if I don’t attempt to process these thoughts, I won’t be able to move forward in my postings.

Tuesday brought with it a tragedy that altered the following days, and in many ways have changed things where I can only begin to process. A family very close to me lost their young son that day – completely unexpected and shocked us all. I’ll never forget the look on my friend’s face when she delivered me the news, and how at that point things would never be the same. The following days brought about a great deal of prayer, contemplation, recollection, tears, hope, confusion and a range of emotions that don’t even have words to them. I went to work during the week, worried about school, did my NCSC work but it all seemed really empty. Although I remained busy my mind kept drifting back into this state of grief, this sense of not being able to do enough. Emotionally I remained in solidarity with the grieving family, and it was helpful to do what little I could to help the family during this tragic time. I was amazed at the faithfulness and hope the family exhibited, and just a sincere admiration for strength. I know that they are grieving, but there still seems to be a sense of peace that has surrounded their household. I know that these coming weeks will have their share of sadness, but I think that this will also be a time of healing.

This healing time began on Friday night with the viewing and a special prayer service. At this point this young man was surrounded by many whom he had such a profound connection in his life – friends, family, young, old. I was re-united with friends whom I had not seen for years, and those that have traveled many miles to be here – to celebrate this young man’s life. If there is any good that can come from this tragedy, it’s the connections that were re-established. A phrase I heard over the weekend was "I’m sorry that it took circumstances like these for me to reach out to you." I said those words myself to many people.

The healing process culminated on Saturday morning, where over 900 people gathered to celebrate this young man’s life. I had the honor and privilege of playing my drums in the choir, and bringing the gift of music to this funeral Mass. In a sense I almost felt like the character in the popular Christmas song "Little Drummer Boy". I had no gifts that I could bring this young man to honor his life – I don’t know what I could do. But I was blessed that I had the gift to drum and help make this liturgy special.

The Mass was powerful. This was probably the most beautiful and spiritual Mass that I’ve ever been to – it’s strange to be saying these things about a funeral – but it was truly a gift. To look up and see a church so crowded that people were sitting on the floor, in the aisles to be able to be part of this celebration of a young man’s life. The love that was felt – God made His presence known. I was profoundly struck by seeing people who had left John XXIII so long ago through frustration and feeling disenfranchised. None of that mattered Saturday – no one cared about the reasons that drove people away. For one day people forgot about all of the bullshit that complicates our faith community. People forget that they were outcast from a place that used to welcome them so well. Everyone forgot all of the complications and the reasons for feeling the need to leave. For one day John XXIII felt like old times: from the congregation to the music to the celebrant and the participants – this was truly an amazing gift left by this young man’s legacy.

For me, Saturday was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life. Someday when I have children and grandchildren I will tell them about this day, and the transformations that took place within myself and outside of myself. I think back to my experience drumming, and how difficult this was. I have played drums for almost 14 years, played hundreds of shows/concerts/performances. I have played at Mass for almost 5 years, helping enhance the liturgical experience. Never before had I felt an outpouring of emotion behind my drum set as I did on Saturday. It took all that I had within me to keep me composed. I remember playing the David Haas’ Magnificat, praying for the strength to allow me to keep myself together, to play my best and pay tribute to this young man, and ultimately to God. I sat there during the second reading and Gospel, asking God to give me strength. I will carry this memory for the rest of my life.

Only now can I begin to process the impact that this young man’s life had on my own, how he touched us all, The healing process has begun and the grief is still ongoing, but I will continue to pray for grace for the young man, the family that now loves him from afar, and for all those whom he touched with both his life and his death.

Pastoral Council Retreat & Broncos Defeat

Ah yes, so another week has passed and another week of neglecting my blogging… Do you see a pattern now? As I’m writing this, I’m still getting over the shock of the Broncos losing the AFC Championship and watching our trip to the Super Bowl go down the drain. In some ways I’m glad I didn’t blog about my excitement earlier this week, because now I don’t have to compare it to the disappointment I have now… Last week the build-up was amazing. In honor of Jake Plummer’s grizzly beard I decided to stop shaving and grow my own beard. By Sunday morning I was beginning to get pretty hairy, and I was imagining what the beard would look like by Super Bowl, but now that hope has passed, and I went home and cleaned my painted face and shaved the whole face, including the goat… It feels weird, but so does not winning the Championship game and going to the Super Bowl… Argghh….

A few pictures though:

Emily, Bethany & I in front of Mile High before the game

Bethany and I at the end of the game, being "Sad Bronco Fans"

Of course this week has been busy with all sorts of activities…

Pastoral Council Retreat

So it’s official, I am no longer in Pastoral Council!! My tenure as Pastoral Council Chair and as a student representative ended last weekend with the Pastoral Council Retreat. To finally be done with Pastoral Council – I cannot convey the level of relief that I now feel.

Please don’t take my relief and excitement as a negative reflection of Pastoral Council, or the members that have been and are currently part of the group. I think the intentions of Pastoral Council are noble, and the Council is lucky to have the members they have today. There are many great minds around that table, and I’m privilege to have been a part of that. However after 3 & 1/2 years on Council my departure was long overdue, especially after some of the events that transpired during my time on the Council. The leadership hardship and struggles that took place over the last three years have resulted in my ultimate disenfranchisement of the decision-making process at John XXIII. I have attempted to reconcile my struggles and feelings, but ultimately I think what will be best for both myself and PC is my bowing out.

Throughout our retreat this weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about where things are going – the opportunities and the potential struggles that exist. I do admit that part of me will miss being informed on the issues, participating in the discussions and deliberations and the idea of shaping our Parish. However my feelings of relief were reinforced by an event that happened on Saturday morning:

One of the primary goals of this retreat was to better understand how exactly leadership in our Parish works with our Pastor, and to define the process and expectations as to what Pastoral Council will do and what capacity they will function in. We had a facilitator graciously give of his time to come mediate the discussion, and offer guidance on how we go about defining our leadership structure. The morning started off with great potential – the discussion was very fruitful. However when we got ready to do a round table brainstorming session of our expections of each other, the Pastor got up and said "Well, [the other Priest] and I need to go hear Confessions at [another Parish]. We’ll be back later."

You have got to be kidding me! Here we have 25 people that gave their early Saturday morning to be here, and you essentially made the rest of the morning meaningless! How can we define the appropriate expectations of leadership between the Pastor and leadership groups when the Pastor isn’t present to take part in the discussion.

I appreciate the efforts of the facilitator and the group to continue the brainstorming session. I thought the discussion was very fruitful and the participants definitely benefited from the discussion. At the same time, because the Pastor wasn’t there leads back to the same problem of lack of communication which leads to making uninformed decisions and not communicating them!

Obviously I’m not suggesting that a Priest should not offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but when he agreed to volunteer for the other Parish did he not think about the impact of this decision? We planned this date in the early fall for the sole purpose of offering a time that would work for everyone. If you’re going to schedule around this retreat then the least you can do is inform us with more than a 10 second notice! By double-booking this event and not informing anyone, I interpreted this action as a statement about Pastoral Council’s value in the leadership process. It’s actions like these which convince me that things are not going to change at J23 any time soon, and remind me that one can only bang their head against that wall so many times before you can’t get up.

I’m going to keep praying for Pastoral Council, the J23 staff, the Pastor and everyone involved in this leadership process. I see the potential, enthusiasm and energy that was present throughout the weekend – and I realize how much my experiences have caused me to lose those qualities. I hope that a change occurs while Pastoral Council is still abundant in those gifts. Right now – I feel at peace with my departure…

On the other hand, my NCSC Involvement continues to be life-giving and a positive source of energy. Since Conference it seems like things have been fast-paced with no signs of stopping. I still feel comfortable with the workload, and I only get more excited with all of the projects we have ramping up. Something interesting : I am 22 days into being the PR Chair and as of tonight I’ve sent 124 emails. By comparison for the entire year as Western Regional chair I sent 678 emails. I don’t think it’s so much that I’m busier, as much as that I’m shifting the kind of work I’m doing. I am now spending a lot of time on email though…

Great Broncos Weekend!

Okay, so excitement is beginning to subside a little bit and I can talk about why this weekend was so cool – and yes, it has everything to do with the Broncos this weekend.

Yesterday I went to my first playoff game ever. I’ve had season tickets for 3 years now, but we haven’t had a home playoff game since we won the Superbowl back in 98-99. I went not really knowing what to expect. Bethany and I got to the game really early, getting to the stadium over 2 hours before kick-off. We were going to meet my buddy Matt and his family for tailgating. Since they hadn’t arrived, Bethany and I sat down at a picnic table and worked on my face paint a little bit more. While we were there, a reporter and photographer from The Denver Post came up to us and asked us if they could take our picture and ask us some questions. We were really excited to think we were going to get in the paper. As it turns out our picture didn’t make it in, but we got mentioned in their article:

United by football

Jeromy Gaudreau and Bethany Miles bonded over football.

"The first time we talked, we were asking, ‘What do you like?’ and our first response was, ‘Denver Broncos,"’ Miles, a 20-year-old Colorado State University psychology student, recalled.

"We love the Broncos," said Gaudreau, a computer information systems student. "I really hope they punch the Patriots in the mouth today."

The couple, who have been together for seven months, celebrated their courtship by lovingly painting each other’s faces blue and orange as they sat on a bench outside the main gate two hours before the game.

"You gotta show your colors!" Miles said.

So not too shabby Then after the reporters left another guy with some press credentials came and took our picture. I didn’t find out where he was from, but that was pretty cool. Here is how we turned out though:

Then Matt and his family arrive and we make our way to the parking lot to find their car. After we got there and cracked open our first beers, not even 5 minutes later a Mercedes pulls into the spot across from us and out walked John Elway! I kid you not, it was really him! We were only a few yards away from him! We didn’t get to talk to him or anything ,but I did get a picture of him! At that point Bethany turned to me and said "This is a sign – we are definitely going to win!"

And she was right! The next four hours were an exciting and excruciating experience, but ultimately the Broncos got the win! It got loud in the stadium, really loud. It was so loud that I was screaming my lungs out, and I couldn’t even hear myself – it just became noise.

And now here we are a day later, the Steelers beat the Colts, which now means that THE BRONCOS GET THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AT HOME!!! I have tickets to that game sitting right next to me! I am soooo excited!!!

However, there are two things this weekend that really bugged me:

1) The National Press Coverage – After reading the stories on ESPN, I am seriously frustrated. All of the stories were more about how the Patriots lost the game than the Broncos actually winning it & beating them. You’d think that the Patriots didn’t play anybody due to the way the stories were written. Then a column written by Gene Wojciechowski really set me off – you’d think this guy had major money on the game or something. What a jerk! I can’t wait until the Broncos go to the Super Bowl and I can write a nasty letter telling him to eat his words.

2) CU students piss me off! Being up in the cheap seats is actually really nice because you’re up there with the real fans – the fans that work their asses off just so they can afford to come to the game. You know there were some people who incurred some major credit card debt in order to get to this game. Then it’s all cheapened by people like the ones sitting in front of us. There were two girls and two guys, and all throughout the game they couldn’t care less about football or being at the game. The only time they cheered in the first half were the girls yelling "Take it off Tom Brady!".. Then they must have literally left their seats every 2 minutes to get more beer. I wasn’t keeping score, but I’m pretty sure that each of them had 4 beers each. They spent most of the game on their cell phones, stood up and got up at the most inappropriate times, and the only time they moved was when some R&B song came on – causing the girls to just thrust their hips around and begin humping each other. Bethany and I spent most of the game just rolling out eyes at each other, asking "Where did these people come from?".. Well I got my answer. When the Broncos scored their first touch down near the end of the first half the "Hey Song" was playing and right in the middle of the song they did the stupid cheer I loathe:

"F*** them up, F*** them up, go CU!"

At that point it all came clear to me, and everything made sense. No wonder they were acting like complete spoiled brats that couldn’t care less about the game – because they haven’t earned a thing in their life! This is what I can’t stand about CU: it’s full of students who haven’t worked a day and the next time they actually earn something will be the first time!

In the 4th quarter, it was on. When the Broncos scored their third touch-down and on cue the CU students did their "F*** them up" chant, I responded with the "DIRTY HIPPIES".. At that point one of the girls gave me the look of death, then proceeded to tell the other girl about it, which then told the guys about it. It was funny because you could see her talk to the guy, point at me, then the guy having this look on his face saying, "So?!?"… It was awesome. Earlier in the game I joined a few other fans in yelling at this girl to sit down but she ignored us, but if I knew all it took was one CU/CSU chant to shut her up I would have done it a lot sooner in the game…. I just hope they won’t be back next week.

One last thing: One of the coolest experiences I ever had was after the game, walking out of the stadium. Never before had I been surrounded in a crowd that was exuberantly happy and joyous. Everyone was giving high-5’s cheering and as excited as could be! Those were 10 of the coolest minutes in my life – it was amazing.

Early January Update

It’s been a crazy few days!  One would think that after coming back from Chicago things would  begin to clam down, but that is rarely the case…

As part of transitioning my role as the NCSC’s Western Regional Chair, I flew the new chairperson up to Fort Collins this weekend so that we could do the transition in person.  We ended up getting a pretty cheap flight, but the reason it was cheap was because he arrived at 2:30am!  While I was picking him up it didn’t seem like the smartest idea in the world, but we managed to sleep in enough on Saturday to make up for everything.  We ended up having a really nice time this weekend, showing him a bit of Fort Collins, and of course doing lots of work to transition things off.

It may seem a little extreme to do the transition in person, especially when every National Team transition takes place over great distances, but I think in the end I did this more for my sake than for New Chair.  With my incoming responsibilities as PR Chair piling up, I didn’t want to sacrifice the Western Region’s transition for my own responsibilities.  At the same time, if I was able to do the transition really well and get the New Chair off and running, it will hopefully mean that I won’t feel the need to call him and keep reminding him about all the little things I would have missed by rushing the transition.  So this weekend I put quite a bit on hold, but I think it was a calculated sacrifice which will ultimately be better for the New Chair, myself & PR and the NCSC.  Now I just need to play a lot of catch-up!  It’ll be good though, I love doing all of this PR work – as long as I can keep my head afloat…

Some other really exciting stuff has happened in the last few days:

1) With Christmas gone and a little extra money in my account, I decided to treat myself to a late-Christmas present – I reapplied new drum heads to all of my drums!  This has been something that has been long overdue.  I had these really old PinStripes that were three years old and all but dead, and I was really eager to try something new on my drums.  Borrowing a page from my favorite drummer’s playbook I got some really cool-looking Ebony Ambassadors and placed them on all of my Toms.  I put some clear Ambassadors on the bottom Toms, and got a new Emperor X snare head.  Bethany helped me put them on my drums on Thursday, gave them a few days to stretch, set them up Saturday at church and here’s what they looked like:

It looks really sharp!! The toms sound pretty decent, I definitely need to do some more work on the snare, but it’s really coming along

2) LAST NIGHT WAS MY LAST PASTORAL COUNCIL MEETING!!!!  You can’t imagine how happy I am about this – I will need to do a Pastoral Council reflection post sometime soon, but basically after three years on Pastoral Council and some very large shifts in my parish, I’m really looking forward to having free Monday nights again..  Now I can watch Monday Night Footb- oh wait…

3) I GOT PLAYOFF TICKETS TODAY!!!!  They are here, there is no longer any doubt: Saturday at 6pm at Mile High Stadium – I’ll be there, watching THE BRONCOS BEAT THE PATRIOTS!

That’s it for now – more to come later

Back from…

I don’t know where to begin.  I could come out with some apology about not posting since Christmas Eve, but you’ve heard the same apology before.  I don’t think I need to state the obvious – I’ve been busy and things have been crazy.  Since I posted on Christmas Eve I had an amazing time at the Broncos/Raiders game.  My good friend Emily invited me to sit in her 4th row seats, so we painted our faces and went crazy.  Better yet, my sisters who were sitting in my seats managed to make it down to where Emily and I were sitting during the second half.  We had such a great time heckling the Raider players, especially Jerry Porter.  We also had a really fun time giving Raider fan a lot of crap as well.  There was one sitting a few rows behind us, and I really tore into him during the 3rd quarter, especially when he made fun of me and "other Broncos guys that were waving pom-poms."  I told him that we were cheering for our team, which is something Raider fans probably aren’t used to, with their heads buried in their hands during Raiders games and all.  It was classic…

I also wanted to include some pictures of us from the game:

The Christmas Eve UPS situation got resolved, but it took a lot of stress, a lot of flexibility on my part, and in the end I had to meet a driver in a parking lot in order to get my package.  It was the biggest joke of all time…  Let’s just say next time I need to ship something urgent, I’ll take the no-brainer and go FedEx.

I just got back from Chicago, where I went out for the NCSC Conference.  I flew out on Tuesday the 27th and flew back on Tues the 3rd.  This turned out to be simply an amazing experience, and probably was my best Conference experience yet.  That said, the week was very busy, very draining and I was extremely sleep-deprived. I have only begun to recuperate from the experience.  During the 4 nights of Conference I collectively slept for about 12 hours, and my first opportunity to really sleep in was on Tuesday night when I returned.  Even at the end-of-day Thursday I still find myself needing a nap and looking forward to another full night of sleep.  My health unfortunately has begun to be impacted as well…   I’m not really sick, but at the same time I’m not feeling well either.  I think I taxed my immune system heavily last week and with the climate changes, traveling and everything else going on my body is still trying to adjust.

In my discernment process, I felt the calling to re-discern for NCSC leadership and am excited to now be in the role of Public Relations Chair.  I am really excited for this opportunity . I think that a lot of the gifts and skills I have feed into this position really well, and after spending a great deal of last year wearing two different hats, I’m really excited to be able to concentrate my energies into a single part of NCSC.  I am also really excited to be working with the new PR Committee.  There are so many enthusiastic, talented people who are excited to help.  I am now left with the challenge of finding the best way to utilize people’s talents effectively, build community, and offer ways for them to grow their skills.  This is a big challenge, but it’s one I’m very excited about and really feels good.

I am also excited about the friendships that grew while I was in Chicago, as well as some new ones that have formed.  One of the challenges will be to continue these connections beyond the Conference, but it’s again another one I look forward to…

There’s so much more to say, but I need to go to bed and continue to catch up on sleep, but to make my entry look bigger I’ll add some pictures

Erin & I after the Regional Olympics… I was pissed our region came in last!


Joanna (from NMSU) and I

Emily, Leanne & I – 3rd time around the Conference block together!


The 2005 National Team – it’s been a blast!

Our Western Region Leadership Team – Team West

The Western Region at the Regional Olympics!  We represented with the Gold!


Amy (an amazing new friend) and I