Brother Mickey O'Neill McGrath can't help but grin when he talks about his art studio. It's been a long time coming for the 55-year-old Oblate of St. Frances de Sales who grew up drawing but wasn't able to commit to a full-time art career until 1994.
When the award-winning painter first visited the row house beside Sacred Heart Church in South Camden, N.J., three years ago, it was gutted. But Brother Mickey had a vision for what it could become, and so did the pastor of Sacred Heart, and soon lumber was arriving and electricians were wiring.
The word "bully" evokes emotion. It can stir haunting memories, stories and experiences. Now a big-screen documentary by the same name provokes soul-searching reflections on youth. Pleas from professionals, educators and youth leaders successfully influenced the movie industry to give "Bully" a rating of PG-13, so that, despite actual footage of violent behavior, vulgar language and homosexual themes, young people would be able to view peer abuse on the big screen.
In our times, we are part of a larger culture that has grown accustomed to moving and traveling at great speeds. Not only do we have cars, trains and airplanes to transport us from one side of the world to another, but we also have incredible rocket engines that can even take us to the moon! Granted, the latter is for the few with the resources and the courage to do it.
I participated in an ACTS retreat that was presented in February by a special group of men from Holy Spirit Parish in Maryland Heights. Here is a quick peek at some of my journey.
Thoughts before the retreat:
I am a pilgrim on the earth.
I feel like I am wandering most days, uncertain of my destination and unconfident that I am going where I should. I know You are present in my life, Father. My head and heart tell me that. But so often, I don't actually feel Your presence. Am I supposed to? With so much time spent in prayer and reading Scripture, you'd think I would know.
I have had the privilege of serving the Archdiocese of St. Louis as consultant for Mission Advancement since January 2010. During this time, I was responsible for guiding the consultation and planning processes that preceded the recent announcement of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's priorities for our Mission Advancement Initiative for Catholic Education, Alive in Christ!