Summer reflection 2019: So much in SoCal

When I was assigned this summer to St. Peter Chanel in Hawaiian Gardens, seminarians who had been there warned me that it was a very busy parish.

Retreats and catechism 

The majority of my apostolate focused on retreats.  I directed four people for an 8-day retreat at Pro-Sanctity Retreat Center in Fullerton, Calif., in late June and seven people for an 8-day retreat at Sacred Heart Retreat House in Alhambra, Calif., in late July.   My work in Alhambra included sacristan duties for Mass and Adoration according to the Carmelite sisters’ instructions.  I felt edified by the sisters there.


It was a privilege to accompany in the retreatants’ prayer life.   God works where people are.  Sometimes, it’s frustrating to see people too set in their ways or too wounded to receive God’s grace.  Other times, I rejoiced in the healing because of their openness.  I must always remember that it’s God’s work in the end.  He will accomplish what needs to be done.

Between these retreats, I had to teach makeup classes for First Communion and Confirmation classes for two weeks.  Similar to my previous post on teaching, I was challenged greatly over two weeks.  First Communion required simple explanations to the children and their parents.  Confirmation pushed my ability to connect topics on the Holy Spirit with the struggles of teens (sometimes engaged, other times not).  Mrs. Puente, my teaching assistant, provided much needed insights and help in both classes.

The altar server retreat by Fr. Craig MacMahon, OMV on July 22-24, 2019, allowed me to teach about martyrdom and the spirituality to give that sacrifice.  Marvin, an adult server, spoke about the Mexican martyrs.  I discussed the Hidden Christians of Japan and St. Maximilian Kolbe.  We watched Life for Life, a film about Kolbe.

Time for a break

Between the end of the Pro-Sanctity retreat and catechism classes, I had some time to enjoy Southern California.  On Wednesday, July 3, 2019, Miggo, an incoming postulant, took me to Disneyland.  We hit some of the classics: Matterhorn, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Disney train.  It was fun walking around Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  But we didn’t have time for the newest ride.


We crossed over California Adventure for lunch.  Miggo and I hit the bigger rides: Soar, Guardians of the Galaxy: Breakout, Grizzly River Run, Incredicoaster and Radiator Spring Racers.  Except for the water ride, all the rides required longer wait times.  But it feels so much like California nighttime racing to ride the Radiator Spring Racers at night.

On Saturday, July 6, 2019, I visited Kathleen Shea, husband Matthew and son John in Westwood in California.  I hadn’t seen Kathleen since my drive across the country to enter seminary five years ago.  Kathleen took John and me to see St. Monica church in Santa Monica and walk along the palisades above the beach.  Matthew joined us for a walk and dinner around downtown Westwood.  There was even time for me to pray Evening Prayer.

John and me
John helps me pray Evening Prayer on my Breviary in Westwood, Calif., on Saturday, July 6. 2019. Kathleen and Matthew Shea allowed me to share this photo of their son. Doesn’t he look like Jack-Jack from The Incredibles?

On Sunday, July 21, 2019, I took a day off.  I didn’t realize how tired I was.  Catechism classes and a Mexico trip kept me going all the time.  The parish was so busy that I could be tricked into going constantly.  It felt so good to take a nap in my room.

My 6.5 weeks in Southern California disappeared in the blink of an eye.  There were numerous graces amid the headaches.  Overall, I enjoyed it.

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