Learn More About Sacred Heart

My Sisters in Christ, 

It is hard to believe that the last time we were together was in San Diego for the 2018 Forum.  And while we were overjoyed that so many of you were able to join us for the virtual Forum in November 2020, we are beyond excited to be planning an in-person event again – this time in Tampa for Forum 2022.  

This month’s Forum spotlight is on the historic church where we will be celebrating mass together, gathering with clergy for reconciliation, and holding adoration of the blessed sacrament.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church was constructed in 1905 in downtown Tampa and is one of the oldest churches in the city. Care of the church and its Roman Catholic community was rendered by the Jesuits until 2005 when care transitioned to the Franciscans who run it today. 

The church itself has 70 stained glass windows, but the 17 vertical windows lining the nave, anchoring each side of the transept and rimming the apse, are the most dramatic. All were made in the late 1800s by Franz Mayer Co. of Munich, Germany, which is still in business.

The Resurrection Window on the left side of the transept (the part of the church representing the arms of the cross) is a triptych, with three panels. Like the other major windows at Sacred Heart, it tells a story. The center panel presents the risen Christ, triumphant over death. He floats over the tomb, carrying a heavenly banner, his right hand raised in a benediction. An angel alights beneath him, gazing at the stunned soldiers who guarded his tomb. The two smaller panels record incidents preceding this apotheosis, one of the Virgin Mary in blue, with Mary Magdalene and Martha approaching the tomb, and the other of two soldiers fleeing as it opens.  

To look at these stained glass windows is inspiring. Also inspiring are the pipes over the vestibule that are connected to the church organ. The pipes were recently refurbished and produce a beautiful sound when played.    

Finally, I know many of you are curious, so I will answer the question now.  Yes, there is a gift shop next to the church. We gave them our Forum dates and they are looking forward to stocking the shop with a myriad of Catholic gifts for you to peruse. 

I can’t wait to see all of you in Tampa this April!

Peace and Aloha! 

Aly

Banner Year for Ordinations

By:  Denise Hummel

We give thanks for a banner year of ordinations to the priesthood and diaconate. These new priests and deacons have taken their vows and committed to potential active-duty service as military chaplains. Our promised priests will serve as Army, Air Force, and Navy Chaplains. As we pray, let us remember each of these men by name. 

Recent Ordinations
Promised Priest Branch of Service Home Diocese
Deacon Peter St. George Navy Arlington
Deacon Peter Ludwig Navy Lansing
Deacon Andrew Lane Navy Philadelphia
Deacon Liam O’Shea-Creal Navy Lincoln
Deacon Will Cook Navy Savannah
Deacon Darren Balkey Navy Charlotte
Deacon Brad Easterbrooks Navy San Diego
Father Tony Davis Navy Denver
Father Eddie Hoffmann Army Cincinnati
Father Mike Kapolka Air Force Cincinnati
Father Jason Allan Navy Fort Worth
Father David Campo Navy Boston
Father Garrett Braun Air Force Evansville
Father Andrew Sanchez Army New Orleans
Father Callan Sweeney Army Austin
Father Patrick Costello Navy Green Bay
Father Madison Hayes Air Force Anchorage

When we gather in Tampa in April 2022, we will continue the long-standing MCCW tradition of supporting our promised priests.  Giving to the Military Council of Catholic Women Endowed Co-Sponsored Seminarian Scholarship will connect our members from around the globe to our effort to support seminarians, unite our financial contributions for a greater impact, and inspire future MCCW members to continue supporting our promised priests.  

ABOVE: Wrapping up a banner year of ordinations to the diaconate and priesthood: Rev. Mr. Brad Easterbrooks took his vows on September 30, 2021, in Rome. Present on his special day were Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio and Father Aidan Logan, AMS Vocations Director. Two MCCW members, Gloria Frey and Mariana Dionne, and their husbands, also joined the Easterbrook family to celebrate. What a blessed day in Rome.

Cider Service Perfect for Fall

Changing leaves and cooling temperatures make this the perfect time for your women’s ministry to host a Cider Service. MCCW’s easy-to-follow guide to one of our most beloved traditions makes planning and hosting this program a snap. 

The Cider Service celebrates the gifts that make us uniquely feminine and the ways we use those gifts to serve God and each other. As your group reflects on these gifts, sharing stories of the ways they shine through in each of your lives, you will create a delicious apple cider that can be enjoyed by all. 

This program can be used in many ways:

  • Consider using this program during your regularly scheduled women’s ministry time or schedule it as a special event. 
  • Invite your group to bring a fall dish to share and make it a potluck. 
  • Invite women from your chapel who don’t usually attend your women’s ministry and turn it into an outreach program. 

The MCCW Cider Service Guide, as well as other MCCW Signature Programs, can be downloaded here.

Revitalize Your Faith Life

Dear Sisters in Christ,

How are you? I hope wherever you are reading this your new school year, your new ministry year, and your fall are in full swing. In Pennsylvania, the sun is shining on our beautiful little Army post and the leaves are just starting to change. It is a perfect fall day.

This is a great time of year to share the Cider Service, an MCCW Signature Program, with your Catholic community. It is a wonderful celebration of all that makes us uniquely female and it comes with a mug full of the very best spiced apple cider, to boot. 

We share more about that program in this issue of The Well as part of our initiative to reconnect, reunite, and reinspire you this year. Our “R3 effort”, as some of our board is affectionately calling it, will bring you some of MCCW’s best old programs as well as great new resources to help you revive, reinvigorate, or revitalize your faith life or your local women’s ministry. 

The great reconnect, reunite, reinspire content doesn’t end there though. Be sure to click on all the links so you don’t miss the latest on ordinations, news about how you can connect with the upcoming virtual retreat in Asia and Europe, a teaser for a great new resource that will inspire you at the start of the new liturgical year, and more!

Also included in this issue are some wise words from Bishop Buckon, MCCW’s Episcopal Moderator. I hope that Bishop Buckon’s words about Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9 are as great an inspiration to you as they were to me, as we each work to reconnect and reunite with those around us in these contentious and fractured times. 

We are excited about all the tools MCCW is sharing to help you reconnect, reunite, and get reinspired. We hope you are excited too!

Yours in Christ,

Kim Miller

MCCW President, 2018-2022

Christ’s Love Heals A World Divided

Note: AMS Auxiliary Bishop and MCCW Episcopal Moderator, Bishop Buckon gave this homily on Jesus’ teaching in Mark 9. In these contentious, fractured times, we all need to hear these words and use them as inspiration to reconnect and reunite with those around us. 

Brother Against Brother

Have any of us known a time when there have been as many divisions in society as there are today? The world is just about evenly divided between people who think one way and people who think another way. We cannot talk to each other about the issues that matter most without it ending in a shouting match. And the pandemic has only made it worse. We cannot even agree on what we should be doing to keep each other safe. Politics seem to have infiltrated every area of our lives. It has even divided families so much that brothers do not speak to each other and people will not show up to holiday dinners. All of us probably know people we avoid because we don’t want to hear their political views. 

Though the situation might be particularly dire now, infighting among people is nothing new. Even in the earliest days of the Church, people disagreed with each other and were divided about their beliefs. Today’s second letter from Saint James is one of the oldest writings of the New Testament and it speaks to just the situation we are experiencing today. He tells us that conflicts come from our passions—that is, from our desires for comfort, pleasure, power, and possessions. We fight among each other because we fear that our neighbor is a threat to our well-being. We see others as competitors rather than as brothers and sisters. We are holding on so tightly to what we have that we cannot extend a hand to our brothers and sisters in their need. 

Live by Showing Love

It is up to us who are followers of Jesus to lead the way to unity and healing in our society. The good news that we proclaim—that all of us have been redeemed by Christ, that all of us are loved unconditionally by God the Father, and that all human beings have infinite dignity—is the foundation for real community among all people. It is a truth that we can never fail to proclaim. It is a truth that we can never fail to live by showing love to everyone and treating all persons with the dignity they deserve as children of God. 

Jesus teaches us how we are to act in today’s gospel. “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” That is the secret to healing the animosity and fear that so many in our society are experiencing. Jesus is asking us to stop competing among ourselves, to stop putting each other down, to stop treating each other as enemies. He is calling us instead to listen to each other, serve each other, and treat each other as sisters and brothers. 

What would it look like if we were to put Jesus’ words into actions in our everyday lives?

To seek the last place means that we are not looking for recognition or applause. It means that we put aside our need to impress others or win their approval. When people overlook us and choose others over us, we can be comfortable with that. We don’t need to lash out whenever someone offends us. Neither do we insist on having our opinions heard or having our way. We are capable of listening to and understanding others because we have no agenda other than doing what is best for the community. 

Don’t Look for Earthly Rewards

People who seek the last place don’t need to be seen with powerful and wealthy people. When at a party, they seek out the person who is hardest to talk to and least attractive. Instead of asking “what’s in it for me?” they ask “what can I do to help?” They are happy to work behind the scenes, without recognition, and without applause. They don’t look to be rewarded for what they do but are just happy to help.

Humble people—like little children—realize that they do not have all the answers. They do not have to be right all the time. They realize that many of the things they believe may be wrong. Instead of constantly dictating their opinion to others, they try to learn from people who are different from them. They never write people off because they have beliefs that they do not agree with. They never look down on others at all. Rather, they strive to convince people by showing them love because they value friendship and unity so highly. A humble person would rather be humiliated than humiliate another person. 

How To Restore Unity

These are the types of attitudes and behaviors that Jesus is asking of us when He calls us to seek the last place rather than the first place. These are the attitudes and behaviors Jesus Himself showed during His lifetime and, especially, when faced with His own humiliating death. And it is just these attitudes and behaviors that can heal our society and restore our unity. 

The fact is that, as believers, we have all the truths which people need for their salvation. But if we are arrogant in preaching those truths, people will not listen. We can talk about the love of God all we want, but if we are not loving people, no one will believe us. The American President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” If we let divisiveness, partisanship poison our hearts and cloud our vision, then we cannot speak the truth of the gospel in a convincing way. 

They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love

The world needs the Christian witness of love today more than ever. If people are at each other’s throats today, it is because they have lost hope. By our witness to the love of God, we can give them a reason to believe. It begins with the way we treat people. None of us has all the answers, but we can stand by the side of people who are suffering, we can hold the hand of the lonely, and we can give our bread to the poor. The world is facing more problems than any of us can solve, but we can listen to people in distress, we can stand up for those who are treated unjustly, and we can lift our voices in prayer to the God who hears the cry of the poor. We can do all that if the love of God is in our hearts. And we can be assured that God’s love is in our hearts if we approach Him as His dear children confident that He will care for us no matter what. 

Adopt a Seminarian This Fall

By:  Denise Hummel, Director at Large, Seminarian Support

MCCW invites all Catholic women’s ministry groups to adopt and sponsor an assigned AMS co-sponsored seminarian, deacon and/or priest. These men will one day serve as military chaplains and we give thanks for each of them and pray for more promised priests.

This fall, we are requesting NEW registrations from all women’s ministry groups in an effort to re-connect, re-unite, and re-inspire our Adopt-a-Seminarian program. MCCW requests a one-year commitment and assignments are provided each academic year.   

Complete this Google form to provide the coordinator with the necessary information needed to make an assignment. 

We welcome new ministry groups and appreciate those of you who have adopted in past years. The goal is to keep the assignments the same, when possible, so be sure to share the name of the previously adopted promised priest on your form. Thank you for your continued prayers, love, and support for this program.  If you have any questions, please email Denise at amsliaison@mccw.org.

Seminarians Gather in D.C.

Over Labor Day weekend, 30 promised priests gathered in our nation’s capital for a weekend of prayer, formation, and dialogue with the Archdiocese for the Military Services. The annual gathering is part of the AMS Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program. The Saturday morning mass took place at the Crypt Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Several MCCW women were able to join them for that mass and it was a wonderful experience to pray with these men who are discerning a vocation within a vocation. 

MCCW has endowed a scholarship to directly assist with the costs of seminary for these faithful men. When we gather in Tampa for Forum 2022, we will continue our tradition of hosting a silent auction to raise funds for this scholarship. Your generosity is always appreciated and welcomed; more details will be revealed in the coming months. May God continue to bless our Promised Priests.

Learn more here about the Co-Sponsored Seminarian Program.

Returning to Mass: An Exercise for the Whole Self

By: Kitty Eisenbeil, Director of Formation

Well over a year ago we began the long marathon of COVID-19 restrictions which included shutting the doors of our churches and experiencing the separation from Christ in the Eucharist. Slowly but surely, diocese by diocese, we are seeing doors open once again and restrictions lift. We are also seeing the reinstitution of the Sunday obligation, which means we, as Catholics, have an obligation to attend mass and celebrate the Eucharist together every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. 

This return, while joyful, has its own set of anxieties and burdens that are important to address.  When we come back to mass do we want to just return to our same patterns, perhaps our same half-focused attendance, our same “Catholic aerobics” way of thinking? This is an opportunity to make a fresh start by diving deeper into our faith, but that means considering the ways the mass calls us to engage our mind, our body, and our spirit.

Mind

Mental health has taken a major hit during this pandemic. Anxiety about our health and the health of our friends and family can be overwhelming; it can almost paralyze us! 

We feel the separation from the Eucharist on such an emotional level, but then the fear of contagion takes over, quickly followed by a level of guilt at not putting this Sacrament into practice. Now here we are, over a year later, and some of us have not felt physically or emotionally secure in returning to mass, meaning the guilt may feel significant.

Recognizing and naming the emotions you experience when considering your return to mass are important steps to take. Is it fear? Are you worried about how long it has been? What will people think if you mask and they don’t (or vice versa)? What will the Sign of Peace be like?  Grab hold of what your emotions are during this time and recognize their source.

Body

Physical health is, of course, a serious issue to consider. If you are unwell, if your family is unwell, or if you have been in contact with someone with symptoms of/is positive for COVID-19, please stay home. 

If your mental health is a little shaky because of the physical side of this equation, it is important to weigh the risks. If you are healthy, what precautions are you able to take? Most parishes continue to have a social distancing section in the church, masks are still encouraged (or enforced in some places), hand sanitizer/hand washing is a must in any scenario, and removing yourself from the Sign of Peace and instead offering a “Wave of Peace” is perfectly acceptable.  But what will the other people say?? Well….who cares? Do what YOU need to do to help you get back to this beautiful Sacrament!

Spirit

The big kahuna, baby! This is where we live! If nothing else, let this be your guiding light back to the Eucharist. Our souls are fed by the Body of Christ in the Sacrament of the altar. We have been separated from our Beloved for so long and He is crying out to us to return to His heart.  Those feelings of guilt at being gone for so long? His love and mercy is infinite. 

Take some time to get back to the Sacrament of Reconciliation so your soul is ready to receive our Lord. Before you get to Mass, review the readings and the Gospel and maybe do a little meditation or contemplation on what is being said to you through the Word of God.  

Maybe you previously had a lukewarm experience of the mass, or it has become a back burner part of your life. This is the time to reignite your life of faith. This is where we seek to reconnect, reunite, and reinspire.  

What makes the return to mass a little easier is the return to community. We are joining the whole Church, the Bride of Christ, coming together as a family to receive His precious Body and Blood. Let’s share our joy, together, as one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. Welcome home, everyone!

God is the only constant

Dear Sisters in Christ,

Is it really almost fall? They say time flies when you’re having fun, but I think time just flies no matter what is going on in our lives. 

In my letter to you last August, I reflected on the Israelites wandering the desert and my certainty that they didn’t anticipate the long, 40-year journey they would face when they fled Egypt. I am once again reminded of our distant ancestors as we approach the two-year mark of this pandemic afflicting our world. 

Earlier this month, your MCCW board took a knee to check in on one another. We knew many of our team were facing particular challenges or concerns in their own lives or in the lives of beloved family members, and we needed to stop for a moment to ask, “How are you doing?” We needed to make time to really listen to their answers. 

What we learned is that our whole team is facing a certain “pandemic fatigue” –a weariness and anxiety that is affecting many parts of our lives and comes from living in these stressful conditions for so long. We found we needed to reconnect and reunite with one another in order to be reinspired for the days ahead. And I’d be willing to bet many of you are in need of that, too!

Just as we have throughout this ordeal, and throughout our 60-plus-year history, MCCW wants to accompany you during this time. To do this, we will offer content and resources to help one another reconnect, reunite, and reinspire in small, everyday ways. In this issue of The Well you will find a great article from our Director of Formation, Kitty, about returning to mass. We hope this will reinspire you, no matter where you and your family are in your journey. 

We also hope you will take the time to reach out to your sisters in Christ and ask them, “How are you doing?” We all need that. 

Yours in Christ,

Kim Miller
MCCW President, 2018-2022

Together in Tampa

By: Rebecca Lockhart, Director of Communications

At the end of June, 14 MCCW board members and regional coordinators gathered for the first time in almost two years. The worldwide board convenes, usually, once a year in person for a working weekend full of brainstorming, planning, and preparation for our Worldwide Forum. This weekend was no different but extra special. With COVID keeping us apart for so long we were all overjoyed to get together in person again. While Zoom is a wonderful tool there is nothing like sitting in the same room together sharing a meal. 

Women began to arrive Thursday, and early Friday morning we hit the ground running with brainstorming and planning what the next year will look like for MCCW. Our goal is to find new ways to connect, unite, and inspire the women in our Catholic military communities and the board had wonderful ideas that we are excited to put into action in the coming months. 

On Saturday we took a short break from our hard work and spent the morning exploring our host city for Forum. We spent time in Sacred Heart Catholic Church for mass, found some wonderful sights to see, and even ate at the oldest restaurant in Tampa. We can’t wait to share all of these things with you in April! 

The rest of the weekend was back to work with a site visit of the hotel, our announcement of the Forum location, and a full overview of what Forum will look like. 

The weekend was filled with wonderful work, much-needed fellowship, and lots of prayer. We are so excited to get back to being with all of you in person after so much time apart and hope to see you all in Tampa in April 2022. 

Captions:

AMS Auxiliary Bishop Neal Buckon shares his thoughts on the most pressing needs in our Catholic military communities. 

The MCCW Board of Directors, Regional Coordinators, and AMS Auxiliary Bishop Neal Buckon in Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where many of the Forum 2022 liturgies will be held.