(by Jun Felix, CFC FFL New Jersey)
Marianne and I are so blessed with our event, “A Day With Dr Scott Hahn.” God has showered with so many good things in the past weeks. Praise God for his strength that has put love into perfection in our community, CFCFFL New Jersey, and the parish of Christ the King Church.
This event was conceptualized by a sister in SFL last year. I asked her to write a letter of invitation to Dr Scott Hahn. We faced a challenge that she became very busy, and I ended up writing the letter of invitation at the deadline for submitting the invitation. (In CFCFFL NJ, we have a “touch move rule:” if you have an idea, lead it.) I received a letter of denial from his office. With my positive outlook, I wrote a letter right away and sent it on the same day. (It was the same letter that I wrote with different dates of proposal.) After waiting for weeks, I received a phone call from Therese Beigel of the Office of Dr Scott Hahn. She was proposing to give us the date of August 11. Knowing the consequence of accepting the date will be challenging, as this is a Saturday after the weekends of conferences in New Jersey and New York. After praying about it an consulting with our Area Servant, Ed Yamba, I decided to accept it, because it is very difficult to get him to give his teachings. So many organizations and parishes are inviting him and they are getting declined. Therese sent the contract and I signed it on behalf of CFCFFL.
The activity got shelved off for so many months because of the 2011 Echo Conference in Somerset, NJ in October. Then, we had our Family Ministry Summit in November. Followed by Christmas Season. The event surface again in March during our Core Meeting. I brought it up. This time, we were able to discuss this event in small detail and proposal. It got shelved because of Holy Week.
But last October 26, we had an opportunity to listen to Dr Scott Hahn at a Seton Hall University’s Archbishop Gerety Series. We made this is our household meeting. Our service household (Ron and Jessica Acosta, Rey and Juliet Escalon, Jun and Marianne Felix, Manny and Linda Mendoza and Greg and Dolores Pangilinan) were able to attend his teaching on “The Evangelical Catholic Moment: The Bible, The Eucharist and the New Evangelization,” at Our Lady of Sorrows in West Orange, NJ. The event was free and sponsored by Seton Hall University through the Archbishop Gerety Lecture Series. (Archbishop Gerety is the oldest living bishop in the world. He just turned 100 years old) Dr Hahn gave a very vivid history of Evangelization that led to New Evangelization and how it is strongly connected to the Holy Eucharist as the center and the Holy Bible. (For those who wants a copy of this, I can share his talk with you.)
We have been searching for the a Church that will accommodate a large crowd. We looked into the Holy Spirit and St Michael’s in Union, St James in Springfield, St Philomena in Livingston. Because of our relationship with Christ the King, and purpose of building further relationship with the Parish, we decided to choose Christ the King(CTK). Also, CTK has the facilities we can use to accommodate the big crowd. We sat down with Monsignor Vinny for a morning meeting. Bros Edwin Dava and Manny Mendoza were with me during the meeting with Monsi. Eventually, we were referred to Jenny to finalize the plan to use Church premises for our event. We bravely proposed to donate a hefty amount for the use of the Church, Bingo Hall and Rectory basement.
The most difficult part in decision-making was the price. We have to make it very affordable. The original price was $35 with food included. But with economic times and purpose of making our faith stronger through a teaching from an authority on certain topics, we decided to make it at $25 with food.
Come May, the service household have been constantly praying, discussing the event and figuring out how to make this event a success with the blessing of the Lord, and I totally forgot about the printing of the tickets. In one very rainy day, I went to a printing shop in Morris Ave, Union. The shop was closed and it was almost 5pm. Then, next thing you know, I saw a printing shop across the Town Hall of Union (Quickly Printing). They said that they can print the tickets in two days with the design I proposed. They will do the graphic design and send it via e-mail on the next day. We had an exchange of e-mails until the final design was approved. Soon enough, I had the tickets during the Seniors Assembly in May.
We decided to divide the roles and responsibilities among our household members(Ron and Jessica Acosta, Rey and Juliet Escalon, Jun and Marianne Felix and Greg and Dolores Pangilinan). We were facing challenges as the Conference season started in June. My instruction was not just sell this to our community members, but also sell it to their fellow parishioners, family members and friends. Our goal is make our community known to all parishes.
The Lord has shown me a vision for our community. They are:
- The Event is the springboard to a Teaching Series (Next, Christopher West)
- CFCFFL will be a big contributor in helping Catholics grow in faith, former Catholics return to the Church and Non-Catholics to be part of the Universal Church (New Evangelization)
- Teaching Series involves inviting well-known Speakers to come and give teachings in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Newark (Dioceses/Parishes that we are serving with)
The first meeting was attended by a handful of servant-leaders. Deep inside of me was a frustration that our servant-leaders did not send a representative for the meeting. But I was hopeful that it will be successful as the devil is trying to bring us down. The second meeting had more people even we were just fresh from the Conference in Burbank, CA. The third and last meeting was Wednesday after the YFL Conference and before the event. Ticket sale was the frustration but we were still joyful because we have people coming to the event. Our worry is the big storm that was coming from the West that will affect Dr Scott Hahn’s flight. The biggest joy was how energetic were the people in the meeting because they are excited and empowered to do everything. LOVE IS BEING PERFECTED IN THE HEARTS OF THOSE WHO ARE SERVING.
We did a set up and prepared the materials for the event. We tested the audio equipment that we will use. It was not producing an irritating feedback. Everything was working well, and all we are to do is come and make everything happen as God’s plan.
Today, Marianne and I are so blessed and overwhelmed to see the sea of white-dressed brothers and sisters of service team and some in orange. The service team attended the Holy Mass at 8:00am. Then, they proceeded to their assignments. There were trouble-shootings here and there. Challenges were faced. I had a little anxiety as the sky was dark. The day was becoming cloudier and it might mean storm. Dr Hahn’s plane is already delayed by eight minutes. If it was darker and raining….that will be one to two hour delay. I was praying in an isolated area while monitoring his flight. As soon as the plane landed in Newark International Airport, I grabbed the microphone and started the program, which was late by five minutes.
The program went well, except for an irritating feedback in the audio system. We had no way to fix it because the controls were inside a cabinet that is locked. It was good thing that we have wired microphones that we were able to use during the event.
While the event was on-going, in our CFCFFL Home, the KFL program was being held. CFC members dropped off their children so that they can fully participate in the event.
The event was well-attended. There were participants as far as Pennsylvania, Texas and Illinois. There are some who traveled by car for at least 100 miles just to attend the event. They were excited to be with Dr Scott Hahn as people bought his books and have it autographed. Dr Hahn spent his lunch break signing books. He was answering some questions during the book signing. And some are asking me on how I was able to get Dr Scott Hahn to be our speaker. The secret is prayer and never giving up after getting denied (just like the lady who approached the judge).
On my reflection, the event teaches us the following:
1. HOLY MASS – Start the event right. We had our strength taken from the Holy Mass during the day. It was an offering of our event during the Mass that made it so successful. As said in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “the Eucharist is the Source and Summit of Christian Life“(CCC1324).
2. PRAYER — The power is so much. My household has been praying about it. When we were anticipating challenges, we pray about it. The prayer is so powerful that the event is a miracle. The anticipated two thunderstorms did not affect our event. (Bro Ed Fuentes reported that Newark Airport was a mess for the past two days due to storm delays and cancellations). One storm arrived earlier than predicted and it left early. The other thunderstorm did not even appear. We had a very beautiful day. And Dr Scott Hahn flew with only 10 minute delay and flew back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on time on the same day.
3. JOY — Despite of the difficulty in serving, we have joy in our hearts to see our brothers and sisters grown in their faith and be blessed on that day.
4. UNITY — Our community worked as one unit. Everybody stepped up to make the event a success. Everybody knows what to do even with minimal instructions. Nobody has to be asked if something is not doing well. The moment they see it, they fix it right away.
5. HEART FOR SERVICE — Everybody poured out their hearts. Our HFL did an amazing things of sales (tickets and books). If they see something is not ideal, they work together to fix the situation.
6. FAITHFULNESS TO HOUSEHOLD MEETINGS — Household meetings are important. It has strengthened our relationships with one another. IT has made us excited and very empowered. Our household is doing missions in the Northeast US and this event was spearheaded by our household. We have sacrificed so much that we are looking forward to our next big event.
Everybody has congratulated me. I told them that it was not me. IT WAS HIM WHO MANIFESTED HIS GLORY TO EVERYONE IN THE SERVICE TEAM. WE SHOULD PRAISE AND THANK HIM FOR THIS SUCCESSFUL EVENT. HE DID A MIRACLE ON THAT DAY. THERE WAS AN OUTPOURING OF HEARTS OF THAT DAY. IT WAS A GLORIOUS DAY OF SERVICE OF CFCFFL BECAUSE EVERYBODY PITCHED IN AND I SEE IN THEM THE GLORY OF GOD IN THEIR SMILES DESPITE OF DIFFICULTIES AND CHALLENGES.