Category Archives: Community

Summer Highlights

This summer truly is going by so quickly. I am torn because as excited as I am for this next phase of our life, it breaks my heart to leave the people I love and the place that has so much significance in my life. To recap the summer that has just came and gone, here are some choice photos…

Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.

Just a few of us former residents of 728 at BU in front of the Grotto where my life was literally changed on a retreat nearly 7 years ago.

June was the Brotherhood of Hope Boston Alumni Retreat. A beautiful reunion of friends from both the CC at BU and Northeastern.

Precious time with the Dills and my family!

Precious time with the Dills and my family!

The weekend of July 4th, which turned out to be a bit more eventful than we had planned, was still a really beautiful one. There weren’t any real plans, so I got to do my favorite things of going to Pat’s Colonial Kitchen for brunch, visiting Washington’s Crossing Park, strolling around Peddler’s Village, and spending time with the Dills and my family.

:)

Time with Sarah. This girls been here with me for seven years. We grew in faith together, lived together in two different places, were by each others side on our wedding days, became neighbors, and have just shared many joys, sorrows, and everything in between. I’m going to miss this lady so much…but I know God will provide and our friendship will grow in ways we cannot predict.

The VB's flew out to the East Coast!

The VB’s flew out from AZ to the East Coast!

Two dear friends, Christina and Ky, got married in Connecticut and it was a beautiful celebration! A few good friends came from quite a distance and it was absolutely lovely reuniting for a bit. Emily and Ted (far right) are expecting their first child in November and we were able to throw them a little baby shower in Boston the following day with some local friends out here.

Mother & Daughters

I went home again to PA in August to celebrate my sister, Kristen (blue dress), and sister-in-law, Jenan, who are both expecting their first children in October! Both girls!

Such an awesome group of people.

The Dills (A, J, and JP) drove up to Boston for Ashlie’s birthday, and Elise made it out from Detroit as well! It was quite the reunion and we had a beautiful evening bringing together many loved ones. Mike (tallest guy pictured in back) is a seminarian for the Boston Diocese over in Rome and has been back for just a bit this summer. Brother Sam (second from left, back row) joined us as well! That guy. Aka my former boss, campus minister, and always spiritual father.

Friendship, sisterhood, love, hats 🙂

The four of us ladies, Ashlie, Elise, Sarah and I, did afternoon tea/lunch at the Boston Public Library for Ash’s 25th birthday! We got all fancy and it was splendid. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves on a Monday afternoon, and then strolled to the courtyard for some photos and boy, did we get some stares or what. We loved every second.

Siblings and some cousins at Fenway!

A couple weeks ago, my family did a large vacation in Plymouth, MA since my brother and his wife are currently stationed not too far away for the military. We rented a magnificent home on the water, and some extended family joined us as well. It was a week of games (sometimes a bit too competitive), relaxing, riding bikes along the coast of Nantucket (#worthit), and going to a Red Sox game at Fenway. A wonderful trip (so grateful to my dad!), and a kind of last hoorah before two babies arrive and cross country moves are made by multiple parties.

Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!

Boston friends! Oh how we will miss them!

Sarah & Javi threw us a little going away party with some close friends, and gosh…I get sadder with every day we get closer to our move. It is so nice being with these people; we had a great time of fellowship and of course, P&P (the game “pencil & paper” that will forever be my legacy in Boston).

Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!

Various generations of BUCC Alumni, former roommates @ Priscilla, good friends!

And finally, a night out just before we left celebrating a friend’s birthday. It was a gift to have another reason to see everybody before we left.

There has been much more goodness, but one can only make a post so long! I’m overwhelmed with how much there is to reflect and look back upon my eight years in Boston, but above all I am filled with gratitude. Deo gratias!

 

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Leaving the community I love.

In all those months Kevin and I discerned leaving, it seemed like the obvious thing to do – it was just a matter of when and where. There have been a number of difficult things about our time in Boston together – unfulfilling jobs, finances and the insanely high cost of living, public transportation, the Northeast mindset, the go-go-go mentality of city living…there’s no doubt that it was hard. But now that we are really moving…in a month…we are both struck with all the good things we are leaving behind. Primarily community.

Boston is my spiritual home. I’ve been here for eight years, and seven of those I have been intimately tied to a Catholic community rooted at BU. While some of my best friends have left since college, there are still so many loved ones here – and the community has grown as well. This is also the place where all those who are elsewhere come back to – it’s our hub. I’ve been spoiled with incredible friendships, and this place is the center of it all.

This past weekend it really hit me hard. It was a weekend filled with all my favorite people in Boston – having drinks with the ladies, hanging out at a barbecue, exploring the city, studying the Word of God, the sacraments…Christ is woven into it all, and that is why I know I am so bound to all these people. And why I’m going to miss them so much!

Last night, Kevin and I went on our evening walk (a little ritual for us), and we relayed to one another how much more difficult this is going to be than we anticipated. And for him – he came to this city four years ago for schooling, found the Catholic group I was a part of, met me/got married, and all this time he’s been surrounded by my friends, my community, living in my city…or at least that’s sorta what we both thought. But they have truly become his friends, his community, and he’s made this just as much his city. And now that he’s going back to his hometown, he’s just as sad as I am (well, maybe not as sad)!

Through all my tears on our lovely walk, Kevin turned to me and said, “So much of you is your love for your friendships, and that’s part of why I fell in love with you.” And then he made promises to ship me back here (or wherever it is I’ll need to go) as often as possible and to continue encouraging these friendships that are so life-giving (sound like anyone we know, Josh & Ashlie??). I’ve seen this happen with those who have left, and while distance isn’t exactly easy, we’ve been abundantly blessed with time together – we’ve grown together through Vocations, children, losses, and more.

Duluth will be a new experience, quite the transition, and I know it will be good. But leaving this city where my faith came alive and this community that continuously bears fruit will be difficult. It’ll take a huge amount of trust in God on my part. Trusting that these relationships will continue to grow in the manner they ought, that life will change for the better, and that God will bless all of us as we strive for the same goal: heaven.

And now I will be sappy and post this song that comes to mind…thanks for not judging. 🙂

Now let’s enjoy this last month!

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All grown up.

Mid-May, I was in North Carolina to see my youngest sister graduate from Wake Forest University. Now…when you’re one of five children, it’s a crazy experience when the baby of the family has a big milestone. Everything she’s done has pretty much already been precedented by someone else in the family. But that makes it no less special; in fact, I think we all get super nostalgic seeing her go through all these life things. And it makes us realize that the littlest one of us is growing up! She’ll be moving to DC this fall to start work! #whattttt

In addition to the last one graduating college, there will be two new additions to the family this year! Both my sister and sister-in-law are expecting in October, and we are so thrilled and excited. But it’s also so crazy at the same time. And this year is a Krouchick Christmas year meaning there will be 12 of us under one roof – the mom & pop, three married couples, two young singles, and two infants! Obviously it’ll be awesome and I’ll want to bottle it up before we all go to our separate parts of the country (PA, DC, VA, CA, possibly MN).

Nostalgia is my middle name, so don’t mind if I cry three times a week with all the changes. But it is all good – we are all moving in good directions and I’m excited to see how these changes play out in our lives. #ilovemyfamily

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Out of the city we go!

Just for a few days…but I’m so grateful! Even with the occasional snow day (only thanks to the MBTA shutting down), it has been “GO GO GO” around here. And I am so excited to GO elsewhere! Like middleofnowhere, New York for the long weekend with my best friends?! I don’t care how much snow there is, as long as it does not delay our traveling and I am not in the city.

This will be our third annual YO_O trip since college. We’ve certainly seen each other many other times in these past few years, but these trips are long weekend trips to a neutral place and they are the best.

2012: YOMO – “You only Minnesota Once” (little did I know I’d marry a Minnesotan…)

2013: (just realized this one never happened…but there were a couple of weddings, so it’s understandable!)

2014: YOLVO – “You only Las Vegas Once” (my bachelorette party…good time, but no need to go back)

2015: YOLMO – “You only Livingston Manor Once”

This year is super exciting because we are meeting the lovely John Paul! Ashlie and Josh had their first child in November and we all have been dying to meet this lil guy! We will also be meeting Elise’s new beau…so it’s gonna be a great time!

This will be our first trip with any of the men (except Josh…he attended YOMO), but I’m sure the four ladies will find a reason to all be in the bathroom at the same time for 5 hours or so (or until JP needs to be fed)…

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The four of us almost 2 years ago!! CRAY!!

 

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The Epiphany: a worthy feast

It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve really delved into the beauty of the Epiphany. I always just kinda glanced over it as another Christmas feast and superficially understood that three wise men came to visit Jesus and gave him fancy gifts. How deprived was I of such depth! The more intentional Kevin and I are with our liturgical living, the more the feasts and seasons are coming alive. We really wanted to do was celebrate Christmas in it’s fullness and in it’s time. That also means keeping the season going when the rest of the world is done. One way we went about this was hosting an Epiphany party last night!

It was a grand time with close friends. There was great conversation, lots of laughs, deep spiritual insights after the gospel reading, and a traditional Epiphany cake! Kevin and I are both so grateful for the evening and could not have asked for anything better. I’m particularly glad that we were able to delve into the passage with the Magi, as their journey to Jesus was pretty much the reason to party. Another reason why we love our friends so darn much. The story is truly so rich and leaves the heart pondering so many things.

I wanted to just share a few thoughts from a couple of very wise men (pun intended). First is from a priest here in Boston who is an incredibly gifted preacher. Fr. Peter Grover, of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, has never failed to touch my heart with his homilies and reading this one on the Epiphany is no exception:

“Here is a question. How many Magi are in Matthew’s gospel?  You probably just sang “We Three Kings” the Epiphany liturgy.  Perhaps you got a card with a picture of three kings mounted on camels.  If you think the answer is three, then you better read your Bible again.  Matthew tells us there were three gifts but he doesn’t tell us the number of Magi.  It could have been two or four. How many do I think there were?  I would confidently say hundreds of Magi. Have I lost my mind?  My reasoning is simple.  They had gold, frankincense and myrrh, kingly and godly gifts. They better have an army of people to transport those riches half way across the planet.  Picture this:  King Herod is in his chamber and he hears a knock on his door.  “What is it?”  “Magi from the East are here to see you.” Herod then looks out the window and sees hundreds kings, princes, astrologers and the wise gathered from around the world at his door.  That is what frightened Herod and the city of Jerusalem. Who is this kid that is drawing so many from all over the world?  The child is the Light of the World.”

What a beautiful image! I mean, it makes sense, right? They would have needed a multitude of people to successfully make that kind of trip and with all those riches. Something stirred in these people’s hearts; they were lead to Jesus, the savior of the world. They could not have known the fullness of what they were seeking. Even upon seeing and worshiping the child, they, along with Mary and Joseph, didn’t really know what this meant. But they were changed. It’s impossible to encounter Jesus and remain the same. They were changed and they went back a different way. And from this, Jesus is made manifest to the entire world. He has come to save us all.

There’s just so much we can pull from this short passage, but Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains it well in a few sentences:

“The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward him.”

Now I understand why so much of the world holds this feast so high, like a “second Christmas”. This is officially a very special day in the Gearns household. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for making yourself known to us all.

 

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Getting our retreat on.

A couple weeks ago, Kevin and I (sort of last minute) decided we’d like to go on a retreat put on by the yHope community outside Boston. It’s a young adult group (mainly early 20’s to early 30’s) that we’ve attended before and really love. It’s a lot of authentic people with great hearts. We hadn’t been in since before we were married since we don’t have a car and now live a little farther away. But this retreat seemed like a great opportunity to reconnect.

I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous at first because I’m still figuring out where we fit as a married couple. It might seem silly, but being in that in between spot of we’ve entered into our Vocation but don’t yet have children can be a little confusing as far as what we do for community (maybe it’s just me). And a lot of talks on this retreat were geared towards discerning your Vocation. But alas, we went and are so grateful we did. We were the only married couple, but I don’t think that deterred from our experience at all. In fact, it was quite enjoyable to be on retreat with my husband.

The theme was “remind me who I am,” and I don’t even know if it was any of the talks that made it sink into my heart, but rather just being there. I haven’t been on a retreat in over a year and a half, and taking this weekend made me realize how much we need that time away, focused solely on God.

I think something that helped the theme hit home for me was the fact that the retreat center was one that I’ve been to many times before, at very different stages in my faith journey. It’s a Pauline retreat center just outside Boston, and I’ve been there four different times with four different communities over the past six years:

In February 2009, our spring undergrad BU retreat was held here. It was a time that I was just really coming into my faith as a sophomore in college. New friends, a new lifestyle, and most importantly, the beginning of a deep relationship with God. In November 2011, the grad group at BU held a retreat here, so a lot of familiar faces. I had only graduated college six months before and was still adjusting to life in the real world. In February 2013, I attended the Pure in Heart retreat on JPII’s Theology of the Body. Pure in Heart is a young adult community in Boston that I was heavily involved with my first couple of years out of school (and also where Kevin and I met). During that time, Kevin and I were dating looking towards engagement. Now we’re in November 2014, and I’m in such a different life state, as I’ve been each time before. I’m now married and, though still fairly young as people point out, my life is focused on vastly different things.

As I said, the theme was “remind me who I am,” and by coming back to this familiar place in which I’ve had so many powerful experiences, I really felt reminded. Yes, my life is not as it has been: I’m battling different struggles, I’m receiving new graces, and I’ve matured in greater ways. But God is still God. He is unchangeable. And going back to the one who is reminded me of who I am, now and always: a beloved daughter of God. Regardless of what is going on in my life at the moment, that fact remains.

I guess the takeaway for me was bringing me back to the basics. My life has come a long way in the past 6 years; I would argue and say it’s much more complicated, but that doesn’t change where all the answers lay. Scripture, sacraments, prayer. All centered around my relationship with Jesus.

 

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A talk, a baby, a wedding, and New England weather.

Talk about an extremely full week. Full of so much goodness! I’ll first let it be known that this New England weather is unpredictable. So last Sunday at the start of the week, we had this:

Yes, that was snow. The week went through days of heavy rain and we ended up with this:

So…sometimes ya just gotta wait it out and the goodness will come! Anyway, on Tuesday morning, I woke up and was talking about babies with Kevin when I got a text from my good friend Ashlie letting me know she was going into labor. Ummm, OKAY. NBD. So naturally that’s all I could think about for the entire day. I had the privilege of alerting some friends and it was a funny experience reconnecting with some people via text. I group texted the men, and some of them I haven’t seen/spoken to since my wedding. We had some fun exchanges and great re-bonding occurred while dear Ashlie was bringing new life into the world.

Speaking of that new life…JOHN PAUL was born into the world at 2:06am on November 5th. I won’t say much as it’s not my birth story to tell, but Ashlie is a champ x239408134 and I’m so proud of her. And he is the sweetest, most adorable baby I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with this little guy and I’ve only had snippets of photos.

And still speaking of NU LIFE (get it?), Kevin and I gave a talk Wednesday night at the Catholic Center at Northeastern University (where I also work two nights a week) – their main event each week for the students is called NU Life. We talked essentially about our Vocation stories and the preparation for marriage that was had while being single (or for Kevin – being in seminary) and the beauty of that time. And how you’re not doomed if you don’t find your spouse in college. I’m not much of a public speaker, but the talk ended up going fairly well and we received some great feedback. When I went in to work the following evening, a bunch of the mission leaders there told me about the really fruitful conversations that followed our talk, praise God!

And finally, yesterday was a lovely day for a wedding! One of my former roommates, Emilia, got married to the wonderful Jared and it was a truly joyous celebration. The wedding was at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston and you just have to look up this church because it is STUNNING. It’s always been my favorite in Boston and I was so thrilled to be able to attend a wedding there. Also, Jared had a few connections with some brass instrumentalists in the Boston Pops…sooooo the music accompanying the Mass was entirely brass instruments and it was heavenly. Like, truly.  And Emilia looked like an angel! The two of them have an awe-inspiring joy about them and it was a gift to witness them in this great sacrament.

The reception afterwards was at Post 390 – a super chic restaurant/bar downtown and it was a blast. We were seated at the table with the Franciscan priests and seminarians (and a couple close friends!) and we loved every second of it. When in doubt, put the Gearnses and Kev O with the religious…a great time will be had by all and there will be much rejoicing. There was tons of laughter, good conversation, and of course, as is with all the weddings, we get to see and catch up with old friends who we’re not around that often.

Kevin has said it before and reiterated again today: the deep bond that exists between the BU Catholic community is very unique and visible. There were a number of people there I haven’t seen in a year, maybe longer (some I see all the time), and because Jared and Emilia are four-five years apart, there was a wide spread of CC generations present. It’s a good reminder of the authenticity of our experiences together and how it can unite people across many years, but it’s also just the fact of being a part of the universal Church. Because of this, our community isn’t exclusive. Any Catholic shares what we share. And it only becomes more beautiful when we expand with spouses, children, and new friends. I’m so grateful to be a part of the BUCC community, but what really keeps us connected and growing is Christ and his Church.

So this week was a wonderful time of witnessing our community grow and evolve with a new life and a new marriage! Praise! God! There’s so much to be thankful for.

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Great & Holy Men of God!

My good friend Mike is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Boston. He’s the one who got me involved at BU’s Catholic Center back in our sophomore year of college. He’s in his fourth(!!!!) year aka Theology II (I think that’s right?), and has been in Rome since August 2013.  Super exciting, but we also miss him so much here! He’ll come home for the first time next June. He was always the poster child for our diocese because, well…

Mike, full page, in Boston Magazine

Yes, that is him full page in Boston Magazine for an article on the Archdiocese of Boston, actually a really good piece with a positive outlook on the Church here post-scandal. Anyway, Mike is 6’7” (super tall), ran track at BU, was president at the CC, would always serve at mass with the Cardinal, the standard cross bearer (see above). Ya know…future pope and all. And speaking of the Pope…

The Servant of the Servant of the Servant...

This happened last weekend. Mike served at mass with the Pope. No surprises there. He called me the day before to let me know it was happening (knowing that if I saw a photo like this after the fact, I’d yell at him for not preparing me). Such a great man, really living it up over in Europe! Having a close friendship with a seminarian is a beautiful thing. I’ve just entered my Vocation and he’s preparing for his. Different callings, but the Church needs both of them. And witnessing his journey continuously calls me on to be better. Kevin and I are building our domestic Church here at home, and that looks different than life as a Priest…but we are still called to be Saints, just as the religious are.

Please pray for Mike and for all seminarians! The Church needs great, holy men answering this incredible call to Priesthood!

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The Joy of Community

The past two weekends were ones of great joy. The first weekend, one of my closets friends, Emily, came into town from Arizona with her husband, Ted, to celebrate their one year anniversary (October 4th). I was so grateful for the time Kevin and I got to spend with them: a Friday night gathering of her close friends still here in Boston, Saturday morning mass & brunch, Saturday evening at a friend’s engagement party, and Sunday afternoon when they visited to see our apartment.

 

It’s great to see both of them just so in love and thankful for a great first year. And although I miss her soooooo much, I couldn’t wish anything more for her than to be truly happy. One thing she said to me was that walking around Boston didn’t make her wish she still lived here; she enjoyed the city but wasn’t torn about living elsewhere. What this trip really made her long for, though, was the people. It’s tough coming back and having such effortless and beautiful friendships only to leave again.

It’s a hard thing for anyone; I’ve experienced many close friends leave Boston one by one, and whenever they return I’m able to see their joy of being around their community and the difficult moment of leaving (not to say that they haven’t all cultivated beautiful lives elsewhere – they most certainly have!). Yes, we still consider ourselves one community, even with all the growing members via marriages and babies. And it doesn’t die out, but only grows stronger with time as it matures. Being a part of the universal Church allows us to keep growing together, though it might look different with each passing year.

This past weekend, Sarah and I drove out to Albany, NY to co-host a baby shower for Ashlie with her mother-in-law. Ashlie & Josh lived in North Dakota for three years (Josh is in the air force), and they recently relocated to Penn State where they will be for about a year and a half. It is soooo much closer than ND, but still not the easiest to get to. So the Albany trip to Josh’s parents’ home was a real treat. Seeing her eight months pregnant was truly amazing! In just one short month we will have a new life entering our world, and it could not be more wonderful.

 

We stayed for just one night, so there wasn’t even a moment to feel sad about leaving as it was so quick. But I’m thankful for the short 24 hours we did have as I’m not sure when I’ll get to see them next and meet little Dill! I try to take these moments in; I try to really be present to them. It can be so easy for me to focus on the long stretches of time we’re apart. But God grants us these small events (more often that we ever could have dreamed of back in May 2011!) as a reminder of his goodness, and that as long as we are in communion with God, we are in communion with one another.

Will I be sad the day God calls Kevin and I to leave this city? Possibly all the way to Minnesota, possibly somewhere else? Absolutely. It’s not that I have a desire to live in Massachusetts forever, though. We look forward to building a home for our family in the place that is right for us. But this is my spiritual home where my faith grew. This is where everyone comes back to, in a sense. This is where our community reunites. This is where I still have beautiful, strong friendships. So I tryyyyy not to think much about that next step (though I do a poor job at it). It’s clear this is where we are meant to be at the moment, and I’m happy with that.  As a few of us liked to say back in the day, “Lord, it is good that we are here…and it will be good when we are there.”

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A Quickie!

The weeks are so busy that I’m so bad at putting up a blog entry. But more to come soon, I hope! Last weekend I was graced with the presence of my dear friend, Emily, as her and her husband, Ted, celebrated their one year anniversary here in Boston. I hope to write more about that great time soon! This weekend, Sarah and I are headed to Albany, NY to meet up with Ashlie, the mother-to-be, for a little baby shower we’re co-hosting with her mother-in-law! It’s a real treat to now be within a reasonable distance to meet up with the Dills (North Dakota was just tooooooo far) for a long weekend.

And on Monday…I will take that much needed day off (my first time working that I’ve gotten off for Columbus day, btw, and I love it!). Maybe write another blog post! 🙂

Cheers!

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