Tag Archives: Community

OUTBOUND

Outbound from Boston!

(Warning: I’m in reflective mode and this will be more dramatic than it needs to be!)

 

Monday, August 31st, we set out from Boston on our two week adventure to Duluth. We are currently sitting in a Caribou Coffee just outside of St. Paul, just a few hours away from our destination. It all feels incredibly surreal to me. When I really try to think about it, I understand that this is a move and that we are not turning around. But for the most part, it feels a bit like a vacation. We traveled, saw family and friends along the way, will get to our destination, and then venture back to Boston. It feels like we’ve been in transition for months at this point, so the thought of something more finite and permanent is really hard for me to fully comprehend.

Maybe in a few weeks, once we’ve conquered all the insurmountable tasks that lay before us, I’ll feel a sense of permanence. But for now, I’m letting it be what it is. Because honestly, the thought of not going back, not seeing some of my best friends every week, not having our close-knit marriage bible study, not having ladies nights with my former roommates, not experiencing a New England fall (especially that we now have a car!), not being in the place where all our college friends come back to, not being able to visit Brother Sam and Mother Olga, not having such easy access to all the things that come with living in a big city…it’s a challenge. And that’s not to say that I’m not incredibly excited for what’s to come and for the ways in which God will lead us through this change, but with most worth it ventures, there is a sacrifice (or many).

I spent eight years and one week in Boston. Those eight years carry with them a lifetime of experiences, growth, relationships. I’ll never be able to craft the words to express how different, and better off, I am for having lived there. It wasn’t necessarily the city of Boston that did it, though it has a unique place in my heart for being the place where it all happened. Mistakes were made. Some really big ones. But I transformed from an ignorant college freshman to a more mature woman that I would not have recognized back then. I went from not knowing my creator to having an intimate relationship with Him. I did not know what real community was, and I now have the greatest one that spans countries and oceans. I grew, sometimes painfully, alongside sisters and brothers that I will forever be connected to in deep friendship and the sacraments. I met my husband at such a providential time in my life, and spent the majority of my time in Boston outside of college growing in love with him and integrating that relationship into the rest of my life. Kevin and I conceived and lost our first child, one that I know God has welcomed into His Kingdom for our benefit as well as that of many others.

Some people live eight years in one place and leave no better, sometimes for the worse. I cannot thank God enough for every little piece of my time in Boston. Every trial, every victory, every tear, every laugh, every person, every messed up commute (yes, I can say that now that I’ve left), every Sunday morning sunrise I saw on Newbury Street when I had to work those dreadful early shifts in the hotel, every BUCC retreat/SNL/spaghetti supper, every sacrament, every moment with the diversified variety of roommates I’ve had the privilege to live with…everything.

If there’s one lesson I’ve learned (and will probably have to learn over and over again), it’s that God can bring an incredible good out of suffering, and to take the sorrows alongside the joys in growing closer to the Lord. Yes, we have suffered, and we discerned that it was good for us to leave, but boy, did we have an abundance of joy as well, and that is what I choose to take with me. (And of course we will visit!)

“Son,’he said,’ ye cannot in your present state understand eternity…That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why…the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, “We were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.” ― C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce
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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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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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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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Day of Rest

Ever since senior year of college, Sunday’s have been my absolute favorite day of the week. In learning to enter into the [new] Sabbath, the day is greatly enriched. It started out simple, but even four years ago, I think my heart really got it. It was the day of rest, the day to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection, and the day to be in community. And our community at the BU Catholic Center really demonstrated the beauty of the day, whether or not people realized it. The Catechism, which answers most my questions when I go looking, says, “The institution of the Lord’s Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives.” [CCC 2184]

Sundays

Leaving college, I began a more routine way of life, which is a great thing for me, personally. And Sundays  continued to be similar in heart, though the community aspect was different. I still relished it where I could, and tried to explore how to best live this day. Fast forward to married life, and the Sabbath has just gotten even better.

Being together every weekend has been a blessed adventure, and we’ve both taught one another different ways to truly enter into the Sabbath. For instance, Kevin has really helped me to see the value in not working on the Sabbath. Now, I’m not just talking about not going into the office, or not doing homework. I mean no work. No big projects around the apartment, no shopping, no serious life planning (ie: budgeting, travel plans, etc.). This part is the toughest for me as I always feel I have something to do, but it also really sets the day apart. I now understand what it means to work for six days and to rest on the seventh. My Saturdays have become busier with chores, errands, and miscellaneous work, but it makes our Sundays truly great. And in a way, I feel like I’m able to glorify God more with my six days of work and one day of true rest.

What’s even better, though, is that our Sundays are by no means a lazy. We would both have a hard time enjoying our day if we felt it was a wasted day. It’s filled with Mass, homemade brunch, nice long walks, prayer, a well-prepared dinner & dessert, time for reading or watching something together, and just good quality time with one another. That may vary a bit, but that’s the gist. It’s also nice to have a day to enjoy the clean and tidy apartment after the work has already been put in. And we try to incorporate community (outside of Mass) where we can. The Sabbath should be celebrated with people, it’s a day to nourish our friendships. 

Each Sunday, we find we appreciate  the Sabbath more. We love what it does for our souls, we love what it does for our marriage. We’re still very much learning what it means to enter into the Sabbath: to celebrate the resurrection, the fulfillment of creation, and the day of rest. And I’m sure when our family grows, how we celebrate Sunday will evolve, and we’re so excited!

 

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