Goodbye Montclair

Men Senior Send Off

Goodbye Montclair. Wow it’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years. It seems like just yesterday I jumped out of my car on a late August night, Illinois snapback and all, to be greeted by Father Jim and Mike (the first one). Father Jim quickly grabbed some things to help me bring them upstairs, but Mike just stood to the side awkwardly. “Uh, Mike, are you going to help?” He responded that ever since he donated his spleen (or whatever organ it was) to his friend, he can’t do any physical activity for a few more weeks. So that’s how my #mishlife started…

I didn’t even know where Montclair State University was. No lie, I thought that it was in Montana at first. It started with an M and Father Jim had a beard. I just put two and two together and assumed I was going west when I read my letter from Perla at placement night. Everyone was running to go join their teams, but I was conflicted because I wanted to pray and thank God and ask for His and Our Lady’s blessing on my time as a FOCUS missionary. So after walking a few steps towards the mass of people… I turned around to walk over to the Ave Maria Oratory. It turns out that Father, Perla, Mike, and Ania actually saw me and were waving to me, so to them it must have looked like I ditched them after seeing them (even though I was totally in another world at the time). To this day they tease me about it hahaha. But it turns out that Montclair is in New Jersey. And we can see NYC and the World Trade Center from our front porch. So I got to learn a lot about New Jersey, NYC, and the whole East coast over the past two years. My favorite thing about the area has probably been the Appalachians. I’ve really gotten into hiking more since I’ve been away from the vast flatness of Illinois and the Midwest.

Being a missionary for these past two years has been such a blessing. I can’t count how many times I’ve been able to watch God work miracles and touch lives. There have been some big ones that I’ll just generally list by name: Liam, Jeff, Jon, Anthony, Anahi (and like all her fam and friends), and Rob. And on top of that there have been some just as important slow but steady conversions of heart that I’ve been privileged to watch in people like Andrew, Brenden, Ian, Mathias, Henry, Jantzen, Justin, and Charles. But hey, God’s worked in more than just those people’s lives. He’s worked in each one of us and it’s been an honor to walk with you all towards Christ. As long as we are open to God’s love, He will work amazing things through us.

I’d like to give a special thank you to Father Jim, Mary, and Kevin for your support and all that you do for us at Newman Catholic. You all make it so much easier for us to live and grow in our faith here in college.

And I’d like to also especially thank my fellow missionaries! Kerry, Kristin, Ania, Perla, Mike, and Mike. You guys are the best and it’s been such an honor to serve Jesus with you! I’m so blessed with your friendships and inspired by your desire to serve God in whatever way He calls you. And I want to thank you so much for joining me in this mission!

All of you students mean so much to me and I’ll treasure our experiences and friendships for years to come. I’m excited to see how each of your grow and how you live your lives! If you want some parting words of wisdom, here’s what I’ve got. Put God first, then everything else will fall into place. Remember that this life is not just here on Earth, but an eternal one. How you live matters. Live it in a way that honors our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and you’ll have the most joyful and fulfilling life possible. I’m not saying that it’ll be easy. We weren’t created for comfort, but for greatness, as Pope Benedict said. Let’s continue to fight the good fight and know of my prayers for you all! Please pray for me too!

So I want to say goodbye to you all, or adios (I treasured my time with the LASO community as well!), but I want to say it in the true meaning of the words:

Good Bye…  “God be with you.”

Adios… “Go with God.”

Jon’s Testimony: A Jew on the Path to Catholic Conversion

The following is a testimony by my friend Jon, who I got to know over the past year at Montclair State University.

Jon and I

Coming into my Junior year I began with my Jewish religious beliefs, but would later come into an encounter with Jesus Christ at Montclair State. My first thoughts of Newman Catholic my first two years was that they were a Catholic cult on campus like I had felt before attending a couple of Catholic services. I WAS SO WRONG with everything, but my roommate Jeff, who will take no credit even though he deserves it a lot, has shown me a way to live my life through Catholicism and to a closer understanding of who Jesus is. We had made an agreement with each other that if he came to a Hillel (Jewish) service that I would come to a Newman Catholic event, and obviously I am still here today. My first event was mass and adoration at the Newman Center and it was an awesome experience between Father Jim’s homily to the atmosphere of the Newman Center. My main reason for coming back was the awesome people that were completely accepting and really welcoming, something that I hadn’t experienced too much in my own faith. Over the entire spring semester my connection with Jesus became stronger, thanks to getting involved heavily with Newman events ranging from weekly Sunday mass, Thursday mass and adoration, CIA, and more.

Throughout the semester I had attended mass as it was a fun environment and a way to pray with friends. My faith towards Judaism had not been present in my life. It wasn’t until my 21st birthday when I realized that I needed a change in my life. Leading into my birthday I had a toga party with my fraternity and got drunk and passed out. The next day and over the night there was a huge snowstorm and my car had been towed from my fraternity house and they kept trying to wake me up but couldn’t. I woke up and felt awful and I decided that the darkness and evilness had done me in for the last time.
When elections for E-board came for the 2014-15 year I ran for treasurer and won. I decided to run due to the fact that I wanted to give back to MSU Newman Catholic for all they have done for me, being in a dark place and showing me a light at the end of the tunnel. The other reason was to spread the Gospel of Jesus and evangelize on the MSU campus.

An instance that occurred on Palm Sunday would confirm everything for me. It was a typical mass on Palm Sunday during personal prayers after Eucharist when it hit me LITERALLY. I felt a jolt back with my body and it was a feeling like no other. I had no idea what it was at first but it was the cross hitting me on the head throwing me back in my chair. After mass I talked to Father Jim about it and he told me to contemplate it, which I did the next few weeks leading into the Easter season. More events like this encouraged me, for example at next meal I ate, my fortune cookie said “Among the lucky, you are the chosen one.” Through bible studies, masses, and talks with Father Jim as well as the missionaries, I have taken it upon myself to engage in conversion and RCIA for my senior year.

Later in the semester, speaker Leah Darrow came to MSU and gave a testimony. Three words during it stood out to me and returned to my head multiple times: “Jesus is home.” This is something that I have thought about whenever praying. Her father told her when she was in her darkest moments of her life. Using that quote I came up with one of my own, “Newman Catholic and the Catholic faith are home.” This year has 100% been up and down, but it is clear now to me which way to go from here on out.
I can see my life being turned around in everyday life. God and Catholicism have shown me the way I want to live the rest of my life. I am proud of being a Jew and my faith tradition, but as a Jew it is my job to follow the Messiah. I believe that Jesus is the Messiah and I am excited to enter into His Christian Catholic Church.

Ask and It Will Be Given to You

I’ve got two amazing prayer stories to share with you from the past week so far!

First, one of my friends, Brenden, has had a nagging pain in his shoulder for the past 9 months from a wrestling injury. After his invitation, a group of three of us prayed over him that his shoulder would heal on Sunday night. On Monday afternoon, he came up to me saying that his shoulder has no pain at all! For the rest of the week (today is 4 days later), it’s been the same story, his shoulder is feeling great! Praise God for His mercy in showing us His power.

The other time was just today during bible study. There were only two guys in study today, and as great as these guys are, we need to do more outreach in getting other guys to join us. The following statement by Pope Francis came to my mind, “When the Church does not come out of itself to evangelize, it becomes self-referential and then gets sick.” I decided that the best way to do outreach is to encourage us all to invite more guys by listing out loud who we are interested in inviting and then we all would pray for everyone listed every day this week. We closed study by praying for those guys, and guess who we run into immediately afterwards but one of them! We were introduced by the guy who knew him and this guy told us that he was very interested in joining! I was able to get his number so that I can invite him next week!

Praise God for His goodness and mercy! Don’t be afraid to ask God for what you need, He love to provide for the faithful. Matthew 7:7. Remember, evangelization starts with prayer.