I am not going to write this paper in a way that covers every detail on a day by day basis as I have done in the past. I will be very honest from the very beginning that I have mixed feeling about this retreat as I will explain later in this paper. Without a doubt the highlight of this trip for me was an in-depth conversation with Fr. ______ _____ MC and something he revealed to me pertaining to a particular event I am currently experiencing in Emmitsburg. I will get to that later.
The Missionary of Charity Fathers worldwide have begun a new movement with all of the necessary approvals. This movement is called the “I Thirst Movement”. This retreat was the official start of this new movement and about 80-90 people from around the world attended and 8 of us were from Emmitsburg. There are 33 Missionary of Charity priest in the world and 17 of them were in Tijuana for this retreat.
It was a truly wonderful retreat and I did enjoy it. I also learned a lot but I never truly felt drawn to it in a way that some of the other people in our group were drawn to it and I think I know why, but I will explain that later.
This feeling started before we even left. Originally there were twelve of us from Emmitsburg who were going to go. We bought 12 non transferable, non refundable tickets and only 8 of those people ended up going. The other 4 each met obstacles that prevented them from going. It seemed something was wrong. I almost did not go because my heart was just not there for whatever reason, but I did go and I am glad I did.
Sunday September 3
Susan and I arrived home last night from Wayne Weible’s talk on Medjugorje that he gave at Liberty Mountain Resort. When we arrived home I tried to get some rest before leaving for Mexico but I could not.
Peter Kahne was scheduled to pick up everybody going on the retreat at 2:15 AM at Harriet M’s house to drive us to BWI Airport for our 6 AM departure. Everyone was there on time except Peter who was about 10 minutes late. We loaded our luggage in his van and pulled out and the time on his dash was 2:33.
We arrived at the airport and flew to Houston, Texas where we changed planes to fly to San Diego, California. We were picked up in San Diego by several Lay Missionary of Charity people who then drove us to The Missionary of Charity House in Tijuana, Mexico. Because of the time difference we arrived at the Mission at 1:13.
I don’t know exactly what I was expecting but I was a little distressed at first because of the surrounding slum conditions. My first reaction was that I did not want to be there. It was depressing.
A short while later I ran into Fr. Ray Walsh MC who I knew from Emmitsburg. A short time later Fr. _______ _____ MC spotted me and came up to say hello and I felt more at ease. Later in the evening Fr. _______ said mass and at the consecration I suddenly felt the peace. I glanced at my watch and the time was 6:13. Mass ended and the time was 6:33.
The “I Thirst” retreat was officially kicked off with a wonderful Mexican dinner complete with Mexican dancers and music. When it ended I went to my room shared with Phil C, four other people and several thousand ants. I looked at my watch as I went to bed and the time was 9:13.
Monday September 4
The following morning Fr. Ray Walsh invited us to take about a 20 minute walk with him to the Missionaries of Charity Sisters house. It was a very bleak walk that took us through the worst of the Tijuana slums. We arrived at the MC Sister’s house and the time was 10:13.
It was a very interesting visit once we got there and it was explained to us how all of the research and investigation into the canonization of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta is done from that very location. We returned to the MC Father’s house and I found what I considered my favorite spot near a statue of Our Lady in the seminary courtyard. I sat down and caught up all of my notes. I finished and glanced at my watch and the time was 12:33.
There were no formal activities for the retreat scheduled for today so the rest of the day was spent trying to escape the horrendous heat and humidity. Later in the day I was introduced to a man from San Francisco, California named Bart B. Bart said he had just returned from visiting friends in "hometown", Virginia and had been attending mass at "Parish Church".
Bart said he was considering moving to Front Royal because he has been offered a job helping set up a new Catholic High School there. Later in the evening I had a sudden thought that I should tell him about Our Lady of Emmitsburg. As this thought crashed through my mind I glanced at my watch and the time was 4:33 and it happened again at 8:33.
Tuesday September 5
Today is the first official talk and presentation of the “I Thirst” movement by the MC Fathers. The first talk was presented by Fr. ______ _____ who I have know for a good while. The day started with a 6 AM Holy Hour followed by breakfast. Fr. ______’s talk was scheduled for 8 am but was running late. When it started Fr. ______ opened with a Hail Mary. I glanced at my watch and the time was 8:13:33.
It was a great talk about false thirst and quenching desires that does not fall in line with God’s desire for us. After Fr. ______’s talk he brought out a large crucifix and a bowl of vinegar. The vinegar represented our sins. He had each person line up and come up to the cross and dip a sponge in the vinegar and offer it to Jesus dying on the Cross. Fr. ______ said our continued sin is like offering Jesus vinegar to drink at the peak of His suffering. The last person in a line of about 80 offered Jesus the vinegar and the time was 9:33.
The day continued and the next talk was presented by Fr. Joseph Langford who is one of the original MC Fathers. He gave a series of talks throughout the retreat and his first one began today and the time was 3:33:13. Needless to say it was a powerful and well presented talk but I was still not feeling 100% at peace with everything going on. I felt like something was pulling at me.
Later in the evening while we were having dinner one of the MC Fathers said they would be hearing confessions in the church starting at 8 PM. I decided that I would go. Eight o’clock came and there were no priest in the church. The first priest came in and the time was 8:13.
A few minutes later Fr. _______ _____ came in. I got in his line and there were 2 people in front of me. They were both in the confessional for what seemed like a very long time. I prayed the rosary while I was waiting. When the person in front of me came out I glanced at my watch as I was going in and it said XX:XX:33.
What happened next was totally unexpected and I instantly came to realize that my time with Fr. _______ was the real reason I was in Tijuana to begin with. I sat down and Fr. _____ was happy to see me. He then said “I have something I must tell you.” He then said “The time is now.” He followed that statement with “On behalf of The Holy Spirit, thank you for all you have done and will continue to do for Our Lady in Emmitsburg.” Fr. _______ then confirmed that statement by saying again that The Holy Spirit prompted him to say it.
Fr. _______ then asked if I wanted to go to confession, just talk or both. I chose both. For my penance we prayed one Our Father together. We then sat there and talked for what seemed like a long time. Fr. _______ said he believes God The Father is moving fast in Emmitsburg and good things are happening. He also said there are a “good number” of the MC Fathers who believe in the apparitions in Emmitsburg and offer that intention to God in every one of their masses. He said they are in a quiet, prayerful, non confrontational role.
Fr. _______ then told me that he met with Gianna Sullivan a few weeks ago in San Diego. He said Gianna called him and said she would like to meet with him if possible. Fr. ______ then explained how his schedule is always full and he can never just get up and leave. It just so happened that his schedule was open and he had free time just at the time Gianna requested to meet with him. Fr. ______ said this could not have just happened this way.
They met in San Diego at Kathy H’s home and talked. They prayed the rosary together. Our Lady came while Kathy was leading the rosary. Fr. ______ said this was the first time he ever prayed the rosary with Gianna when Our Lady did not come during his decade.
Fr. ______ then switched the subject over to me and said “Now tell me how you are doing with what you have been experiencing”. I then told him that I have seen Our Lady of Emmitsburg for a 2nd time but this time in a dream and I described the events of this past May 28th. Fr. ______ then said “Do you remember I told you that was going to happen”? I said “Yes Father, I do remember you telling me that.”
Fr. ______ then asked me if I remembered the very first thing he said to me tonight when I first entered the confessional and sat down. He then repeated what he said which was “The time is now.” He then explained to me that it is time for me to tell Gianna EVERYTHING.
This stunned me beyond belief because he had no idea that I have been planning on doing this for the past several months. It gave me strength. Fr. ______ then said what I have been experiencing and written about is an important part of the events in Emmitsburg and the time has come to share them and bring it out into the open. He then said that he includes Gianna Sullivan in each and every one of his masses and from here on out he was including me and my family as well.
I got up to leave and there were more people still waiting to go to confession. As I was leaving Fr. ______ gave me a hug and asked if I had a bottle of water that I could bring back to him. I walked back to my room and got a bottle of water and took it back to him. I then walked back to my favorite spot in the seminary court yard and sat down to think about what had just happened. As I sat down at the statue of Our Lady I glanced at my watch and the time was 10:33:33.
Wednesday September 6
Fr. Ray Walsh started the “I Thirst” retreat this morning with a prayer service that resembled the Easter Vigil. Complete with fire. We were scheduled to be there at 5:00 but because some people were running a little late it actually began at 5:13.
I was not feeling well and was sick for the next 2 days but somehow I made it through the entire day. The highlight for me today was at lunch. Karen Major was talking to Fr. John Moran MC. Fr. John is assigned to the MC House in Mexico City. Karen was telling him about the apparitions in Emmitsburg. Fr. John already knew about them.
Karen then asked me if I had any information on the apparitions that I could give him. Fr. John said he would like to have some. I walked back to my room and got the information for him and as I turned around to go back and give it to him I glanced at my watch and the time was 1:33:00.
Thursday September 7
I was still feeling sick today. There was actually a break in the schedule today and the MC Fathers had arranged for a bus to come pick us up and take us into the better part of town. We visited the Mexican Cultural Center Museum. It was a nice break to go somewhere that had a little air conditioning. We also watched an I-Max movie about ocean life in Baja California. On the bus ride back to the MC House someone said “Look out the window.” I looked out and there was a huge statue of Christ that looked like it was a hundred feet tall. As I saw this I glanced at my watch and the time was 6:13.
Friday September 8
Today is the Feast of Our Lady’s birth and also Fr. ___’s birthday. The day was full of different talks by many of the MC Fathers. Daily mass was scheduled to begin at noon but it was late getting started. When mass began I glanced at my watch and the time was 12:13:13. Fr. Darren Dentino MC was the priest. Mass ended and Fr. Joseph Langford gave another talk. He explained the details of being a member of the “I Thirst” movement. He talked about the mandatory weekly meetings that must take place. He gave us a guideline for the weekly meetings which should take about 2 hours. He discussed the commitment required. I realized that what was being asked was more than I could offer and I began to understand why I never really felt a strong attraction to this in the first place. I also realized again what I already knew and that was the real reason I was here was to have my talk with Fr. ______. Later in the evening we ended the day with a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament and it ended at 7:13.
Saturday September 9
We had a group picture taken today on the steps leading to the church followed by breakfast. We finished and as we got up to go to the first talk of the day I glanced at my watch and the time was 8:13. It was another long day and we ended it with a rosary procession through the slums of Tijuana. The rosary procession began at 6:13.
Sunday September 10
The retreat officially ended last night but we stayed an extra day. We went to mass this morning at another church about a mile away from the MC House. The name of the parish is Holy Family. Fr. Ray Walsh is the pastor there and the church is still under construction using any piece of scrap wood or metal that can be obtained. However it was a joyful attitude there and they fixed lunch for us after mass.
Monday September 11
Our original plans of attending the 7 am mass this morning suddenly changed when Kathy Hibbard said there was a long backup the the US / Mexico border and we need to leave now. When she said this I glanced at my watch and the time was 6:33. We had 2 cars drive us back to the San Diego airport for our flight home. The traffic in Mexico was horrible and got worse as you got closer to the US.
We finally made it back to the airport with a little time to spare. We got something to eat and boarded our plane. As we were flying back the girl sitting next to me asked where we had been. I told her. She asked how we got involved with something like the Missionaries of Charity. I explained how it all got started in Emmitsburg and the events taking place there. She was fascinated and wanted to know more. I reached up to the overhead bin to get the Our Lady of Emmitsburg website card to give to her and as I did I noticed the time on my watch was 6:13.
We landed in Baltimore and Peter Kahne was there to pick us up. We rode back to Emmitsburg and Peter dropped each person off at there house. I was about the 4th person dropped off. We pulled into my driveway and the time on Peter’s dash was 1:33.
I would like to express my true feeling about this retreat. It was a truly wonderful retreat. One of the very best I have ever attended but I did not like the fact that you can not belong to both the LCM and the I Thirst Movement. You have to choose one or the other. But I also had to consider everything that is currently going on. I did not feel I could properly do this and everything else that is going on.
I thought about getting over loaded and biting off more than I can chew and other people doing the same. I thought about the possibility of doing too many things and not doing any of them well. I felt there was a distraction which made me feel uneasy. I do not think I am going to enter the “I Thirst” movement for these reasons. I honestly feel the real reason I went was for my talk with Fr. ______.R_____ C___
Sep 24, 2006