Back from the Here I Am Lord conference! Sr. Laura and I had a dual display: vocational on one side, and a regular Pauline book display on the other (multi-tasking, as always!). It was a terrific experience at a wonderful parish. At yesterday's 9:45 Mass, after receiving communion, I watched the parishioners approach the Eucharist. One by one, they all bowed: young, old, tiny, teen. (The teens' bangs flopped forward as they bowed!) The pastor preached about Confession, and gave everyone a heads-up that next week's bulletin would have a helpful guide to making the examination of conscience for the Sacrament of Penance. But St. Patrick's is not a "retro" type parish, reveling in traditional expressions of Catholic piety and eschewing anything with a copyright after 1965. It is architecturally very modern (actually, the parish has two Churches!) and the music was what you'd find in any typical suburban parish (only generally better executed). It's a very put-together, vibrantly Catholic parish.
There Here I Am Lord vocations conference is hosted and supported by St. Patrick's. This year's presenters included Tony Melendez, Jason Evert and Gianna Jessen (one of the few people around whose birth certificate was signed by a very surprised abortionist). Gianna (on the left) impressed me the most. Not only because of her striking life story, but because it seemed that she lives, every day, with some pretty profound interior pain, and every day she chooses not to let that interior suffering (or the crippling effects of the saline abortion she suffered in utero) dominate her life. I heard so much pain in her voice that I could not stay to listen to the whole talk she gave, but the catechists said she had the teens mesmerized.
HIAL is a vocations conference, so there were talks on the different states in life, and displays staffed by members of close to 50 religious communities. Here are some photos from the vocations exhibits: