Young Adults Retreat – Reflections, part II

On May 16-18, the Young Adults had their annual retreat at the beautiful Camp Saint Joseph in the Russian River Valley.  Here is the second of four reflections from our retreat guests.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!



photo 1 (2)This was my first year attending the St. Dominic’s YAG Retreat. Though the theme involved “learning to stop worrying and love myself,” the beginning of the experience actually made me start worrying. Registration closed before I could commit. That was eventually resolved, but then meetings at work ran late the first day, my carpool fell through, and I forgot a few things at home. My stress level continued to rise as I sat in traffic dreading being “that guy” who missed the registration deadline, showed up late, and generally ruined everything.

But, as it turned out, God had something else in mind for me. I found an alternate route through beautiful forests and rolling hills for the remainder of my journey. I arrived in the midst of a wine and cheese social with a picturesque view of the Russian River, and 20 other people had yet to arrive. Instead of feeling left out, I was asked to read at the first prayer service that night, and my nonchalant decision to bring my guitar, “just in case,” made me a de facto accompanist for Mass music. This gave me the pleasure of playing with our stellar choir and amazing pianist. The Lord provides, indeed.

I found myself immersed in a series of beautiful Masses and prayer services, small group discussions, early morning runs, challenging questions, heartfelt keynote talks, and late-night philosophical debates. Through all these experiences, I truly did learn about how to stop worrying so much. But what struck me most was the wonderfully rich community St. Dominic’s fosters. I connected with complete strangers, and we were all immediately willing to open up to each other about our struggles and deep-seated convictions. This is the sort of relationship I have been able to find nowhere else in San Francisco. And with that under my belt, when the next retreat comes around, my inevitable late arrival won’t worry me so much.

Guest Post: How Not to be a Missionary

Guest Post: Tricia Bolle

India-villageA few more years ago than I care to think about, I graduated from Stanford University with a degree that put Asia in my path.  At the time, I had a couple good job offers to move back East – something I was very tempted to do.  Yet my experience as a grad student in China and the great need that I saw there among other college students and young adults kept daring to pull me back to Asia.  I had gotten this crazy idea in my head that if I went back to Asia, I could help address the need that I saw there – psychological, emotional, spiritual, sometimes just offering hope and helping people find their way – and really make a difference in people’s lives. 

It wasn’t long before I started an educational nonprofit to do just that.  But I wasn’t a missionary.  On my last few dimes, I would head over to Asia, where I’d spend most of my time giving presentations and workshops helping college students and young adults discover their purpose in life, learn to deal with struggles and hardship, find hope in the midst of despair, and be a source of encouragement and support, offering help where I could.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

015 (1)In going to church I found spiritual sustenance, but found I wasn’t connecting at the level I wanted with the local people.  So I started going to Mass in the local language.  Suddenly, I was meeting people regularly who began to open up their lives to me and share their faith with me as I would with them.  And somewhere along the line, the Holy Spirit would give me the words I needed to offer them strength, hope and wisdom.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

Not long after I started going to Asia, the people I met around me would start inviting me into their homes and their Bible studies and to meals with them and their friends at their favorite local restaurants where we’d talk long into the night about faith and life and where God is leading each of us, before racing to make it home on the last bus or train.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

Pretty soon, people and pastors were asking me to get more involved in teaching and leading activities in faith formation and in learning important life skills.  I even began fielding requests to travel into the countryside to address other great needs there with education and training.  Almost always on a shoestring budget or lack thereof.  I know what it’s like to beg for $1.50 in a foreign tongue just to catch a bus to town and to sleep on a cold cement floor in the middle of winter completely jetlagged after having just come off a plane all because of some greater calling God was leading me to in a foreign culture.  But I wasn’t a missionary.

photoAs a Catholic, Christian missionaries came in three types:  priests, sisters and Protestants.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  Missionaries stand on street corners or soap boxes with a Bible in one hand and a megaphone or sheaf of pamphlets in the other.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  In some of the places I went in Asia, saying the name of God wasn’t even an option.  So I wasn’t a missionary.  I’m just a person God called to Asia to share the hope and love of Jesus Christ with all those I meet in whichever way the Holy Spirit provides.  So I’m just Tricia, a young woman who has opened herself up to God’s will for her life… to be a foreign lay missionary in Asia.

As Christians, we are all called by Jesus to be missionaries of the Gospel.  What kind of missionary are you?

Tricia Bølle is the founder of the St. Francis Xavier Lay Missionary Society, dedicated to the formation, sending and support of Catholic lay missionaries to share the love of Jesus Christ with others in Asia.  To support this ministry or learn how to become involved, please visit or contact Tricia at  Thanks and God bless.

Tricia will be presenting on the Church in China on Wednesday, June 11, 2014, at the Young Adults Group meeting.

Our Pastor’s Corner, June 8, 2014, Pentecost Sunday

h “What gift do you want?” Before my Confirmation, my whole class gathered with Bishop Michael Kenny in an informal “meet and greet.” Since he was visiting from Juneau, Alaska, he wanted to meet us before the Confirmation and I remember that he was very personable. He told a few jokes and even shared stories about himself. Then he asked us a very pointed question, “What gift do you want?” I have to admit that my first thoughts were about the family reception following the Mass and the cards and presents which I would receive. So the Bishop continued, “The Holy Spirit is eager to give you a personal gift at Confirmation, but you have to be ready. So, what gift do you want?”

Hurley_close_Pentecost_finalToday on Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate the gift of the Spirit in our lives. In fact, in many ways, Pentecost is the birthday of the Church. Though the Gospel had been conceived in their hearts during Christ’s three years of preaching and healing, after the Ascension, the disciples found themselves unsure of how to continue Jesus’ work. Gathered in the Upper Room of the Last Supper for nine days of prayers, the disciples prepared for the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Agriculturally, Pentecost (or Shavu’ot) commemorates the time when first fruits of the harvest were brought to the Temple to be dedicated to God. In this way, it is akin to our Thanksgiving. Historically and theologically, Pentecost celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Seven weeks after escaping from slavery in Egypt, God frees Israel from spiritual bondage with the gift of a special covenant. Fifty days after ascending the mount, Moses descended Sinai with the 10 commandments. The gift of the 10 commandments constituted God’s covenant by which the Israelites were formed to be a special people. Thus at Pentecost, the nation of Israel was born.



Pentecost morning found Jesus’ disciples gathered to celebrate this gift of covenant and wait for the Spirit Jesus had promised. Just as Moses ascended Mount Sinai in order to descend with the Torah, so too, Christ ascended into heaven in order to send his Spirit of covenant. The Spirit’s fierce fiery flames forge the followers of Christ, forming them into a powerhouse of preaching. Ecstatically emboldened, Peter witnesses to the Gospel empowered with the gift of tongues. Speaking the “language of the Spirit,” all those who were gathered for the feast of Pentecost from difference places in the world were enlightened as the Spirit was enkindled in their hearts. The five thousand who were baptized on that day are the first of those who now tally more than 1.2 billion strong. Thus at Pentecost, the Church is born.

Seven-Gifts-Holy-SpiritOn this birthday of the Church, the Holy Spirit is eager to give us gifts. Bishop’s Kenny’s question on my Confirmation day applies to all of us, “What gift do you want?” Perhaps, like me, your initial response to this question is, “I’m not sure.” If so, the challenge is to discover how we are called and gifted by the Spirit to make a difference in the world. For this reason, I invite you to attend our Called and Gifted Workshop which takes place June 13-14 (see details inside). The goal of the workshop is to recognize that God has graced each one of us with unique spiritual gifts. When we name these gifts, we can share them with our family and friends, our workplace and community. Come learn how the Spirit works and be prepared to have the Spirit enliven your life. After this weekend, you will be able to answer the question, “What gift do you want?” and be empowered to put it into practice.

This Pentecost Sunday, we reconnect with the moment of our Confirmation, to live from the Spirit within us to speak a word of wisdom and counsel, understanding and encouragement. Just as the seven-fold gifts of the spirit were conceived in the minds and hearts of the disciples at Pentecost, we ask the Spirit to come alive in our lives. Today, we pray to be born anew from the fire of the Spirit whose flame is kindled within us.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., 

Music for the Birthday of the Church

simonberryGuest Post: Simon Berry

Continuing their work with Scotland’s most prominent living composer, and lay Dominican, James MacMillan, O.P., the Schola Cantorum present the third of his Strathclyde Motets on Pentecost Sunday.

The Schola’s uniquely warm and graceful sound is well-suited to MacMillan’s creative persona and he has here presented them with something which tests not so much their collective virtuosity as their most profound musical instincts.

James MacMillan has always shown a flair for dramatic portrayals of spiritual conflict: light against dark, anxiety and despair against consolation. It is blazingly evident in these choral pieces, which conjure astonishing sounds and also at times a distinctly folk-like flavor. Technically they often pose huge demands, especially the slithering descents and chromatic shifts of Ascension Sunday’s motet.

Never forsaking the ancient in pursuit of the modern, the Schola Cantorum also present Monteverdi’s stunningMass In Four Voices and Victoria’s luminescent motet Dum Complerentur.

11:30 am Solemn Mass, every Sunday of the year.  See you there! 

Young Adults Retreat – Reflections, part I

In mid-May, the Young Adults had their annual retreat at the beautiful Camp Saint Joseph in the Russian River Valley.  I had asked one of the members of the YAG Leadership Team to ask retreatants to share their experiences.  As June rolls on, we will hear from four of our retreat guests.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!


Barreling across the Golden Gate Bridge, I shared in the collective hope of a group of people who yearned to learn to love themselves. I shared also in the weight of guilt and regret and sin and worry. In short, the topic of the retreat appealed to me.

photo 1 (2)For me, the weekend was truly enlivening. In some sense, I can’t untangle the solace and inspiration I felt from the names of the people I spent time with: my recent conversion to Catholicism was affirmed by Ashley’s enthusiasm, my fear about relationships was healed by the visible love between Bill and Nicole, my anxiety was diminished by Christian’s empathy, my joy revealed again and again by Tessa, Katy, Dan, Martin, and Chinelo, and my faith was fortified by time spent alone in prayer.

Before the retreat, I felt that my mind had become overgrown with trees of despair and doubt, and my only comfort was that perhaps no one would find me lost in that forest. As the weekend began, the retreat started opened my eyes, but all I saw was men as trees, walking. By the end of the retreat, as I careened back down the mountain toward my home, I was relieved to have found that the light of love lives in the men and women of St. Dominic’s. To learn to love myself, I needed only to see the love that a group of near strangers offered to me. For your love and encouragement, I am extremely grateful.

God’s blessing!

Visiting a Saint at Brompton Oratory

On the second to last day of my trip in London, I met a hero.  Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman.

newmanBlessed Newman (21 February 1801 – 11 August 1890) is the unofficial patron saint of Campus Ministry in the United States.  He gave the Church the opportunity to peer into our tradition with academic rigor unheard of since Aquinas.  He was a model, I think, of a believer that wanted to believe even deeper.  A lover of God who wanted to illuminate the richness and depth of the tradition in a myriad of ways.  The persecution that he had undergone throughout his life showed him Christ’s compassion, and through him, God allows us a model of how all of us can respectfully question our tradition and fall in love with the tradition in which we are a fleeting member.

So as I was saying, I found myself at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which is right next door to Brompton Oratory.  I couldn’t help but go inside.

There is a statue of Newman outside the Oratory.  Inside, there is also a side chapel dedicated to his intercession.  Sadly, his side altar is quite dark, so I failed to snap a picture.

I had spent a good time praying at various altars, gazing at the marble-work, and seeing a cleric set up for his own private Mass on the side altar.

Statue of Blessed Newman outside tht Brompton Oratory

Statue of Blessed Newman outside the Brompton Oratory

As I had been praying at the Sacred Heart Altar I heard a bell.  I strolled over to the nave.  I had seen about eight others in the nave, and an elderly cleric, dressed in a fiddleback chasuble, walk out and begin Mass.

I had been transported.

You see, when Newman converted from the Church of England to the Church of Rome, he became an Oratorian of St Philip Neri, the group that holds Brompton.  He was 44 years old.  It is ambiguous if he had actually been stationed here—nonetheless, we know that he had stayed there at some time.

So here I am, seeing an older cleric in a preconciliar vestment saying Mass.  I watched a priest vested just like Blessed Newman would have been vested saying Mass at the very same altar that Newman himself would have said Mass.   I had felt that Blessed Newman had tapped me on the shoulder and waved hello.

At least in the campus ministry world, praying to the saints had become passé.  Like, that’s something that your parents did, therefore, you ought not. However, the saints are just as present to us as any other member of our family.  Actually, the saints are even more present to us, because the saints are united with God in ways we know not—and because of that, they are more present in our lives than any members of the Church militant.

Brompton Oratory

Brompton Oratory

So perhaps Blessed Newman did tap me on the shoulder and wave.  I would rather like to think so.  I would rather think that the saints are with us, closer to us than our next breath, praying that our heart would speak to His heart, and bring us home rejoicing.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, June 1, 2014, The Ascension of the Lord

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

In front of the Ascension window in the Lady Chapel.  Credit: Cutler

In front of the Ascension window in the Lady Chapel. Credit: Mitchell

Aloha. It’s a traditional Hawaiian greeting which can mean either hello or goodbye, depending on the context. The celebration of the Ascension is Jesus’ “aloha” moment. Forty days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascends to greet his Father even as he says goodbye to his disciples. In other words, at the ascension, Jesus goes from us. This can be understood as Jesus going from us, that is, His body and soul departs in order to definitively enter into heaven. But in another way, by the ascension, Jesus goes from us. The ascension marks the culminating marriage of humanity with divinity as Jesus enters body and soul into heaven. Now once and for all, humanity sits at “the right hand of the Father” and intercedes for us all. Jesus’ ascension is the supreme moment of hope, pointing to our ultimate vocation. Where He once was, we now are; where He is now, we are destined to be.

And yet questions remain. Once, in explaining the feast of the ascension to a group of third graders, I was asked, “If Jesus loves us and lives forever, why did he leave?” It’s an excellent question. Again, consider Jesus’ final words before the ascension. After instructing his disciples to preach, teach and baptize all nations, he reassures them with the promise “know that I am with you always.” And then he leaves, He ascends. With good reason, we wonder how Jesus’ ascension does not vitiate His promise to be with us.

This leads us to the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of John, Jesus explains the ascension when He says, “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go, for if I do not go, my Spirit, the Counselor, will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”  Jesus ascends so that He can send His Spirit into our heart. This is why he instructs His followers to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ promises, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.” In order to fulfill His command to be witnesses to the Gospel, the disciples need the empowerment of the Spirit.

The Feast of the Ascension reminds us of our final home, while challenging us to discover

Pentecost, The Last Judgement, and the Ascension c. 1447-50.  Fra Angelico, OP

Pentecost, The Last Judgement, and the Ascension c. 1447-50.
Fra Angelico, OP

where the Spirit is alive in our daily life. In order receive the Spirit, we must follow the disciples, who after the Ascension, returned to the Upper Room of the Last Supper to wait in joyful hope. This original novena (there are traditionally nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday) prepared the minds and hearts of the disciples to be open to the promptings of the Spirit, so that they could preach with courage. Are we ready for the Spirit to renew our lives? How can we prepare?

I have two practical suggestions.

First, pray for those who will be and who are recently ordained. Yesterday we rejoiced as Frs. Peter Hannah and Justin Gable were ordained as Dominican priests, and Brs. Corwin Low and Gabriel Mosher were ordained as transitional deacons. Also, next Saturday, June 7, our very own young adult, Tony Vallecillo will be ordained for the San Francisco Archdiocese. Fr. Tony will celebrate his first Mass here at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 8, and all are welcome to come worship and receive his special first blessing. We celebrate these ordinandi and pray that their ministry is always led by the spirit.

Second, I invite you to attend our Called and Gifted Workshop, which takes place on June 13-14 (see inside for more details). The goal of the workshop is to recognize that God has graced each one of us with unique spiritual gifts. When we discover and can name these gifts, we can share them with our family and friends, our workplace and community. Come and learn how the Spirit works in our lives and be prepared to have the Spirit enliven your life. During this novena week, let us take time to reflect on how we can better open ourselves to the promptings of the Spirit, that we might discover Christ afresh in our lives and share this inspiration with others.

~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P., with the Ascension window as part of the Glorious Mysteries in the Lady Chapel.

The New, Catholic Evangelization – Catholic Hackathon & Called and Gifted Workshop

The Catholic Evangelization

This is a phrase that I have heard over and over ever since entering the Order.  When most

World Youth Day, Rio

World Youth Day, Rio

people hear the phrase, they get odd pictures in their mind about their fellow parishioners in suits and long dresses with the Baltimore Catechism in their hands and a monstrance or a family statue, going door to door.  Or they get the picture of Sister Mary of the Holy Name-That-Devotion in an overtly-stuffy habit peddling EWTN pamphlets.

However, as I see it, Catholic Evangelization is a very simple thing: inviting another to have an encounter with Jesus Christ.  When Paul preached at the gates of Corinth, or when Peter placed his hand on the shoulder of the begger, or when Jesus’ Mother spoke the last lines she had spoken in the Gospel of John, they all did the same thing—they pointed to Jesus.  They got out of the way and pointed the way to the Son of Man.

On Sept. 3, 2008,Pope Emertis Benedict XVI said, “Christianity is not a new philosophy or new morality. We are Christians only if we encounter Christ… Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we really become Christians… Therefore, let us pray to the Lord to enlighten us, so that, in our world, he will grant us the encounter with his presence, and thus give us a lively faith, an open heart, and great charity for all, capable of renewing the world.” (Emphasis mine.)

Catholic Evangelization is having the humility and knowledge of Jesus’ gifts that He had given us, and having the compassion to want others to be blessed by the Lord in the very same way. This is the mission of the entire Church, not only for the ordained or the consecrated religious—this is the mission of the entire Body of Christ.

In our parish, we have two events that are imbued with this urgency.  One is the Catholic Hackathon, and the other, the Called & Gifted Workshop.

PastedGraphic-1The Hackathon happens on June 6-7. This Hackathon invites software engineers, technical and creative minds together to form new ways to promote the Catholic faith and Gospel in the digital age.  We brainstorm and network the first night, and spend the next day, developing and building our idea or project.  Registration concludes on May 31st.

called-and-gifted-flyer-1024x675The Called and Gifted Workshop (June 13-14) introduces the idea that, by virtue of our baptism, the Holy Spirit has embues us with particular charism in order to fulfill our mission to bring others into a closer relationship with the Holy Trinity. We will discuss many of the Spirit’s Gifts, and offer examples of how other Christians have succeeded in bringing the Gospel Light to others.

As we head towards the climax of our Easter Season, may we, at St Dominic’s Catholic Church in the City by the Bay, bring about a Pentecost!


Prayer for our Military




we pray for our brothers and sisters who have served in the military. We pray in thanksgiving for their fortitude and their protection.  We pray in thanksgiving for their sacrifice and their service.  Bless them with your love, your healing peace and your life.

May your Father’s providence fall upon them, their families, and all of their works.  May their sacrifice be our inspiration to give of ourselves to our Church and our world.

Through Christ Our Lord.

Our Pastor’s (& Deacons’) Corner, May 25, 2014, Sixth Sunday of Easter

On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, we continue to follow the adventure of the early Church. Though persecuted, the apostles boldly preach, teach and heal in the name of Christ causing an explosion of Holy Spirit power which sends tremors of grace throughout the Roman Empire. Last week, we discovered how the apostles were aided in their preaching by the ministry of deacons ordained for service. The rich tradition of diaconal service continues here at St. Dominic’s. In order to better appreciate this wealth of diaconal ministry, last week we heard from Deacons Dan Rosen and Chuck McNeil. This weekend we hear from Deacon Mike and two preparing to be ordained, Jimmy Salcido and Dino Ornido. I hope that these stories have helped you to better appreciate and thank God for the blessings which our deacons are to St. Dominic’s. Keep them in your prayers as they continue bring Christ alive in our parish.
~Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

FrMDeaconand_color_cropDeacon Mike Curran: “I have been a member of St. Dominic’s parish for almost 20 years. Prior to my ordination in 2008 I served in the Landings ministry, the Parish Council, as a Mass coordinator and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, and assisted my late wife Dianna when she was the director of the parish Renew 2000. During formation I went to class one night a week at the Chancery, and one weekend a month at the seminary. I also served at the homeless shelter at 5th and Bryant, the Ozanam detox center at 8th and Howard, St. Boniface Parish in the Tenderloin for two years, as well as the baptismal class at St. Dominic for a year. Since ordination I taught the monthly baptismal class and the two-night monthly marriage prep class. I have celebrated the sacrament of baptism 275-300 times. I prepared 30-40 couples per year for marriage, preached occasionally, and worked in the Lima Center two days a week. I’ve also presided at weddings and funerals as needed, and counseled couples having difficulty in their marriage. Although I retired because of health issues I still try to help around the parish where I can. And I continue to assist the Dominican Sisters at Rose Court, where I live. From the time I began formation until now it has felt as if being a deacon was “just right” for me. If I had to pick one word to describe my diaconal service to the people of God at St. Dominic’s it would be: JOY!

Jimmy Salcido: “I was born in 1947, in this parish, at Stanford University Hospital, which is now CPMC on Sacramento and Buchanan Sts. I started setting up chairs in the parish hall 55 years ago. I took a hiatus of 40 years and resumed setting up chairs again in 1999. I entered the RCIA class that year with my sponsor, Mike Curran, who was not yet a deacon. Actually, I refer to Mike affectionately as my Godfather. For next three years I was the most blessed person at St. Dominic’s. I couldn’t receive; I could only cross my arms and get blessed. I never missed a Sunday. I probably hold the record for the longest reigning catechumen in the history of St. Dominic’s. Mike got a little grayer in those three years. As a catechumen, in 1999, I started serving as an usher. Back then we referred to it as the Hospitality Ministry. Presently, in addition to ushering, I’m a Mass Coordinator, an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist, a lector, a member of the outreach commission that oversees participation in the sandwich program, coffee minutes and second spring. I’m also a columbarium guardian. This brings us to why I want to be a deacon. Two years ago two deacons and a Dominican Sister reinforced what I have known since 1999–that I’ve been called to serve. At this point in my life there is nothing I want to do other than serve Jesus Christ, my family and His Church. A deacon is the bridge between the clergy and laity. In the deacon’s liturgical ministry, as in a mirror, the Church sees a reflection of her own diaconal character and is reminded of her mission to serve as Jesus did. This is what I aspire to do. Vatican II says, In a world hungry and thirsty for convincing signs of the compassion and liberating love of God, the deacon sacramentalizes the mission of the Church in his words and deeds, responding to the master’s command of service and providing real-life examples of how to carry it out. I would like to think that I’m doing this now.”

Dino Ornido: “I am 45 years old, and I am the husband of Katharine and father to Michael and Elle. who both just received Confirmation. I have been in both the diaconate formation and St Dominic’s for 2 years. My wife and I are currently involved in the Marriage Preparation ministry. We also serve as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion and lectors at the Sunday 5:30 mass. (I will soon be trained for the Acolyte ministry.) The reason why I want to be a deacon is I want to embrace more closely all God’s love and beauty I see in our world. I see God in my children’s eyes and in my wife’s kindness. I feel the love of God especially in times of trials and tragedies. I see it because no matter how bad things get, God always gets me through it in a way that humbles me. Being humbled nourishes me; I always feel growth in my heart and soul through God’s grace. God helps me see a love greater than all. His great love is both a mystery and lesson that life is truly a gift from God.”