Our Pastor’s Corner: Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome

110914_FrMichael_pastors_corner_adjustSince the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there.  He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”  His disciples recalled the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. (Jn. 2:13-18)

From the dawn of time, man has built altars for sacrifice.  From ancient pagans to the Jewish patriarchs, erecting sacred structures on high places reveals the natural instinct to worship.  Today we celebrate the Feast of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome.  While many think of St. Peter’s as the Pope’s main church, St. John Lateran is in fact the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.  Receiving a land from the wealthy Lateran family in the fourth century, Emperor Constantine built the original Basilica as a grand edifice worthy of worship. Through the years, St. John’s was torched by fire, shaken by earthquakes and battered by the ravages of war, and yet, it remains as the Pope’s cathedral.  The present Church was reconstructed in 1646, and since I have not had the opportunity to visit, I decided to take a virtual tour.  The Lateran’s towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds St. Peter himself celebrated Mass.  My virtual tour awakened a desire to visit in person someday!

In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus reinforces the importance of places for worship.  Flashing anger, Jesus casts out the money changers from the Temple, declaring it to be his Father’s house.”  Here Jesus reveals that the reason we celebrated feasts for church’s such as the Basilica of St. John’s is not simply because they are beautiful buildings of historic value, but precisely because they are places of worship where, united with Christ, we connect with our Father.

193One of the joys of bring pastor here at St. Dominic’s is the privilege of celebrating Mass daily either in the intimacy of the Lady Chapel or at the main altar in all of its grandeur.  Though I admit a bit of bias, I consider St. Dominic’s to be one of the most beautiful Churches in the City.  I am grateful that we have been gifted with such a precious treasure.  Like the Lateran, St. Dominic’s has its own storied history.   In 1873, the first St. Dominic’s Church was a wooden structure built by shipbuilders who constructed it entirely without nails! Quickly outgrowing this space, a second church was built in 1883.  Destroyed in the earthquake and fires of 1906, construction of the present Church commenced in 1923 and was completely in 1928.  More recently, after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Church was damaged and was in need of structural reinforcement.  Through the efforts of our dear Fr. Martin, efforts to Save God’s House were initiated.  The idea was to construct a “ring of steel” supported by flying buttresses which would encircle and stabilize the Church.  In the following years, these efforts continued and through the vision of Fr. Xavier included the restoration of the stain glass windows and other refurbishments.  Though most of this work is finished, because of insufficient funds at the time, there remains a final piece to complete.  Though steel reinforcements support the nave, apse and sanctuary, it is not connected at the front of the Church around the Christ in Glory window.

As pastor, I consider it to be a priority to finish this work, and so, even though the cost of completing this project has increased, and we still are still in need of funding, construction will commence under the continued direction of Cahill contractors beginning in January.  Though the idea of completing this project is exciting, it will mean some inconvenience as scaffold is erected in the choir loft and the window is boarded up for its protection.  I ask for your patience understanding as we complete this crucial project to preserve our beloved Church.  My hope is for construction to be complete for the celebration of St. Dominic’s Month in August.  As we gather to worship this weekend, we give thanks to God for the gift of this place where we can come week after week to celebrate God’s blessings and presence in our lives.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

“When you wish upon a star….”

You would think that I spent my entire time away in Universal Studios’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Believe it or not…I spent some time in Walt Disney World as well.

When my friends and I arrived at the front entrance of Magic Kingdom, we heard that well-known song from Pinnochio, When you wish upon a Star.

Confession: till recently, I rolled my eyes every time I heard that song.  Part of it was because I didn’t think it Christian, really, to wish upon stars.  It sounded so…wonky.  At the time, it sounded like a song about dreamers dreaming dreams and not doing anything.  Like the girl who is sitting outside her balcony window waiting for her prince despite the fact that no one knows that she is event there.  I’ve never been one to be content with complacency, and I felt, for a very long time, that this song promoted such things.

Now, I’m not saying that I’ve converted.  I don’t see myself throwing a smoking thurible filled with incense at Mickey anytime soon.  However…this is not a song about being complacent.  Actually, it’s a song about hope.

The song is about hoping against hope about the greatest dreams that we have.  For pinocchio_by_ireprincess-d4hni8vPinocchio, it’s becoming a real boy.  But for any of us, it’s about sainthood. My ultimate dream is getting myself a stained-glass window.  With me dressed in my habit, Nikes, and my Hogwarts schoolrobes. (Okay, maybe not the Nikes.)

Perhaps a better way to say it is that we can always wish (pray) upon the DayStar that we may obtain our ultimate dream of becoming the saints that we are called to be.

I’ve thought of something else while walking around Magic Kingdom.  Between Space Mountain and Cinderella’s Castle, it occurred to me that it is easy for us to wish upon our stars and leave it at that.  So many times, we would say in our hearts, “Oh, I want a job promotion” or “I want to get married” or “I want success”.  But we don’t do anything about it.  We talk about.  Whine about it.  Complain.  Yet do nothing.

When you wish upon a star, you are not simply wishing that someone else will do the work for you. Eventually, we have to investigate and ask what it takes to get a promotion.  It means screwing up the courage to ask someone out on a date.  It means emulating the successful and see how it can apply to our daily lives.  Though our sanctification is a gift, it is a gift that would taste better if we did works of charity, utilized our charisms and got involved in our life with Christ.

Cannot say that I am a fan of the song.  But it teaches us to hope, to dream, to follow the DayStar towards greater and amazing things.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, November 2, 2014, Commemoration of All Souls

Jesus said to the crowds,“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”(John 6:37-40)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs we set our clocks back to standard time, we enter the season of All Saints and All Souls. These twin celebrations remind us of the connective power of our faith. On All Saints Day, we ask for divine intercession from those who have arrived at their eternal reward and yet are not officially recognized as canonized saints. These “hidden” saints whom we encounter in our life can be a powerful source of inspiration and encouragement. For example, my deceased grandfather was particularly handy when it came to household tasks. Lacking this skill myself, I often ask for his inspiration when faced with a similar situation, “Grandpa, is it ‘righty tighty, lefty loosey’?” Christ’s Gospel promise that he should not lose anything of what his Father gives him ensures us that the familial and fraternal relationships that we forge in life continue beyond the grave.

IMG_1782This brings us to consider why we pray for our deceased. Flowing from their Jewish traditions, the early Christians gathered to worship in catacombs and places of burial as a visible sign of the connection they shared with those who had died. On All Souls day, the worldwide Church is encouraged to specifically pray for those who continue their journey towards their eternal reward. The Catechism says, “Our prayers for [our beloved departed] are capable not only of helping them, but also of making their intercession for us effective.” (CCC 958) This means that we can both pray for and pray to those who have gone before us. For them, life is changed not ended and so death does not sever our relationship with them. We can still make a difference in their lives, and when we do, they can make a difference in ours.

memorialwallHere at St. Dominic’s we have many ways to remember our beloved departed all year round, e.g., through offering a Mass or lighting candles. One of the unique features of our church is that we have a Columbarium, a prayerful resting place for deceased parishioners. Every day the earliest Mass is offered for the repose of their souls. During this month of November, there are particular ways to connect with those who have gone before us. In a special way, you are invited to fill out envelopes for your loved ones which will be placed on our altar and be remembered at all of our Masses this month. Also, I encourage you to visit the Holy Souls Altar and to inscribe the names of deceased loved ones in our Book of the Dead.

During this month of November, let’s resolve to pray for all the dead, and not just our family members and friends. If you are not sure what or how to pray for them, I suggest the traditional prayer:

“Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
And let the perpetual light shine upon them.
And may the souls of all the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

The Christian Origins of Halloween

I find myself shaking my head when I see people talk about Halloween being a pagan holiday.

I mean, think about it for just a few moments. Halloween.  Anglicized version of “All Hallows’ Eve.”  Evening of All Hallows.  Evening of All Holy Ones.  Evening of All Saints.

ALL SAINTS DAY IS NOVEMBER 1st.  fr_augustine_thompson03

Okay, I’ll be the first to say that I get a little more than annoyed.

Fr. Augustine Thompson, celebrated historian of the Western Dominican Province, wrote a short article about the Christian origins of Halloween.  Happy reading!

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Halloween & Football Scores

“Okay, Friar Tuck, this is perfect.  Don’t move.”


With the sister and nephew (credit: Joyful Pix)

This past weekend, I went to a Renaissance Faire with my family.  I went in full habit, the black cappa and my white habit.  I have been gunshy to write about this because there are some brothers who would look down at my going to a Ren Faire in my habit.  All of these people in Medieval Cosplay, dressed like they belong to The Game of Thrones, or The Tudors or Gladiator or Pirates of the Caribbean.  The habit is not a costume.  It is the clothing of Holy Father Dominic and ought to be respected with the utmost care.  The scapular is the symbol of the Mother of God, the capuce a symbol of our singular devotion to prayer.

I get it.  I really do.

(courtesy Joyful Pix)

(courtesy Joyful Pix)

Admittedly, one of the main reasons I did it was to see if I would be called out.  Will someone see the habit for what it is?  Will people see me as just another player…or as the real deal?

The Faire went as it went.  Indeed, we did see people dressed as pirates, knights, witches, all of the above.  I even had an overpriced glass of mead sold to me by a “Franciscan”.  I tried to talk about Holy Father Francis and Holy Father Dominic, using my really awful Irish accent…yeah, it didn’t work.  (There is a reason why I was Creative Writing, and not Theatre, when in undergrad.)

courtesy Joyful Pix

courtesy Joyful Pix

At the end of the day, the kids were tired and my brother-in-law was ready to go home.  My sister was off taking pictures.  (Here is the unnecessary plug  of her website.)  We waited outside the car, waiting for my sister to return with the car keys.  Being Saturday, I pulled out my phone and checked out the college football scores.

“West Virginia!  What in the world…?” I muttered to myself.  I looked at the Alabama game, looked forward to the Stanford game…

“Okay, Friar Tuck, this is perfect.  Don’t move.”  You could imagine what happened.  I heard my niece giggle. The voice said again, “A monk in checking out a cell phone and in sunglasses.  This is perfect.”


Not looking up at the person, I said, “You’re presuming that this is a costume, aren’t you?”  (I’m so mean.)

“Sunglasses and this…so funny.”  Click, click.

I finally looked up.  I saw a middle-aged woman, her Galaxy phone pointed at me.  Sunglasses.  Shorts.  The summer deal.

“What’s your name?” I asked, putting my phone away.  In my mind, I still wondered about the football scores. What happened to Baylor…? I asked.  I guess Alabama is….

She introduced herself.  I glanced at my brother-in-law…he did an okay job of hiding is smile.  “Oh okay,” I responded.  “Father Isaiah Mary, Order of Preachers, St Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco.”










“Uh, uh, uh,” she stammered.  She turned to my brother-in-law.  “He is serious?”

He responded, “Yup–he’s a priest.”  Then he started laughing.

“Uh-hunh,” I added.  “We still exist.  You should come to Mass at St. Dominic’s, near Japan Town.”

“Wow,” she responded, “I should go to Mass….”

“Not many parishes around where you have 3 priests under the age of 45,” I responded, smiling. “You should come.  St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco.  Like us on Facebook!”

“Um, yeah…I need to go to Church more.”

Right then, my sister showed up, boasting about her latest pictures, putting her camera back in her pouch. She looked at the lady, confused.  Looking at me, she asked, “Hey, wanna go?”

I turned toward the lady. “God bless you! Have a nice day!”


I’m not a nice person. I totally set her up.  Totally.

Halloween is coming up.  People have been contemplating their costumes and parties and haunted mansions for weeks.
divine officeEspecially when it comes to children, we become the costumes in which we inhabit.  A little girl dresses like Elsa from Frozen, and the next thing we know, she is stamping her foot and singing Let It Go.  The reason I love our habit so much is because it reminds me of who and what I am supposed to be.  Our exteriors inform our interiors.

The habit is not a costume.  It’s the habit.  It’s the thing I wear in order to become who God intended me to become.

May we wear Christ, then, and become the saints we are called to be.

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, October 26, 2014, Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATogether we’re Giant. World Series fever has hit the City. Following their recent success in 2010 and 2012, the San Francisco Giants are once again knocking on the door of a world championship and the excitement is palpable. The City is decked out in orange and black, Giants’ flags adorn civic structures, and even novices who don’t know a touchdown from a home run are vaguely aware of the local team’s success. Though the outcome is still in the balance (as of this writing) two aspects of the Giants’ memorable run from the lowest wild card to World Series contender emerge. First, though the Giants don’t have the highest payroll or the biggest stars when compared to some other clubs, their success is built on their cohesion as a team. A sign of this is their marketing strategy. Instead of building a brand exclusively around individual stars such as Posey, Pence and the Panda, the Giants emphasize the importance of team. Their slogan from 2012 was “Together We’re Giant.” This core concept identifies true success as a function of everyone executing their particular roles. From Ishikawa to Bumgarner, every fresh victory brings a new hero. The team is greater than just collection of stars.

downloadSecond, flowing from this on-field cohesion, the “Together We’re Giant” slogan invites fans to consider that their rooting interest and support makes a difference toward ultimate victory. The implication is clear: the enthusiasm of those who follow the team is an integral part of being a champion. It is not just that the team’s success creates excitement, but rather the excitement for the team itself is a significant ingredient in the team’s success.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus sums up the entirety of the 613 Mosaic laws when He points to love of God and neighbor as the heart of His message. This core idea forms the Gospel “slogan” of Jesus’ preaching. One aspect of the Two Great Commandments is that there is relationship between our love of God and our love of neighbor. For example, those who say they love God but harbor bitterness and resentments towards others are liars. (1 John 4:20). Or again, if we say that we love God and yet do not respond to the need around us, then Jesus will hold us responsible “Whatever you do to the least, you do it to me.” (Matt. 25:40) By making love the measure of faithfulness, Jesus gives us our mission: to be Christ to one another. When we put love into action, we are Christ for others.
Last week, we celebrated the feast of St. Theresa of Avila, the Spanish mystic and Doctor of the Church who reformed the Carmelites. The spiritual insights in her biography and writings are rich with reflection on the power of love in our lives. A popular poem attributed to her is a favorite of mine.

Teresa_of_ÁvilaChrist has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Win or lose, the Giants have brought buzz. For players and fans alike, there is a sense that we’re in it together. Today Christ invites us to consider how the way we love each other brings us together as a community of faith. We may not think of ourselves as “supersaints” or perform extraordinary miracles, but when our daily actions reflect the love of God to one another, Together We’re Jesus.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

The Annual Requiem Mass – Sunday, November 2, 2014, 11:30am Mass

Guest post by Simon C. Berry

Mozart Requiem:  Sunday, November 2, 2014, 11:30 am.

simonberryThe doubts and intrigues that surround the composition of Mozart’s Requiem have ensured lively debate and writings since the year of his death.  The situation is outlined in Peter Shaffer’s 1979 play, Amadeus, later made into a salacious film, starring Tom Hulce, in which a mysterious messenger orders Mozart to write a Requiem Mass, giving no explanation for the order; Mozart (in the play) then comes to believe that the piece is meant to be the requiem mass for his own funeral.

The Requiem is far from being alone in the genus of unfinished compositions, but it is perhaps the most famous.  This undoubtedly because of the magnificent quality of the original writing.   We do know as facts that count Franz von Walsegg commissioned the Requiem from Mozart anonymously, using intermediaries.  Also that following his untimely death, Mozart’s impoverished wife, Constanza, had the work ‘finished’ by Joseph von Eybler and Franz Xaver Süssmayr. so that she could collect the second payment on the commission.

Whatever the history, truthful or apocryphal, we are left with a work of genius and great beauty that will stir the hearts of the sternest to prayer.

Wolfgang-amadeus-mozart_1Come and pray with us on November 2nd at 11:30 am,  have your heart and soul stirred and pray for your beloved dead that they may reach eternity with the heavenly father.

St. Dominic’s Solemn Mass Choir and The Festival Orchestra directed by Simon Berry, perform Mozart’s engaging Requiem in the context of Solemn Mass.

Powerful music, heartfelt Dominican preaching and soaring gothic architecture combine to provide a divine prayer experience.

No charge.  Free parking.  2390 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.  www.stdominics.org (415)567-7824.

What is confession like for a priest?

A few weeks back, I got the following reflection on my Facebook feed.  Fr. Mike Schmitz is the director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of Duluth and the chaplain for Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota—Duluth.

photo 1He writes about his experiences in the confessional.  Do you remember people’s sins?  Is hearing confessions a burden?  What do you see when you hear confessions?

His responses are insightful and wise.  And I basically agree with all that he says.

We are blessed at St. Dominic’s of having has many hours of confession that we do.  But if we take a ratio of how many go to confession versus how many people actually attend Mass, the ratio is rather scary.  I wish the lines were longer, I really do.

Anyway, I invite you to read Fr. Mike’s reflection.  It’s short, it’s wise, and it’s worth pondering….

Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!

Our Pastor’s Corner, October 19, 2014, Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast Monday, I enjoyed the culmination of Fleet Week with a tour of the USS America. Freshly commissioned on Saturday, the boat was abuzz with folks viewing the inner workings and cutting-edge technology of the newest addition to the fleet. Three aspects of the tour were memorable and parallel the Scripture readings we hear this weekend.

First, because the ship is on active duty and was set to depart, members of the crew along with their family and friends mingled among the tourists. Chatting with one of the crew who welcomed us amidships, it became clear to me that she was there not because she had chosen the assignment, but rather, she was chosen for duty based on her training and expertise. Her knowledge of the hybrid electric-propulsion systems that power the boat made her a logical choice for the assignment. In Thessalonians, St. Paul reminds us that we have been chosen by God to live the faith we profess. “We give thanks to God always for all of you, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope, knowing how you were chosen.” We often imagine that our faith is simply a matter of our choosing and our faith journey is simply a matter of will. Yet, St. Paul makes it clear that, even before we choose to follow Christ, he has already called us. Like the young crew assigned to the USS America, our following Christ is a response to his initiative.

USS_America_CVA-66Second, as I entered the first deck, I was greeted by a large pictorial panel of officers who have charge of the ship. What struck me was the number of personnel who support the specific military functions. For example, there is a medical officer looking after the health of the crew, a chaplain who has care for souls, officers in charge of supplies, and various ancillary staff. At full compliment, the crew totals more than 3,000 officers, sailors and marines. The USS America is like a floating city. In the first reading, when God surprisingly chooses King Cyrus of Persia as a Messiah, he gives him the power to free the chosen people from the Babylonia Captivity. “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the LORD and there is no other, there is no God besides me.” In calling Cyrus “his anointed” or “his Christ,” God makes it clear that those whom He chooses are given the ability to carry out his will. Even though Cyrus is a pagan king without any knowledge of the God of Abraham, God initiates His plan through him. Here the old adage comes to mind, “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies those whom he calls.” Like the crew of the USS America, God has called each of us at St. Dominic’s to carry out a unique and vital mission to bring God’s love into the world. At home, at work, in the marketplace, there is no daily context too trivial where we cannot somehow share the love of God with others. You cannot be God’s love the same way I can, and reciprocally, I cannot share God’s love as you are able. It takes a community to bring God’s love to life.

US-Sailors-to-See-Improved-Opportunities-As-Force-Balance-ImprovesThird, I was interested to see how the crew interacted with each other. As I disembarked, a young sailor who boarded stopped to salute an officer. A tourist asked, “Why did you salute?” She said, “Because he is an officer,” pointing to the insignia on his shoulder. Whether they personally know each other or not, the insignia worn on their uniform reveals the rank and task of each individual. The insignia gives not only a sense of identity to the crew, but helps them to relate to one other for the good working of the entire boat. In the Gospel, Jesus gives the famous answer to those who ask whether or not one ought to pay tax. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Because Caesar’s image is on the coin of the realm, he has a claim on it. Similarly, because we are made in the image and likeness of God, Christ answers that God has a claim on our very lives. Every goodness in our life comes from God, and our task is to return that goodness through the way we live and treat others.

The USS America has launched its first mission to protect and serve. Here at St. Dominic’s, we launch a weekend of discernment of how we can give to God what is God’s: our minds and hearts. One practical way to give God your talents is to pick up our new ministry booklet published this weekend. In the booklet, you’ll discover a myriad of ways that you can help to make a difference in the life of the parish and community. The act of considering how we give to God what is God’s activates our faith and brings God’s love to life.

~ Fr. Michael Hurley, O.P.

Young Adults trip – Reflections about Yosemite, part 2

On September 19-21, the Young Adults had many, many members go to Yosemite.  Thank you, Kevin, for your reflection about your trip.


Flash back one year. I had been in the city for only two months and recently joined St. Dominic’s. I had heard whispers about an upcoming trip to some nearby nature: Yosemite. The word certainly conjures up some fantastic imagery and thoughts of scaling the world. Unfortunately, of all of the weekends in the year, I had to have a business trip back home to Phoenix. While there is certainly plenty of natural beauty scattered throughout my state, I wanted forests and massive mountains. And more importantly, to experience the wonders with this new community I was coming a part of. But alas, duty called and I filed the notion of Yosemite to the back of my mind.

img_4152With September rolling around once again I made sure to constantly ask when Yosemite tickets were going to be available and secured mine early. Our car arrived to the park late in the night after experiencing classic San Francisco traffic, some fantastic barbeque, and brilliant conversations. On the way, we pulled over to fully experience one of my favorite sights: the stars. Their beauty and sheer number constantly stun me to silence. It always blows my mind to realize that looking at stars is looking into the past. After a few minutes of ogling at the night sky, we continued on to camp where we met up with the rest of our merry group and chatted late into the night.

img_4118Upon waking up and stepping out of our cabin, I froze mid-step. Driving up at night hid the massive edifices of Yosemite from our sight, and now, on the Valley floor in broad daylight, they rose up around us like giants. I had never seen anything so breathtaking. But I knew there were even more stunning views to come. Our group offered three different hikes to choose from, all with fantastic views and amazing people. I chose to tackle the medium difficulty hike: Nevada Falls. I quickly learned that “medium” can be used quite loosely. I struggled up the side of cliff, my legs screaming when reaching for each additional step carved into the façade. My small group which had splintered off finally reached the top. Success! We were ready to head back down…not knowing that right around the corner was the rest of our group and a view unlike anything I had seen in my life. Yosemite is described as, “the thin veil between heaven and earth.” That description fit perfectly as I looked out at never-ending forests and mountains that put skyscrapers to shame. God’s hand could clearly be seen in this beauty and the community of young adults around me.

The three groups reconvened at basecamp and were all filled with wonder from their amazing experiences. We came together to say a rosary around a roaring campfire, a surreal experience to say the least. There have been few times when I felt so connected to those around me and to God as I stared into the flames, focusing on each word of every prayer. This sense of togetherness carried on when two guitars appeared and the group joined our voices in song. A thunderstorm scattered some of us, but most of the group remained, singing through the storm. Our last act as a group was Sunday morning mass at Our Lady of the Snows. The perfect way to end the weekend, we were able to come together one more time and share our joy and our thanks with other members of the community. As we drove away, I could only think of the view from the top of Nevada Falls and the sense of connection I felt with God, nature, and those around me. I truly cannot wait to experience this magical place once again.