Archive for March, 2006

Without Reservation

March 28, 2006

I have been thinking of starting an occasional series of entitled Without Reservation. Basically I have come across a lot of good things in my life and I would like to pass on my reviews to you.

The first one would be a cause for you to consider. That is helping disadvantaged youth get a chance to experience a Steubenville conference.

The Steubenville Youth conferences have a powerful effect on a lot of youth. I have witnessed it countless times in my history with them and it is one of the reasons I push/sell/suggest/recommend them as much as I do to my youth.

I was introduced to them by my friend Mario Dance. He is a Vetrinarian who loves sharing the Gospel with others but in a special way youth. In fact I would say he works his job as a vet in order to support his youth ministry. I met him through one of his youth who came to Texas A&M and became one of my best friends. He has had a powerful effect on a lot of youth and he introduced me to the conferences.

Until recently he worked in a fairly affluent parish in Virginia where the youth could easily afford such things. Since then he has moved to working with two parishes that are mostly minority and not affluent.

I was telling him how I was promoting the Stuebenville conference and asking him which one he was going to this year. He said he was unsure if he would be able to take any youth due to their financial challenges. I needled him a bit that they could really afford it and he felt that it truly was a barrier and he couldn’t afford to take pay for them all himself. So I told him to write up something and I would post it to my blog because people had been very generous in helping me get a monstrance for Children’s Adoration.

So I am presenting the cause to my readers because I know some would be interested in helping. I know some people have contacted me and asked for suggestions for tithing because they didn’t feel it would be well used in their parish. I told them of course that we have an obligation to support our local parish but what my diocese recommends is 1% to the Diocese; 4% to the local parish; and 5% to other charities. That being said maybe some of you would like to consider this cause as part of your other charities portion.

What I can tell you is that Mario is a good steward and won’t just give handouts to kids but make them work for the opportunity to go. I also told him that money came from my readers then I would expect the youth to let me post a testimony or a thank you and he said he would expect the same.

So it is without reservation that I recommend this cause to you because I know the power of the Steubenville conferences and the ability of Mario to follow up on that impact with great catechesis and ministry to the youth. In business terms your dollar would go a very long way.

So with that I am going to leave you with his info he gave me including and address for the donation. Because the checks are made out to the Church itself your donations would of course be tax deductible. No donation is too small because every dollar puts the youth that much closer to a potentially life changing experience. If you need a receipt from them simply put that request with the check. And now I hand it off to Mario:

Fr Todd, Here is the little blurb that you can use for your web page for my youth and their trip to Steubenville

First I want to thank you Fr Todd for allowing me to post this request on your web space, it means a lot that you would be willing to help the young people that I serve. For those who feel led to help, I thank you in advance. Those who are not able to help, I ask that you pray for me and my young people. My name is Mario Dance, I am a long time friend of Fr Todd’s and I also happen to be the vol youth minister at two very small parishes in Richmond VA. One parish (Holy Rosary) is in the heart of a very poor section of the city and the other (St. John’s) is about 10 mins from Holy Rosary in a blue collar section of the city. Combined the parishes are a beautiful (and just about equal) mixture of Hispanic, Anglo and African American families. Both parishes have never had anyone committed to building it’s youth ministry program and because they both struggle financially, the resources available to do so are very limited. If anyone has ever worked in youth ministry you will know instantly how important youth retreats and conventions are in the conversion and evangelization of young people. We struggle greatly to make the local retreats available for our young people and the need to subsidize these experiences tends to deplete our budget. With this in mind I make an appeal to anyone reading this who feels inclined to help me to send my young people on a Steubenville Summer Conference weekend in Atlanta GA. In my previous parish these conventions were very powerful opportunities for conversion and I’d like to try and get some of my teens to one this summer. We hope to take 8 teens (4 per parish) and the cost to send one youth is $125 plus the cost of travel and lodging. (Potentially adding $75 more per child). If any of you would be interested in trying to help me to send 8 of my young people on the trip I would be greatly appreciated. To help you would need to send the check to Attn: Mario Dance c/o St. John Catholic Church, 813 West Nine Mile Road, Highland Springs, VA 23075-1124. Make Checks payable to St John’s Church (donations are tax deductible). In all humility I am begging on behalf of the young people that I love so dearly. Thanks for considering this request. JMJ Mario

Mario E. Dance…in the humble service of the King 🙂 Soli Deo Gloria!

April 15 and Fair Tax

March 24, 2006

Tax time every year consumers too much of my time. I wish I could afford to give it all away so I don’t have to deal with it. That day hasn’t arrived but it is approaching.

The good news is I have a lot of deductions. The bad news is I need to organize them all and get my receipts in order.

Far too much time and money is wasted on this process ever year. It is one of the big reasons I support the Fair Tax Bill. If you would like to hear more about it check it out at

Better yet check out the book The Fair Tax Book by Neal Boortz. You can find it at your local library or pick up a copy at the bookstore.

Then if you think it is a good system please call your reps and ask them to support the FairTax legislation, HR 25.

Back to the paperwork.

St. Patrick’s day and the indult

March 17, 2006

Happy St. Patrick’s day. It was two years ago today that I was in New York for the festivities myself. I fondly remember those times and am hopeful to return to New York some time soon. I stayed in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Rectory which was quite a treat and got to vist a friend/mentor of mine by the name of Msgr. James Cassidy. He really is quite a priest.

I have been watching with some amusement the number of indults granted to avoid the Lenten Fast for today’s commemoration (that is how it is listed in the Liturgy of the Hours). Short of being your patronal feast day I can’t imagine why a Catholic would have to eat corned beef and cabbage on this day and be angry if they still had to observe the fast. It is a plate of food. It is astounding to me how we tend to worship our culture.

Now I am a big fan of culture and see it as a good thing. I grew up in a place with very strong cultural identities. But Ethnic Heritage seems to have become a new altar many people choose to worship at. I’m this… or I’m that… I have even been told by someone “Fr. were German so as long as you do what we want everything will be fine.” That was the first thing that person had ever said to me.

We all have our different “cultures” we belong to: ethnic, national, state, university etc… It would seem to me the most important culture should be our religious culture, and Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent.

Carl Olson speaks

March 11, 2006

We just finished up having Carl Olson give his talk “The DaVinci Hoax” at the parish. He did a good job and I think people learned a lot. I also snagged some copies of his books for our local library.

An email from a friend

March 2, 2006


Here’s a little event that made my month… a nice little reflection if you don’t mind some symbolism:

After the 7 PM Ash Wednesday Mass, I announced that I’d be moving in to the new rectory and sleeping in there for the first time as of last night (night of Ash Wednesday). Around 30 adults and children helped me pack out of the condo (the converted tool shed I’ve been living in the last few years), and into the mansion (the new 3 bedroom house which finally went up two months ago).

By 10 PM we were finished. At 9:30 PM, Ken Karabanoff called me from INSIDE the Westbound train and asked if he could stop on the tracks by St. Michael’s in order to receive Ashes. He said he would be honking the train horn from farther away than usual, since he has to start slowing down miles and miles in advance. It was the first time I was happy to hear that obnoxious train horn, since it always blows only 60 yards from the condo and shakes everything around! The train pulled up and stopped about 30 yards from the Church, and Kenneth jumped out of the train, with another conductor. They pulled off their caps and asked for the ashes.

We then prayed an Our Father, and then they jumped back in the train, headed West. Sometimes I look for too much symbolism in things, but this is what crossed my mind: The first day of Lent… night time (symbol of darkness and the desert, St. Theresa’s Dark Night), a West Bound train (meditation on the East focuses on the Resurrection, meditation on the West focuses on the suffering, Passion and Death. A good theme for Lent.).

And the train…. well, that’s just cool.