Tag Archives: GMU CCM

    There and Back Again: A Pilgrim’s Journey

    John Lilly No Comments

    11295935_10102249578523557_1553625835532469684_nTwo weeks ago, I got the wonderful opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land with Fr. Peter and Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason. It was a truly incredible experience. I literally walked in the footsteps of Jesus. There were many highlights throughout the trip, but I’ll do my best to share the most impactful!

    Primacy of Peter | Bible Verse – Jn 21: 15-23

    11407135_10152943953343170_2950972752037547926_nOne of the places we stopped was the Primacy of Peter. This was right off the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Our guide, Hussam, gave us a quick overview of the spot where Jesus cooked breakfast for the disciples and where Jesus redeemed Peter’s three-fold denial. There is a church built around the rock right off the shore (see picture). It is a strongly held tradition that it was there that Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. Personally, I had a great reflection on this passage. Using some good old Ignatian Meditation, I put myself in Peter’s shoes. I imagined what it would have been like to be on the shore with Jesus. The cool breeze against your face, the calmness of the sea as you talked with Jesus. As I talked with Jesus on the shore, I truly felt him asking me to love him better by tending and feeding his sheep. Who are these sheep? They’re my friends, family, and brothers in community. I felt incredible peace talking with the Lord on that shore, just as Peter did.

    Mary’s House | Bible Verse – Lk 1: 26-38

    11377221_10155532301645125_2902668859358723883_nOne of the other memorable places we visited on our pilgrimage was the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth (which contains Mary’s house beneath it). We had Mass right in front of Mary’s House, where right in this very spot the Word became Flesh! It was so neat to be in such an awesome, yet simple place. Hussam told us that before the New Testament, Nazareth had never been mentioned. It was probably a shock for most Jews to hear that the Messiah was born in Nazareth. God was definitely trying to prove a point, though. Mary’s House, as the picture shows, is really more like a cave. It’s has only the basics, and is incredibly simple. Here, in this backwater town of Nazareth, God came to us. He was definitely trying to make a point. We had a Holy Hour one evening with the Franciscans at Mary’s House. It really struck me how God wants us to focus not on the external but on the internal. Mary’s house wouldn’t have gotten a second look today or back in her time. That didn’t matter, though. Her heart was in the right place, and she was concerned with loving God and her neighbor. That mattered more to her than house! As a Youth Apostle dedicated to imitating Mary’s radical yes, it was also extra special to be at this spot. We pray for her intercession daily in our lives and in our ministries

    St. Peter in Gallicantu | Bible Verse – Jn 18: 15-27

    11422843_10153420464352112_1960942407_oGallicantu simply means “the cock crows.” It’s at this spot where Peter denied Jesus three times. It was awesome to be in the spot where Peter denied Jesus and where Jesus redeemed Peter’s denial! Fr. Peter celebrated Mass here for us, and afterwards we were able to go down beneath the church. This was where prisoners would have been kept (the church is built over top of Caiaphas’s house). Hussam told us about the two different prisons: one for common criminals and one for extreme political revolutionaries. Jesus fell into the second category since the Pharisees believed he was trying to overthrow them. It was here that Jesus would have stayed the night before he went to Calvary on Good Friday. As you walk into the dungeon, you can see the imprint of a figure on the wall (see picture). The picture is edited so you can make out the figure on the wall. It was difficult to make out at first, but after spending some time the figure of Christ became clear. When I finally made out the image of Jesus on the wall, my heart jumped. I had seen the Lord!  That must have been the feeling the disciples had after they had seen Jesus when he rose. “It was him, he’s alive!” It was a joy-filled moment, and it was truly humbling to know that I stood in the spot Jesus did the night before he offered himself up for us.

    It’s not 100% certain that this imprint is of Jesus, but from the evidence found it’s likely that he was here. Above the imprint is a large hole where Jesus would have most likely been hung by chains. To light the dark cell, an oil lamp was used. However, it was also used as a torture device. Oil from the lamp would drip onto the prisoner, causing immense pain. This oil is what left an imprint on the wall, and allows us to see Jesus’s position.

    There were many other highlights throughout the trip, and I could write about it for days. Hopefully, though, this gives you a glimpse into the trip and inspires you to go one day! I highly recommend it. The Lord will work wonders!

    There’s A Fire Blazing At The Chapel!

    John Lilly No Comments

    Over the past few weeks at George Mason Catholic Campus Ministry, there has been a certain buzz around 4515 Roberts Rd.


    Fr. Peter Nassetta & Oscar the Pig

    The year kicked off with the annual Luau at the chapel. Students began arriving promptly at 5:30pm, and never stopped coming. The smell of Oscar the pig spread across campus, luring students out of their dorms. CCM Student Leaders also aided in promoting the Luau on campus. A few brave souls elected to wear a pig costume around campus to spread the word about this giantly awesome party. Others took to chalking the sidewalks across campus, which helped direct students to the chapel. And yet others handed out fliers and manned kiosk desks to inform students about upcoming events.

    Aided by the Holy Spirit, the chapel was blessed to receive over 1500 students on Friday, August 23rd. Along with plenty of food provided by Oscar himself, students met new friends, played cornhole, listened to a live band play, and roasted marshmallows toward the end of the night.

    A few weeks later, freshman escaped the drudgery of Fairfax, VA and ventured out to the breezy dunes of Virginia Beach. This was the Freshman Beach Retreat that CCM puts on every year. The retreat consisted of talks by both students and staff members. Saturday night adoration and confessions were heard.


    CCM 2013 Freshman Beach Retreat


    The theme of the retreat was “Abundant Life in Christ.” As the students spent time in small groups, listening to talks, and in prayer they came to experience the rich, awesome life Christ had in store for them on campus. As the weekend progressed, these 60 new freshman began to foster growing relationships with each other, with the older student leaders, and with Christ Himself.

    They returned to campus that Sunday, September 22, energized and refreshed. Christ had put a burning flame of love on their hearts, and many of these new students began attending daily Mass and weekly bible studies afterwards as a result.

    Two weeks later, the not so fresh upperclassmen went on retreat as well. They journeyed to the mountains of Priestfield, West Virginia for a weekend away from the world.


    The them of the retreat was “Unlocking the Spiritual Riches of the Church.” Like the freshman beach retreat, talks were given by both the staff and by students. One of the talks focused on St. Therese of the Child Jesus and her Little Way. Other talks dove into the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the charismatic movement in the Church.

    Saturday night confessions were heard by six priests from around the Diocese of Arlington. A majority of the over 70 students on the retreat went to confession. Adoration, which consisted of silent prayer time, a penance service, and songs of praise went on during this time as well. Students also had ample time for silent reflection, small group discussion, and the ability to bond with each other during free time.

    Furthermore, daily Mass attendance has spiked as well because of these retreats. Monday, Tuesday, and Friday Mass is held on campus in the HUB. Roughly 50 chairs are set out, but frequently over the past month there have been 5-10 students sitting on the floor!

    God continues to work powerfully in the hearts and minds of the students at George Mason. Fr. Peter commented last week that the fire in the hearts of the students is like fire: it catches the more it is spread. It’s attractive to others and Christ’s love is able to spread the more the fire catches. Let’s pray this keeps up!


    The Gift of a Child

    John Lilly No Comments


    Alternative Spring Break with Catholic Campus Ministry at George Mason couldn’t have been a more grace-filled and wicked awesome week. From March 10 to March 17 I had the exciting and wonderful opportunity to serve the children of the Hogar San Francisco de Asis (St. Francis of Assisi Home) in Chaclacayo, Peru. The Hogar serve kids of all ages, from week-old babies to adults.


    Chaclacayo is about an hour and a half east of Lima

    They give assistance to the kids by giving them three square meals a day, sending them to school, and most importantly giving them treatment for their various illnesses. Kids are sent to the Hogar by their parents who cannot afford to give them medical treatment or buy them medicine. All of these services are free for the parents and their kids, and once the kids are back to full health they return to their families. The most common types of illnesses are cerebral palsy, chronic diarrhea, malnutrition, tuberculosis and chronic respiratory diseases.


    Peru Group!
    Top row: Olivia, Teresa, Isabelle, Kathryn, Mrika
    Middle row: Danielle, Christina, Regina, Jessica
    Bottom: Andy, Aldo, Matt, Craig, John, Martin

     Along with 12 other students from Mason, I had the privilege of helping the many children at the Hogar with their daily activities. A few of the tasks we helped them with included playing soccer, taking them to the park, helping them with their homework, or assisting them with their meals. One kid in particular, Bryan, stands out vividly in my memory.

     Bryan is nine-years-old and suffers from cerebral palsy, which limits him from having full muscular control of his legs. The week before we arrived at the Hogar  he had undergone surgery to fix the problem. Anchored into this legs were metal braces to help his muscles and bones grow properly. This meant that he was confined to a couch for the next several weeks.


    Towards the end of the week one of the students on the trip, Aldo, was visited by his grandmother and aunt. His family is originally from Peru, so they were estatic when they heard he would be just outside of Lima. When they came to the Hogar they brought goodie bags filled with candy and other sweets for the kids. They were also kind enough to bring us some as well! As Aldo passed out the goodie bags, I grabbed one to give it to Bryan. I gave Bryan his goodie bag and proceeded to sit down and take a break from the work we had been doing that morning. As he opened his bag he said to me, “Amigo, aquí!” (Here, friend!) and offered me some of his candy. “¿Para mí?” I said (For me?). He nodded his head.


    Matt and Bryan

    I was floored by his generosity. He rarely, if ever, received treats and he had every right to keep them for himself. He didn’t have to share them with me. But he still shared what little he had. His generous gift of his possessions reminded me of the poor widow in the Gospel of Mark. She only gave a few cents in the temple offering, but Jesus found her sacrifice more pleasing than the rich people who gave from their excess (Mark 12: 41-44). She gave all that she had to God. In the same way, Bryan gave what little he had to me. It must have been agonizing for him to sit and watch his amigos play all day and not be able to join them. Despite being restricted to the couch all day, he never complained once. Even in his suffering he was focused externally. He was more concerned with the well-being of others than with himself. It was in this humble, simple moment in Peru that I saw Christ’s teaching of gift of self in action. Bryan allowed me to see what it means to be rich in the love of Christ. He exemplified what it means to be truly generous.

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