Tag Archives: ODU CCM

    EWC #178

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    Written by: Robert Yorks, Junior at Old Dominion University

    Over the weekend of March 20th to March 22nd, I had the pleasure of attending the Encounter with Christ Retreat #178. Reflecting on it now, I don’t think they could have named the retreat anything better because for me it was truly an encounter. When you look up the definition of the word “encounter,” it is described as an unexpected meeting (but an experience nonetheless). Leading up to EWC, I felt that the retreat had become overhyped and there was no way it could live up to the grand expectations I had developed for it. That’s when I had the most unexpected meeting of my life.

    When we finally arrived at Goshen, VA after about a four hour car ride through all sorts of weather, landscapes, and cows, I saw one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. There was a gorgeous mountain range with clouds wrapping around it making my first sights Grace Bible Camp one of the most photogenic things I had ever seen in my life. However, despite all of its beauty, none of it could really compare to the beauty of God’s love shown to all the participants on this retreat.

    11173601_826909157345443_514091510_nWhile on this retreat, I experienced talks that impacted me in ways I could have never imagined. Ranging from personal spiritual endeavors to serving the community, each talk had a profound effect that I had not expected. But it wasn’t just the talks that impacted me. Tt was the entire atmosphere of people who went. Whether it was in small groups or exploring “Narnia” with fellow participants, this atmosphere never changed. Throughout the entire weekend there was a feeling of kindness and genuine appreciation for one another from everyone who was on the retreat. This was something truly unexpected. Going in, I expected good talks, but heard some of most well-written and perfected talks I have ever heard. I expected to meet cool people, but I got to meet people that I cannot wait to see again. The whole weekend blindsided me, but it was in a phenomenal and profound way since I had not been expecting it at all.

    The theme for the entire weekend was “…like clay in the hands of the potter, so you are in my hand, O house of Israel,” (Jeremiah 18:6) and this was always applicable at EWC. While I experienced the unexpected in so many ways, I was always open to it because of advice from friends who had been on the retreat before. Allowing God to mold my weekend in whatever way He saw fit was what made this truly a spectacular event. Whether this was from a talk, praying Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration, or even from just hanging out with people, this retreat showed me how to let God in. Not only that, it showed me how to share God’s love with others.

    One quote that was brought up over and over again on this retreat was “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words,” by St. Francis of Assisi. Whether or not the leaders tried to this, they captured this idea perfectly. Words, while they helped, weren’t necessary because everyone’s actions reflected God’s love and created an environment and a family like no other. Encounter with Christ #178 was truly an amazing retreat that not only opened me up to God’s love, but now allows me to share it with others which is, quite honestly, an even better feeling.


    ODU ASB: Come Follow Me

    John Lilly No Comments
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    We had a rootin’, tootin’ good time in McKee, to say the least!

    If you had told me that this Alternative Spring Break trip would include a hospital visit, climbing inside a cave, killing a wasp nest, and incredible moments inspired by the Holy Spirit, I wouldn’t have believed you.

    We were going to McKee, KY, a small, rural town in Jackson County situated in the mountains about an hour from Lexington. Rebecca Koury, the Pastoral Associate at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, would be organizing the service projects for us. She hosts many groups like ours throughout the year.

    The trip started out early. We all arrived at the CCM house at 6:00am and departed a little before 7. We had nine students in total going, including Fr. Mike, Julie, and myself. The first leg of the trip saw us cruze down I-64 East and I-81 south. We stopped for lunch around 12:30, and then proceeded to drive deeper into Virginia. We passed UVA-Wise and then crossed the border into Kentucky!

    Fr. Mike was praying hard all week!

    However, as we started to drive on the windy country roads of Kentucky, one of our students, Thea, started to get sick and threw up. We stopped at a Rite-Aid to get her some medicine, which put us an hour behind the rest of the group. We waited for the medicine to take effect, and after about an hour we departed. However, instead of going north on route 80, we went south. This put us even further behind schedule, and we didn’t arrive to McKee until about 10pm. We spent around 15 hours in the car that day. The craziness only continued!

    The next day we spent time with the parishioners after Mass. After every Sunday Mass, they gather together for a potluck. Many of the families come together to share a meal and quality time with one another. Many of the students played kick-ball with the children, and later in the evening we gathered for our first talk. The evening ended with some discussion about what we hoped to get out of the trip spiritually.


    Freshman Margaret Rhodes doesn’t mess around with Uno.

    However, later that night on Sunday I also got sick. I spent most of the night tossing and turning, and eventually vomited as well. Another one down for the count!

    Monday was our first day on the job, and it included an array of activities. One group visited a family and fixed their wheelchair ramp. Another group visited one of the local schools nearby and spent time with the kids, while others paid a visit to an assisted living center in town.

    However, later that day, another student, Pat, (who was also in the car with Thea and myself), experienced the same symptoms that I had the previous night. He began to throw up profusely around 2am, and he quickly became dehydrated. We took him to the hospital as a precaution, and he also made a full recovery in 24 hours.

    Junior Thea Shaver gives a talk to fellow students.

    At this point in the trip, we had three people get sick in a matter of four days. I was worried that the sickness would demoralize the students, but it did far from that. They persevered in serving the community of McKee the rest of the week. Many of them gave great talks during our reflection time, including candidate Sean Mazary. They saw what it meant to serve the poor and to see Jesus in them. One of the residents we visited, Elmer & Ferry, lived near a cave that had an underground spring! Elmer had set up a chair and had a small pot from which he could draw water. On top of this, Elmer carved magnificent walking canes, chairs, and gun barrels using only his pocket knife. We had found our Kentucky version of Michelangelo in this small cave!

    Thea, who had gotten sick earlier in the week, had a neat reflection on the sickness that had befallen us. She said, “We came here expecting to serve others, but we ended up serving each other.” That summed up our trip in a nutshell. The maturity and leadership of the group amazed me, and I was thanking God the rest of the way home. Praise God for the many ways he worked in the hearts of these nine college students in McKee, KY!


    Norfolk Community: What Can I Do For You?

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    “What Can I Do For You?”


    New CCM Staff Members, John Lilly and Jimmy Noone, pose for a photo on ODU CCM’s Beach Retreat

    This has been the theme of community life in Norfolk, VA since Jimmy Noone and I moved down to Norfolk back in August. Sean Mazary and Michael Pantazis also moved into the house.

    Life in Norfolk has seen a bit of a transition the past few months. Jimmy comes in as the new Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at ODU since Andrew Waring’s departure to work for the Diocese of Richmond. I have been doing a Year of Volunteer Service as the Campus Ministry Intern at ODU. Overall, though, it has been great so far! The students are awesome and our new director, Julie LaBelle, has been doing a fantastic job in her new role. Fr. Mike is full of smiles, as always.


    New Director of Catholic Campus Ministry, Julie LaBelle, gives a talk on ODU CCM’s Beach Retreat.

    Michael and Sean are both currently students at ODU. Sean is a senior studying Business Management and Michael is a junior studying Marine Biology. They are both great to have in the house.

    Fr. Mike continues to be the tried and true chaplain at ODU. He continues to be a source of inspiration to the students. He is always available for Confession and there is daily Mass four times a week on campus. His joyful attitude is contagious on and off campus.

    There has been lots of laughs in the house thus far. Everyone brings their own flavor to community. There’s a good communal atmosphere, and honesty and communication are a big staple of the house. We all seek to live out a spirit of service for each other on a daily basis.

    Married Full Members Andrew Waring and Joe Clem are consistent presences at Tuesday meetings, which is a big boost to the community. Their example as married members serves as an inspiration and a steady presence to the community. They offer good advice to the younger members and are excellent role-models.

    There are usually four to five ODU students at meetings as well. This has also added a nice burst of energy to the community. We are trying to encourage as many of them to come on Tuesday nights (or occasionally Saturday mornings!) as possible.


    ODU CCM Chaplain Fr. Mike Kuhn poses with Pope Francis during the first week of classes.

    Fr. Jack Peterson, Jonathan Mundell, and Peter Clem paid us a recent visit this past Tuesday. Fr. Jack gave a wonderful talk on community life and how it’s so necessary for us as men to be accountable with one another. He gave examples from his own life, as well as the many experiences he has had living in community. Other members pitched in with their take as well, making for a great discussion.

    In short, things are great in Norfolk. God is definitely blessing the community as well as the ministry. There are great things in store for us down here, and if you’re ever in town  just hollar!


    Retreats, concerts, and more retreats in the 757

    John Lilly No Comments

    There have been many stirrings down in Norfolk as of late. Despite the growing size of the community, a good amount of activities have been going on the past few months.


    Andrew Waring hanging out with students on beach retreat

    The ODU CCM, headed by Fr. Mike Kuhn and Andrew Waring, saw a successful beach retreat at Sandbridge to kick-start the academic year. The theme of the retreat was “Watching & Waiting,” taken from Psalm 5. Candidates Sean Mazary and Brian Fila attended the retreat, along with roughly 30 other students from ODU.

    The weekly “Soul Food” gatherings have also resumed with the CCM house overflowing. The most recent edition featured a riveting talk from Ben Fleser on Faith & Art.

    This Halloween, CCM is collecting food for the needy with the theme “Trick or treat so kids can eat!” ODU Senior Joe Budi also moved into the Youth Apostle house and has been a fabulous cook and worker!


    YM Extraordinaire, Ben Flesser

    Blessed Sacrament’s Youth Ministry Program has been steadily growing. Thanks to the efforts of Ben Fleser, the last 12 months have seen a consistent increase in volunteers and youth. Ben has worked hard to develop the youth programs and has rounded up a strong group of dedicated volunteers, along with growing numbers of both middle and high schoolers. Next weekend, November 8th to November 10th, Ben will be leading a group of high schoolers from the parish on a retreat. Please pray for him!





    CNU also had its student retreat at Sandbridge this year. Additionally, They hosted a faith-filled concert from Audrey Assad with over 320 attendees on September 27.


    John Hopke introduces Audrey Assad at a concert at CNU

    They are enjoying the use of the new university chapel. Every month, Fr. John David (pastor at Our Lady of Mount Carmel) comes for adoration and confession with the students.

    They have also started a new strategic planning for long term growth at CNU’s CCM.

    Furthermore, OLMC is carrying over the boys group, called “Brother’s that Worship,” or “BTW.” They are starting a yearlong reflection of the “The Bible,” the shortened movie version.


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