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Jul 27, 2008

We are back from a long trip to Italy and Lourdes, France. The first thing I want to tell you is of the tragic death of Richard Rita. For those who are new to Cenacolo, he is the father of Rich and Christen. Rich has been in Community in Europe, and Christen was doing an experience over there. Richard died at a very young age of a
tragic accident in his own back yard. We are all very sad about this, and we are praying so much for all the family. We know that God in His mercy had Rich and Christen together to help and support each other. They flew home to be with Kathy, their mom. Several of our guys went down for the Resurrection Mass, representing all of us. If you would like to send Mass cards, the address is 14170 Keystone Blvd, Port Charlotte, FL 33981.

We went for our Festival of Life and special 25th anniversary of Comunita Cenacolo. What a wonderful tribute of joy and celebration! With us there were at least 50 American family members that participated in the Festival. Everyone really was touched a lot! There are not words to express what we lived on the hill of Saluzzo, between the songs, prayers, Adoration, catechesis, shows, skits by members of the Community, dances by the children from the mission and the consecrated, etc.

We had the privilege to have Bishop Baker with us. He really was amazed by what he saw, because the last time he was in Community in Saluzzo was 16 years ago. A lot of things have changed since then. Mother Elvira was radiant in her smile, her joy and determination, and in everything she did ! I have been to many Festivals, and every one of them was beautiful, but this one was the best of all. It was a revival of many things that happened throughout the last 25 years. It brought me to tears a lot, especially listening to songs that we were used to singing in my times in Community and hearing songs written by special friends who are now already in heaven. I can’t even begin to figure out what the highlight was!

One special moment was when all of us from America plus all the guys from Europe and Bishop Baker went on stage and sang a few songs for Mother Elvira. She was so surprised to see so many Americans there! Another special moment was the show done by the guys of Medjugorje. Many of our guys were in it. Rich was one of the main dancers, and he did a marvelous job. One of the most beautiful moments of all was the Saturday night Adoration that at the end included a wonderful dance. The theme of the Festival was from the scripture passage about the wedding of Cana, “Do whatever He tells you to do.” On stage there was a wonderful icon of the wedding of Cana, painted especially for our Festival by a teacher from Brazil. It was beautiful!

It was so good to see our American guys and girls there. For the most part, they seem doing very well, happy and full of life!

We had a very special English speaking day in Envie, a Community house close to Saluzzo. It was here that the families learned about Richard’s death. Everyone was very sad. All the American guys, girls, and families went to console Richard and Christen and to show them their love. The next day Rich and Christen were leaving very early to go back home in Florida. Please keep the family in your prayers at this very, very difficult and tragic time!

We left for Lourdes on Wednesday with a full bus. We had 30 families and then some of the guys and girls. We were also blessed to have Sister Jennifer and Sister Lucia and even a priest from Pompei, Father Salvatore. The Holy Spirit put this trip together. After a day-long ride, we really lived a pilgrimage—another one. Every day we had Mass. Then one day we did the Jubilee pilgrimage around Lourdes. We visited to the grotto. The next day we went to the baths. It took us all morning just to be in line, also because there were so many people. Then one day we did the Stations of the Cross. Every night we were going back to the Community there to have Mass and then dinner with the guys. On Saturday we spent the day in the girls’ houses. I think that for the families it was a wonderful surprise to spend time in Community and to see our beautiful houses in Lourdes. They are very hard to match for their beauty and location, overlooking the Pyrenees. The last two days were just gorgeous with sunny, clear skies and a beautiful view of the mountains. I think everybody really was deeply moved by the whole experience. Saluzzo alone was moving and then to follow it with Lourdes! I am waiting for feedback to post on our site. Many parents are already asking when the next pilgrimage with Cenacolo will be!

Just to give you an update on our guys. We took Brendan to Italy. He is in Casaleleggio with Lyle. David T went to Medjugorje. Jonathan L. came on pilgrimage to Lourdes and was transferred there. Blake C. transferred from Ireland to Borgaro. Andrew P. is now in Giustenice. John W. finished his 10 month experience in Community with the Festival of Life and Lourdes. What a great end to a Community experience! Everybody else is still in the same place where they were before.

In Florida it has been rough. We had a couple guys leave. Michael A. and then Joseph from KS left right after him. Please pray for them.

Now all our focus will shift to our Festival in October 24-26 and in building the dormitory at Mary Immaculate. We submitted the application for the building permit!


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