32 Things (That Make Me Happy)

1. The super cool bloggers who are out there, like Erin at Two Thirds Hazel who inspired me to do this list!

2. The opportunity to attend college and get myself an education…even though being swamped with homework has been a drag lately.

3. Coffee to get me through studying and, in particular, production nights. Yesterday I was living the 3 a.m. lyfe at the Torch. 

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4. The opportunity to help lead a wonderful, wonderful team of journalists. Turns out, I really really love being an editor.

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5. A journalist dad to send me emails full of great advice and listen to me freak out about ad ratios and InDesign.

6. The ability to go home and see the fam bam last weekend.

7. The first ice cream of the season.

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8. This girl, who is all grown up and is so dedicated to social justice issues. This is her giving a speech about the Syrian civil war at 4h regionals:

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9. Father James Martin (if you don’t follow him on Facebook and Instagram, you should start), who is such a great representation of the faith and a journalist to boot!

Father Martin, SJ, speaks at SJU.

Father Martin, SJ, speaks at SJU.

10. The kind of people who planned Operation Drunken Nutella Unicorn, which was a secret plan wherein the Boyfriend surprised me for my birthday.

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11. A boyfriend who surprised me despite knowing I had a busy weekend and spent Saturday replenishing my cupboards, doing laundry, washing dishes and cooking dinner.

12. …and then on Sunday we went out for the most excellent Greek food in Bayside and visited Martha’s Bakery, which is THE CUTEST.

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A priest friend took a few of us out last semester to these two places and it was such a good time that another girl and I both ended up using the same itinerary for date ideas this semester, proving that we are the least original people ever…or that Father J has great taste.

13. Friends who buy you birthday drinks…

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14. …of all sorts:

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15. A retreat this weekend. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go, because it is a big time commitment and homework is a problem this semester, but I’m very excited to have this experience with some of the best people I know.

16. Holy Hour tonight. I need it.

17. This pretty princess! She is finally starting to grow up and/or respond to training and is just the biggest cutest most hyper little cuddle buddy there ever was.

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18. That this summer I’ve caught that rarest of unicorns: the print journalism internship that will allow me to quit the Taco Palace for good.

19. The EasyPay MetroCard. Seriously, if you don’t have one, get one now. It’s a MetroCard that connects to your debit card, so that you never have to stand in line at the annoying kiosks or worry about if you have a swipe left!

20. Naps. God’s gift to man.

21. Not having any assignments due tomorrow.

22. Fred the Wonder Cat.

23. The Zero to Hero 2.0 blogging challenge that will be starting next week.

24. That my parents gave me an easy-to-spell name, even if it is kind of long.

25. A job where I can do my homework in downtime. Notice a theme of homework developing?

26. The weather, which has finally reached the point that it’s not bitingly cold outside.

27. Memories of Sorrento, where I was last year this time.

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28. The fact that there’s only 34 days left in this semester!!!!!!

29. Summer TV. I love summer programming for a few reasons. First, I have more time to watch it, and what’s a better guilty pleasure than bingewatching something utterly mindless? Secondly, the shows are just too fantastic to believe. Recent favorites include Bridalplasty, Love in the Wild, that one where they create their own restaurant and people get voted off, and of course the Bachelorette.

30. A home in New York City, a media mecca (which ironically helped me discover that I don’t actually want to work here for the rest of my life) and the greatest city on earth. I am making a bucket list for senior year, so stay tuned.

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31. A home in Pennsylvania. On my train ride up the Hudson the other day I seriously wondered if I would ever find a more beautiful place to live than the Delaware Water Gap/Hudson Valley area.

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32. The idea of exploring new places. Next on the list: Livin’ Local in Western New York.

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Liv Local: Denver (part one)

So IF you are visiting Denver (and you happen to be accompanied by a campus minister, and you have a fairly limited amount of time and money) definitely follow some of my suggestions. Stay tuned for other posts in this particular series!

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Visit the Molly Brown House

Molly Brown is, let’s be real, a historical badass. Also, Catholic. 

She married a guy after meeting him at a picnic (I love picnics) and a few years later he was a kajillionaire. They had kids and lived in this house and so on and so forth, but she’s most famous for surviving the Titanic. 

Legend has it that she was bossing the crew around because (clearly) they were not doing their jobs efficiently, so they picked her up and forced her into a lifeboat to get rid of her, which ironically meant that she was alive bossing people around for a whole lot longer than she would’ve been otherwise. 

Being an outspoken lady gets good things done, my friends.

She was also very philanthropic and had quite the collection of curios.

I actually really enjoyed this tour, because I love interpretation and I was also once employed at a Historic Mansion. Worth a visit!

Cost: about $8

Location: very convenient to downtown/central Denver!

Spring Break Service

There is no act of charity that is not (1)

So. Spring break. It was crazy! I learned a lot and I’m so glad I went. I have a lot of more personal observations I want to share, but in the meantime here’s an article I wrote that was originally published in the Torch, our student newspaper. 

St. Vincent de Paul, founder of the Congregation of the Mission and one of the patrons of St. John’s, said, “The poor have much to teach you. You have much to learn from them.”

As I embarked on the Denver Plunge over spring break last week, I had no idea how much I would learn as I worked with a team of two leaders and nine other students to serve Denver’s urban community.

Community service is not a new experience to me, nor is it new to any of my fellow St. John’s students: if nothing else, we are all required to do academic service-learning in some of our classes. However, I find it striking that every service opportunity throughout my St. John’s career has also been an opportunity to learn something new.

As we gathered at St. Thomas More Church to begin our journey to Denver, I began to learn the value of patience. Eager to take off, we were all gathered by 12:30. However, there was an issue with the airline and, after an unbearably long day of waiting to learn what the outcome would be, we learned that we would not be able to travel until the next morning.

Fortunately, I was able to use that patience in abundance on Monday and Tuesday, as I volunteered with a kindergarten class at Annunciation School, a Catholic school that serves low-income children, mostly from Denver’s Hispanic and South Sudanese populations. Children are a very rewarding group to work with, and it was a great encouragement to see them gain confidence with just a few minutes of individual attention.

On Wednesday, the same pure joy found in the children shone through the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of women who run nursing homes for the indigenous elderly. Another lesson I learned here was how to polish stainless steel: although we assumed that we would be playing bingo or socializing with the residents, instead we scrubbed the kitchen quite literally from top to bottom.

The Laradon Home, a center that provides services to developmentally disabled adults and children, taught me the power of a strong voice. Laradon was founded in 1948, when Elizabeth Calabrese decided that there needed to be an alternative to the institutions that were then the only thing available to the developmentally disabled, including her sons Larry and Don. Calabrese and her husband Joe gathered their life’s savings and began Laradon. This day of work was the most difficult for me, because there seemed to be nothing for us to do, but it was an excellent opportunity to see the volunteers put love into action as they helped each patient.

That night we had the opportunity to eat dinner at SAME Café, where staff cook lunch with organic and local ingredients every day. Patrons have the option of donating whatever they can to defray the cost of their meal or to volunteer to work in exchange for food. According to Sarah, the café’s first full-time employee, about seven people form a crew of regulars, joined daily by others. She also said that many of the café’s visitors say that the meal they eat at SAME will be their only food that day.

On our last day in Denver, we volunteered at the Food Bank of the Rockies, a gigantic facility that processes food from the TEFAP governmental assistance program and distributes it to smaller food pantries throughout the area. Here, we loaded pallets with cases of food that would be sent to various agencies, including some that we worked at earlier in the week. It was interesting to see the extent of need in the Denver area as we worked in the warehouse, and touching to put names to the faces that packaged the food that some of us then distributed to clients.

During our time in Denver, we worked with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers, a group of young adults who devote a year to full-time service work. The various service sites that we visited were places that the volunteers work full-time. It was inspirational to see the work that these young men and women do with those experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Campus Ministry offers plunges to a variety of destinations, including Panama, Lourdes, France, New Salem, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia. Other extended service experiences are also available through Student Affairs. I encourage every student to make the most of the Vincentian aspect of our university by serving others during this time in college, whether for a few hours or a few days.

St. Vincent was right: we have much to learn. 

I WANT WANT WANT to do a service year after graduation; I just have to figure out how to make it work.

Until next time, lovely readers!

One Year With Papa Francesco

One year ago on a rainy night in Rome, Jorge  Mario Bergoglio was elected to lead the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics as pope on the fifth ballot of the conclave.

In his first address to the crowds outside St. Peter’s Basilica, Bergoglio, who took the name Francis, asked Christians around the world to pray with him for his reign as pontiff and for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He then led the 100,000 observers packed into the square in reciting the Our Father, Glory Be and Hail Mary.

This humble tone has continued through the whirlwind first year of his papacy. In fact, the motto Francis chose is “miserando atque eligendo”: lowly, yet chosen, according to the Vatican website.

(Read more at the Torch)

I cannot believe that it’s been a whole year since my overly excited #popefangirl self stood outside for nine hours in the rain hoping that the cardinals would elect a pontiff.

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I prepared extensively and learned so much about the ways of the Church in the days leading up to the conclave.

I stood through the first ballot, and sighed when black smoke poured out of that tiny chimney. 

I gasped and cheered when the next smoke was white (and ahead of schedule!) and grabbed my friends by the hand and ran to the center of the square, underneath the loggia, to await the revelation of the newest successor of Peter. Reading my first post after the conclave almost made me cry today, people.

I was so excited about Francis from the start, and he has not disappointed me.

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It is sadly midterms week (coming off a week of service during which I didn’t have a computer and hardly any internet), so I don’t have too much time to be posting. 

I do have a new theme, which I’m really excited about, but I need the time to customize it (and make the text not so gray). 

Coming up I hope to write about more Pope things/the feast of St. Joseph, my week in Denver with the Vincentians, Lent, and how to navigate the stations of the cross in Rome. 

The Torch: Student Stars in Seventeen

      In middle school, 12-year-old Chloe Coriolan began begging her parents to take her to Seventeen magazine casting calls.

Her mother and father always refused, but Coriolan never gave up on her childhood dream, and seven years later the bubbly sophomore has just earned her fourth appearance in Seventeen.

Read more here at the Torch website!

SJU has some really amazing students, and I love getting to talk to them, especially in my capacity at the Torch.

You can also check out Chloe’s YouTube here, if you’re interested in learning more.

The Pope Flew Away…a year ago

One year ago today, Pope Benedict XVI left the chair of Peter.

One year ago today, Allie and I hurried out of theology class and rushed Angie and Elise along, heading down Via Cola di Rienzo towards St. Peter’s Square, a route we knew by heart by that point. We waved goodbye and took photographs and, feeling lost, turned away from a big basilica voluntarily without a bishop for the first time in centuries to eat paninis in a little restaurant on Via Ottaviano.

Since the announcement of the pope’s intention to resign a few weeks before (and Jenny sums up what it felt like so very well over here), we knew things would change.

I’m not sure we knew how much, both for us and for the world.

In any case, below is my post from a year ago. (If you’re interested in reading more about this, just put “pope” in that search box in my sidebar and you’ll get dozens of results.)

###Allie was very emotionally distraught

Allie was very emotionally distraught
People crowded the square
People crowded the square
The sunset over St. Peter's
The sunset over St. Peter’s
The usual flags were joined by a giant cross
The usual flags were joined by a giant cross
A second helicopter followed the first so we could see the entire journey from takeoff to landing
A second helicopter followed the first so we could see the entire journey from takeoff to landing

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Their banner said "Grazie"
Their banner said “Grazie”
This was a major plot point in Angels and Demons, if I remember correctly
This was a major plot point in Angels and Demons, if I remember correctly
These two watched intently in perfect silence
These two watched intently in perfect silence
Ciao Papa
Ciao Papa
We watched on the giant televisions as he lifted off and circled Rome
We watched on the giant televisions as he lifted off and circled Rome
The crowd
The crowd

A Week with the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers

The Colorado Vincentian Volunteers are a group of young adults who do full-time service in Denver for a year or more.

There is no act of charity that is not

For spring break, I (along with a campus minister, a GA and nine other students) will be spending a week with them, doing various types of service work and exploring the mission of good old St. V. de P.

I am super excited about this opportunity because the Boyfriend and I would love to take advantage of a service year like the CVV does after he graduates. We’ll get a chance to experience many different service sites. My main one will be a school.

I’m also very excited to sit down with the owners of SAME Cafe, a restaurant that serves a different menu of organic/local food each day. Everyone is encouraged to enjoy a meal, and you can choose to make a donation or to volunteer in exchange for the food. Pretty cool idea, right?

We are staying in a church basement, so I will be out of touch for the next week. I may or may not get some posts scheduled ahead of time. Have a great spring break readers!

Top Five Faith Favorites #alliteration

It’s Sunday, so that makes this appropriate!

Here’s what I’m digging about theology this week:

The divine praises (adoration is like the best, y’all):

(This video is pretty long. The Divine Praises start about 3:39. While you’re watching the first part, here’s some non-Catholic thoughts:

  • Tantum Ergo Sacramentum (the first part) is worth a listen. At SJU we sing it in Latin, which I am a huge fan of. 
  • I have always loved the old wisdom and beauty of the catholic church; isn’t it just a little bit cool to think you’re singing the words that have been chanted since at least St. Thomas Aquinas?
  • Why does the priest have to wear a scarf to hold the monstrance? I have actually asked priests this and I still do not understand.)

That there’s a feast called the Chair of Peter.

Excerpt of an email from Franciscan Media (click for link)

Excerpt of an email from Franciscan Media (click for link)

You know your organization has been around for a long time when you start celebrating the furniture.

This Buzzfeed quiz on which apostle you are.

The basilica of St. Francis (Assisi, Italy)

The basilica of St. Francis (Assisi, Italy)

That moment when you are about to take a practice GRE so you quickly look up the patron saint of exams (Joseph of Cuptertino, for all you college kids out there).

St. Thomas More Church

St. Thomas More Church

The opportunity to worship with my community multiple times each day is (to my surprise) one of my favorite things about SJU!