Saturday, December 31, 2022

Reflections on My 22* for 2022

On New Year's Eve 2021, I offered a reflection on one of the best habits I acquired that year—reading for 21 minutes each day. It stayed with me in 2022 and on a good day, I found time to read for 22 minutes plus. At that time, I revealed my 22 for 2022

Most, though not all, rounds of golf on new courses were played with this crew. Thanks OC ladies!

My goal is to play 22 new golf courses in 2022. This will be a fun and interesting challenge, and it's one I know I can accomplish as I will be paying greens fees at 12 new ones in Ireland in July. God willing! I am excited for the new places and perspectives I will gain by hitting the same ball (more or less) with my same clubs on new links. 

And, being that I don't write and teach about Sports and Spirituality—but actually live it!—my goal is to attend Mass at 22 new Catholic churches. I am committed to Sunday mass at my parish but I always enjoy the opportunity to pray with a new community in a different, often historic, and beautiful setting.

Similar to my tracking the books I read, I look forward to doing the same with my golf courses and Catholic parishes.

It's funny to think about it now, but 2022 threw a good number of surprises my way—most notably, a job change—taking me back to St. Ignatius. I realized, I couldn't do it all—live in San Francisco and commute to Mountain View. That same spirit and perspective is how I approached my lofty goal for this year. After playing 10, not 12 golf courses in Ireland. I realized  getting in 10+ rounds at new venues by the year's end was too ambitious. Plenty of golfers don't even play 22 rounds of golf, let alone do so at a new locale. I decided to combine forces and marry  sport and spirituality into one lump sum.

A great day for Sports and Spirituality. The HMB Pumpkin Run/Walk 5K is beautiful.
We finished in time for mass. I told James here my prayer was answered--the priest's homily finally came to and end...

While it's always fun (and challenging) to play a new golf course, much to my surprise, going to new churches proved more interesting. I shared this goal with my students and discovered I had unique stories, new insights and meaningful life lessons from most, if not all of the churches listed below. A personal highlight from this form of evangelization came by way of an unsuspecting student who approached me after class and asked "Do you only visit Catholic churches? I think you might like mine." She proceeded to tell me about her church, the community and what about it is special to her. She will love this year's 23 for 2023!

I will offer but a few insights from I gained from each and would love to hear if you've been to these places and/or want to go. Where will 2023 bring you? What sports and in what ways will spirituality be part of you life? 

Churches
1. Our Lady of Joy—Carefree, AZ
The Blessed Mother has many titles, this one might be one of my favorites. What made this mass memorable is that I went with my Uncle Jay (who lives in Washington State). If you know him, you know he truly lives his faith. I am always better having spent time with him.

2. Chapel of Saint Charles Borromeo—Alumni Hall, Notre Dame IN
I'm not convinced proceeds from the Catholics v. Convicts shirts didn't fund the of the restoration of the incredible stained glass windows in this chapel. All hail to the Dawghouse.

3. Chapel Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center in Sierra Madres, CA 
I don't take for granted that I have the opportunity to pray with my colleagues. I was one of five educators sent from Saint Francis High School to participate in the "Living the Mission" retreat—bringing together Moreau Catholic and Notre Dame Sherman Oaks—all Holy Cross schools. The mission of the Passionists is "the communication of the saving message of the Cross of Jesus Christ." This was made evident in the prayers of the faithful. So many people suffer in this world—their health, financially, etc. We are called to bring our suffering to the Lord.

4. Geddes Hall Chapel—Notre Dame, IN
Site and house of worship for the Notre Dame Women Connect retreat. NB: Don't be in charge of a retreat when it's also your 25 +1 year reunion and your classmates pay off the DJ to play for an extra hour. Ask Mike Golic if you don't believe me.

5. St. Mary's of the Angels, Dublin, Ireland
I was in Ireland during a heat wave. Even the church was uncomfortably warm. Who knew?!
Love that they offer a mass in Gaelic.

6. Franciscan Friary, Killarney, IRL
One of the most meaningful homilies I have heard to date. It still stays with me. Prompted this blog post: 
The Wide World of Sports and Spirituality: Killarney, Kerry vs Galway and Why We Should Pray

7. Loretto—St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, CA
Mass in the round. Trés Vatican II. Only made better by the presider being a good friend—Father Paul Kollman, CSC.

The old church: St. Anne in Byron, CA

8. St. Anne's—Byron, CA
I had just taught my sophomores about Why Jesus was baptized and I'm glad I did because otherwise, I might have walked out. I'm quite partial to a short(er) mass.

The child that was being welcomed into the Church was part of such a loving family I could not tell who were the parents and who were the Godparents. After the chrism was poured on the baby, the priest extended the baptismal candle to the child's parents (I think!). This little boy extended his arm as if to receive it, too. This child was welcomed to the faith with open arms and full hearts. 

A very warm and inclusive parish, the new St Anne's in Byron

9. Our Lady of the Pillar—Half Moon Bay, CA
A tie for my favorite visit of the year. Following the 44th Annual Pumpkin Run in Half Moon Bay, my dear friends Eileen and her son, James and I went to the one Catholic Church in town. I told Eileen, I knew but one family who are members of this parish.

Sure enough, the father—Chris served as the lector that day. At the sign of peace he did a double take when he saw I was there for mass. In his excitement, he pulled up the wedding photos of his daughter, who I taught. Instead of getting to the photo however, he hit his music file and Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" started playing loud and clear. I turned to Eileen and said "Chris is from Jersey. When I met his brother, he was wearing a Stone Pony t-shirt." Chris tried to stop the music, but it kept playing. If only the entire church had been invited to sing along!

10. St. John the Baptist—Rio Vista, CA 
Following a visit to Foster's Big Horn, I was able to attend the Saturday vigil mass. There were very few young people at this service but I was happy to see grandparent and his grandson both volunteered to take the collection. I started to wonder how many more young people might welcome the opportunity to go to mass with their grandparents. While many people don't live close to extended family, for those that do—I read about how meaningful this is for my students all the time...

11. St. Raymond's—Menlo Park, CA
My other favorite visit of the year, this vigil mass included the First Holy Communion of a young man who had Downs Syndrome. I wasn't quite sure why he didn't participate in the communal experience of the sacrament. Regardless, the joy of his special day was infectious!

After he received the Eucharist, he hugged and kissed his parents and Godparents, and smiled. He prayed and we all sat down, followed by a few moments of silence. It was time to bring the liturgy to a close, so the he presider said "Let us pray." to which this boy sang back "let us pray!" The two priests, the altar servers and those who could hear smiled. 

I was reminded of what a gift it is to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. It should prompt us to sing. Some of our greatest teachers can be people that society deems to be a challenge or burden...and sadly in our world today—expendable. In the spirit of Sports and Spirituality, I followed up this story with sharing the success of collegiate golfer, Amy Bockerstette.

Attending mass in a new church reveals the gifts and unique spirit of many different communities. Take an opportunity to go to Mass in a new place in 2023.

Golf
1. The Fountaingrove Golf Club, Santa Rosa, CA
The shotgun started began at 1:00 p.m. and the temperatures climbed to well over 100 degrees. my back never felt so loose.

2. Valley of the Moon, Santa Rosa, CA
Very, very humbling to see the effects of the Tubbs Fire. Makes the danger of forest fires that much more real.

3. The K Club—Palmer Ryder Cup Course
Can we say jet lag? heat wave? Most golfers can as there is always a reason that the struggle is real. That and the fact that the club championship took place on the course earlier in the day. Yes, the pin placements were diabolical.

4. Royal Dublin—Contarf East, Dublin, IRL
My caddy spoke Irish (Gaelic) and was interested in the University of Notre Dame. I begged him to apply.

5. Portmarnock Golf Club—Dublin, IRL

The Irish Blessing says "may the wind be always at your back." Amen, especially when you play links golf. 

6. Fota Island—Deerpark Course, Cork, IRL
Somehow missed the fact that the course is adjacent to a zoo. Says something about how much concentration golf asks of me.

7. Old Head GL—Kinsale, IRL
Captivating. Prompted me to write The Benefits of Blue Space.

Monica and I never got to play together, but we did play A LOT of Hearts.
I admit it, I loved throwing down the Queen of Spades on her...

8. Dook's Golf Links, Glenbeigh, IRL
Thank you to my very fit caddy who never gave up on me, though I wanted to...

9. Killarney—Killeen Golf Course, IRL
This is what you see when you pick up a postcard from Ireland.

10. Ballybunion—Old Golf Course, IRL
Don't fade to the right off the first tee. Your ball will end up in a cemetery. Not a metaphor or an allegory. Irish truth.

11. Lahinch GL—Old Course, IRL
First round in the wake of COVID. Missed out on Waterville and Tralee, it was great to be back out there.

12. Adare Manor, IRL
When you play that much golf, the descriptor "resort course" is a most welcome thing (minus the final hole).

Naming my 22 for 2022, gave me license to talk about this challenge and welcome others into the fold. I'm so grateful for the people who shared in the journey with me—my playing partners, caddies, friends new and old, fellow Catholics and curious Christians, my students and more. I hope you will join me in my 23 for 2023.... 

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