Arlington, Va., Sep 30, 2012 (CNA) - Oscar Wilde once famously said, “I love acting. It is so much more real than life.”
An actor was what 53-year-old Mike Garcia always had wanted to be, and he realized his dream by earning Screen Actors Guild and Actors’ Equity cards that gave him access to paying jobs.
Garcia was born to Fred and Stella Garcia in Alexandria and raised in Arlington Forest. His parents were both first-generation Americans. He was the fifth of seven children, all of who attended St. Thomas More elementary school and Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington.
His father was a Korean War veteran who moved from Laredo, Texas, to the Washington, D.C. area after the war. He worked in a job he loved — fixing televisions. But his mother wanted Fred to come back to his Hispanic roots in Laredo.
“Laredo doesn’t have power, much less TV,” Fred Garcia told his mother.
The family stayed in the Northern Virginia area where the family built a life that centered around the St. Thomas More parish community.
A family tradition included education at the parish school and at O’Connell.
The tradition was tarnished a bit when Garcia said he became “the first Garcia to get detention” at O’Connell.
Garcia was a smart boy who skipped third grade at St. Thomas More. He was 16 when he entered Catholic University in Washington in 1976.
He said he didn’t go to Catholic as much because it was Catholic, but because it had one of the finest theater departments in the country.
The theater world at Catholic was different for the 16-year-old freshman than the life he had at his parish community.
In 1980, when he was a senior at Catholic, he began working on the school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical about the “coat of many colors” from the Book of Genesis.
The play was a success and it eventually ran at Ford’s Theater in Washington for six months with Garcia in a role after he graduated with a bachelor’s in fine arts.
Even though Garcia said he wanted to be the “Mexican Hamlet,” he married Valerie — now principal of Blessed Sacrament School in Alexandria — in 1981 and raised two children Adam and Stefanie. He decided that “acting hours stink,” and he looked for something else.
That something else was working as the drama director and English teacher at O’Connell.
Although he prayed to be a successful actor for years, Garcia said that he believes God answers prayers in three ways: One, yes; two, not now; and three, I have a better idea.
“What I really wanted was the lifestyle I grew up with. Good people doing kind things,” he said.
In 1985, family friend Martin Harar told Garcia about an opportunity to become a State Farm Insurance agent.
Two years later he had his license and began a new career in insurance.
“I get to meet people one-on-one,” he said about his new vocation. “I love stories.”
He likes to hear people talk about their lives and to help them build a future for their families.
The Garcia family belongs to St. Ann Church in Arlington. He said he’s been studying the tools of his faith for 30 years and is now putting them into practice as a lector and extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
As a lector, he studies the Scriptures before reading them at Mass.
“What’s the point of this reading?” he’ll ask himself. “What is the point the (the author) is trying to make and how can I get the point across to the congregation?”
He was first asked to be an extraordinary minister of holy Communion in 1989 by Father John T. Cilinski. He said no because of a scheduling conflict..
Several years ago he did volunteer to be extraordinary minister of holy Communion for the hospital ministry and visit the intensive care and cardiac units at the Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington every other Sunday.
The 90 minute visit is a humbling experience, he said.
“I’m bringing them the Lamb of God.”
Some people are angry and some want to pray when he visits. Either way it’s a rich experience.
Garcia said he wants to be more apostolic.
“(I want to) live my faith better and make my relationships more about others than about me,” he said.
He was asked recently to consider the permanent diaconate. It’s a vocation he is praying about.
Garcia said he tries to live his life by the words of Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
Posted with permission from Catholic Herald, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Arlington, Va.
Denver, Colo., Sep 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Oct. 6, the Catholic Church commemorates Saint Bruno of Cologne, founder of the Carthusian order of monks who remain notable for their strictly traditional and austere rule of contemplative life.
Born in 1030, Bruno is said to have belonged to a prominent family in the city of Cologne. Little is known of his early years, except that he studied theology in the present-day French city of Reims before returning to his native land, where he was most likely ordained a priest in approximately 1055.
Returning to Reims the following year, he soon became head of the school he had attended there, after its director Heriman left to enter consecrated religious life in 1057. Bruno led and taught at the school for nearly two decades, acquiring an excellent reputation as a philosopher and theologian, until he was named chancellor of the local diocese in 1075.
Bruno's time as chancellor coincided with an uproar in Reims over the behavior of its new bishop Manasses de Gournai. Suspended by the decision of a local council, the bishop appealed to Rome while attacking and robbing the houses of his opponents. Bruno left the diocese during this period, though he was considered as a possible successor to Manasses after the bishop's final deposition in 1080.
The chancellor, however, was not interested in leading the Church of Reims. Bruno and two of his friends had resolved to renounce their worldly goods and positions and enter religious life. Inspired by a dream to seek guidance from the bishop later canonized as Saint Hugh of Grenoble, Bruno settled in the Chartreuse Mountains in 1084, joined by a small group of scholars looking to become monks.
In 1088, one of Bruno's former students was elected as Pope Urban II. Six years into his life as an alpine monk, Bruno was called to leave his remote monastery to assist the Pope in his struggle against a rival papal claimant as well as the hostile Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV.
Bruno served as a close adviser to the Pope during a critical period of reform. Around this time, he also rejected another chance to become a bishop, this time in the Italian region of Calabria. While he obtained the Pope's permission to return to monastic life, Bruno was required to remain in Italy to help the Pope periodically, rather than returning to his monastery in France.
During the 1090s Bruno befriended Count Roger of Sicily and Calabria, who granted land to his group of monks and enabled the founding of a major monastery in 1095. The monks were known, then as now, for their strict practice of asceticism, poverty, and prayer; and for their unique organizational form, combining the solitary life of hermits with the collective life of more conventional monks.
St. Bruno died on October 6, 1101, after making a notable profession of faith which was preserved for posterity. In this final testimony, he gave particular emphasis to the doctrine of Christ's Eucharistic presence, which had already begun to be questioned in parts of the Western Church.
“I believe,” he attested, “in the sacraments that the Church believes and holds in reverence, and especially that what has been consecrated on the altar is the true Flesh and the true Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which we receive for the forgiveness of our sins and in the hope of eternal salvation.”
Veneration of St. Bruno was given formal approval in 1514, and extended throughout the Latin Rite in 1623. More recently, his Carthusian Order was the subject of the 2006 documentary film “Into Great Silence,” chronicling the life of monks in the Grand Chartreuse monastery.
Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 30, 2012 (CNA) - An “upbeat” pro-life event this November at Dodger Stadium will bring together teen speakers, professional athletes, celebrities, musicians and religious leaders to encourage young people to “go to bat for life” and become outspoken pro-life advocates.
“Young people speaking to young people is what will make our event unique – along with a joyous tone that will convey the beauty, fun and normalcy of being pro-life!” Carol Golbranson, co-founder of LIFEsocal, said Sept. 14.
LIFEsocal, a group of Los Angeles-area high school and college students and their parents, organized the Nov. 18 event, called Go2bat4LIFE. The interfaith gathering has the support of Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez.
Golbranson said the event will send the message that “not only is it okay to be prolife, but it is fun, and it is cool as well.”
Baptist Pastor Walter Hoye II will emcee the event. Christian bands such as Christafari and Lincoln Brewster will perform on the stadium’s infield stage. Professional athletes and other guests will rally the crowd.
Featured speakers and special guests include actor and “Bella” star Eduardo Verastegui; actress, singer and visual artist Alexandra Besore; 14-year-old actor Mauricio Kuri, who starred in the movie “For Greater Glory”; and pro-life advocate Marion Jones.
Several teenagers will tell the gathering about their unplanned pregnancies, what choices they made in response, and how those choices affected their lives.
One university student will talk about how she placed her baby in an adoptive home, while an abortion survivor will talk about forgiveness. A young man who was involved in an abortion will talk about how the death of his son changed his perspective.
Organizers have invited churches and schools from across southern California to attend.
Attendees can play baseball-themed games, ride a zip line and carnival rides, and enjoy ballpark food.
Check-in begins at 11:30 a.m. and the event lasts from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The event begins with a one-mile walk around the perimeter of Dodger Stadium.
Entry tickets cost $10 per person, though children 10 years-old and under can attend free. Game ticket proceeds benefit local pregnancy help centers and other pro-life ministries.
More information is available at the event’s website go2bat4life.com.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 30, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI says that Catholics should be delighted whenever non-Catholics do what is good or embrace what is true.
“Members of the Church should not feel jealousy, but rejoice if someone from outside the community does good in the name of Christ, provided this is done with right intention and with respect,” he said during his Sept. 30 Angelus address at Castel Gandolfo.
The Pope was reflecting on the Sunday Gospel, as recorded by St. Mark, in which “a man, who was not the followers of Jesus had cast out demons in his name” when “the Apostle John, young and zealous, wants to stop him, but Jesus will not allow him.”
Several thousand pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo for the Angelus, where they heard the Pope remind them of the words of the 4-5th century Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine: “Just as one can find that which is not Catholic in the Catholic Church – that is, in the Church – one can also find something that may be Catholic outside of the Catholic Church.”
This, the Pope said, is what Jesus wishes to explain to his disciples, that “good and even miraculous things” can happen outside their circle when others “cooperate with the Kingdom of God” even in small gestures such as “offering a simple glass of water to a missionary.”
The same tendency towards jealousy can also exist, observed Pope Benedict, within the Church when Catholics resent holiness and goodness being attained co-religionists.
“Instead we should all be able to always appreciate and respect each other, praising the Lord for the infinite ‘fantasy’ with which he acts in the Church and in the world,” advised the Pope.
He also touched upon the Second Reading from today’s Mass in which St. James rebukes those who “trust in the riches accumulated by dint of oppression.”
“The words of the apostle James,” said the Pope, are a warning against the “vain desire for material goods.” Instead they are a “powerful call” to use wealth “in the perspective of solidarity and the common good, always acting with fairness and morality, at all level.”
In conclusion, Pope Benedict commended all those present to the Blessed Virgin Mary so that all Catholics may “rejoice in every good gesture and initiative, without envy or jealously.”
He then led the faithful in the traditional midday Marian prayer before addressing pilgrims in their various native languages and imparting his apostolic blessing.