by Matt Copas
Following the Maui wildfire in Lahaina, my wife Johana was ready to jump on a plane and go help those affected. I am the more practical one and told her that we need to make sure our son and everything is taken care of first. That first weekend, we had a men’s social gathering with some of the guys from church. John and Ryan Fielding were invited to talk to everyone about supporting Maui. I remember them through the Kapuna Needs Project, even though I couldn’t help due to being on deployment. They talked about supporting through donations and going to Maui to volunteer. During the talk, I felt called to go help and felt the desire my wife had to be on the ground helping. I texted Johana and got the OK from her, then called my boss to make sure I could take the days off. Everything seemed to fall into place, where I knew I was supposed to go to help.
Monday was a busy day of loading the boats, getting supplies, packing personal stuff, watching Willy while Johana went to support EPIC Windward Faith Sharing. Everyone at P&R Water Taxi was awesome and supportive. That night we got to the boat around midnight and some of the guys were already passed out on the couches. There were six of us total going: John, Ryan, Nick, Riley, Fr. Pascual, and myself. I fell asleep only to be woken up briefly by our departure around 4 am and the occasional wave hitting the boat. The surprise came the next morning as I walked on the deck to see a dozen or more jet skis coming to unload the boats and take us to shore. It was awesome to see the support and coordination of everyone involved, making sure all the supplies got ashore even with the fact of having to lower two generators off the boat.
The next couple of days were spent setting up and organizing the supplies at Sacred Heart Mission Church in Kapalua. The turnout from the parish was great, with the support of Missionary Sisters of Faith at Maria Lanakila Church, the Knights of Columbus, staff at Sacred Hearts School, and many other parishioners. It was amazing to see as people came in with needs, we would be able to send the request back to everyone on Oahu and get the specific supplies that were needed.
The first week there was such a communication issue with spotty cell service, no internet, power outages, and the main road back to Kahului being backed up or closed. Everyone on the west side felt isolated; they couldn’t leave or worried if they did, they would not be able to get back home. When we asked if they had seen this or that, they often hadn’t. Reports from state officials often said to go to this website or fill out this, but most didn’t have any access. At dinner the first night, one of the parishioners put in perspective the wide range of problems those affected, ranging from loss of power to homes, jobs, family members, and any combination. Everyone was affected differently, but everyone on the west side was affected in some way and is still being affected and needs our support as they continue to recover from this.
On a more positive note, it was great to be able to have Mass every day while we were there and see the community coming in every day. The church was open all day for those to come in and pray and just spend time with God as they healed from the effects of this wildfire. I always enjoyed every morning, seeing people walking in and being so happy to see their friends and knowing that they were OK through all of this after not seeing them for a week.
There were several other groups there that were at the Church when we arrived that I would love to give a shoutout to, but due to our limited time there after the beach before leaving to catch our flight, I didn’t get to meet everyone. I know there are so many groups and people there supporting, but we need a continued effort of donations and volunteers. The media will move on from what happened in Maui soon, but the recovery for those there will take years. As those in the Catholic Church and those who are blessed to call Hawaii home, we need to ensure we continue to support our brothers and sisters on Maui through the long haul. A lot has been done, but more will be needed, and I encourage everyone to reach out to EPIC Ministry or the Knights of Columbus to support. By reaching out, we can ensure the needed supplies get to those affected and that we have the support of volunteers to continue the recovery effort. I thank God for the ability to go serve and all the miracles I witnessed in my few days there. I continue to pray for those suffering and encourage everyone to continually pray and support Maui through all of this. God bless and thank you to everyone who has supported and continues to support!
Matt Copas is a chapter leader for the EPIC Windward Chapter. He is married to Johana, another EPIC leader, and together they have an energetic 2-year-old, Willy.
by Tiffany Wong
Welcome to July! This month, we celebrate Jesus’ most precious blood!
Blood is essential to our life, making up seven percent of our body, and is vital for delivering oxygen and nutrients to our cells. There is no substitute for blood: it cannot be made or manufactured. Your blood helps to protect you from viruses and heals your wounds. The blood of Jesus works similarly in a spiritual manner: the blood of Christ shed during His crucifixion cleanses us from sin, sanctifies us and provides us with nourishment through the holy Eucharist. Every time we receive the Eucharist, we are reminded of the sacrifice of Jesus: He gave his blood, the very essence of his life, to forgive us of our sins and help us attain eternal life. The blood Jesus shed during the crucifixion is a blessing, showing his constant, unfailing love for us.
During the crucifixion, Jesus shed blood 7 different times. Let us reflect on its significance. 1) Jesus sweat blood at the Garden of Gethsemane: his blood now gives us the willpower to overcome all adversity and temptations in our lives. 2) Jesus shed blood from his back during the scourging: this blood makes us whole and heals us through Jesus' meekness. 3) Jesus suffered internal bleeding while being beaten: this blood heals us from inner pains and iniquities. 4) Jesus shed blood from his head when he received the crown of thorns: this blood gives us the power to think clearly and not succumb to sin. 5) Jesus shed blood from his hands when they pierced him with nails: this blood helps us to use our hands to serve others. 6) Jesus shed blood from his feet when they pierced him with nails: this blood gives us authority to walk a righteous path with our feet. 7) Jesus shed blood when they pierced his side: this blood brings us joy. Jesus suffered all of this with his heart for our sins and betrayal: this blood heals us from all heartbreak and sadness.
Jesus offered every drop of his blood and every ounce of his entire being as a sacrifice for all of us. Let us begin this month with a reminder that Jesus' precious blood is a universal component that heals, restores, and forgives. Jesus gave his life for us, so let us show Jesus our love for Him by how we live our lives and love others.
Tiffany Wong joined EPIC Ministry in 2019. Since then, she has developed many new friendships and has participated in different EPIC events that have all drawn her in closer to her faith. She is currently an Early Childhood Education Teacher at Sacred Hearts Academy and loves working with children. Tiffany currently attends Mass at Blessed Sacrament and Mary, Star of the Sea. She enjoys praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, going to Adoration, listening to faith filled podcasts and reading books on Catholicism. She enjoys hiking, karaoke, traveling, eating delicious food and sharing a good laugh!
by Matthew David
Welcome to June, the month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Specifically, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is celebrated on the Friday after the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. This year it will be on June 16, 2023. There are four visionaries to whom Jesus revealed his heart aflame for all people: St. Lutgardis (1182-June 16, 1246), St. Mechtilde (1240-November 19, 1298), St. Gertrude the Great (1256-1301), and St. Margaret Mary Alacoque (July 22, 1647-October 17, 1690).
In one of St. Lutgardis’ visions, she asked the Lord to have his heart. The Lord replied that He wanted her heart. She replied, “So be it, Lord, so long as your heart’s love is mingled with mine, and I have and hold my heart in you. For with you as my shield, my heart is secure for all time.” It was beautiful how the Lord turned it around by wanting Lutgaris’ heart. Our Lord wants our hearts too. He wants us all to love him. “Go and learn the meaning of the words, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.” (Mt 9:13)
St. Mechtilde had many conversations with Jesus, documented by sisters in her convent in “The Book of Special Grace.” In one of these moments, Jesus told Mechtilde, “In the morning, let your first act be to greet my Heart and to offer me your own. Whoever breathes a sigh toward me draws me to himself.” This is the ultimate goal, for the reader to go deeper into the unfathomable abyss of His divine Love.
St. Gertrude the Great was one of the nuns who contributed to the book about St. Mechtilde’s visions of Jesus. Our Lord also appeared to St. Gertrude many times as an intimate friend. He consoled her in the highs and lows of life, saying, “May the full tide of thy affection rise to Me, so that all thy pleasure, thy hope, thy joy, thy grief, thy fear, and every other feeling may be sustained by My love.” Jesus taught her that His love is for each and every soul. He is the shepherd who leaves the 99 sheep to find you, the one lost sheep.
The Solemnity came into fruition to the universal church through the intercession of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. In 1675, the Lord told St. Margaret Mary that He wanted the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart to be celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi. In 1856, the Solemnity became a universal feast. Jesus also made 12 promises to those who receive Holy Communion on first Fridays, monthly confession, venerate an image of His Sacred Heart, and pray and offer sacrifices out of love for Him and for the conversion of sinners.
12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
1. I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their homes.
3. I will comfort them in all their afflictions.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all, in death.
5. I will bestow abundant blessings upon all their undertakings.
6. Sinners will find in my Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection.
9. I will bless every place in which an image of my Heart is exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in my Heart.
12. I promise you in the excessive mercy of my Heart that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Fridays in nine consecutive months the grace of final perseverance; they shall not die in my disgrace, nor without receiving their sacraments. My divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.
So what do I do with this? As the Sacred Heart has a crown of thorns surrounding it, we, too, are called to do small penances in our lives. Personally, I am going to work on purity. Being a single male, I am prone to habitual sins against chastity. This month, I will put a better effort into sheltering myself in the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
We can also bring Christ’s love into the world. I share his love with others in the Army. Specifically, I work with two women married to other women. Over the past two years, I loved them both where they were at. By building a relationship with each of them, they noticed I’m very involved with church. They saw my love for Jesus and asked me about my weekends hanging with the Aunties and Uncles at church. Furthermore, I show all my coworkers how I live as a single Catholic man by treating everyone with dignity and following our organization's laws. I even have a crucifix at my desk. St. Bernadette used to say when people came to talk to her about seeing the Blessed Virgin, she said my mission is to inform, not to convince. It’s up to Jesus to turn their hearts and bring about conversion.
Another thing you can do is enthrone your home with an image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Here are a few books that talk about this devotion.
A Heart on Fire: Rediscovering Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by James Kubicki
Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Michael E. Gaitley
The Enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Revised Edition) by His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
You can also pray the Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus every day. https://www.usccb.org/prayers/litany-sacred-heart-jesus.
Whatever you do this month to honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I pray you will strengthen your relationship with Jesus. I hope you give your heart to Jesus like St. Lutgardis. I hope you can have meaningful talks with Jesus throughout the day, entrusting all your joys and sorrows with him. His merciful love is there. It’s up to you to dive into his ocean of love.
Fenton, Francesca Pollio, “Why is June the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251588/why-is-june-the-month-of-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus, June 1, 2023, 2:00 a.m.
Kosloski, Philip, “4 Visionaries who saw the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the messages they received”, https://aleteia.org/2018/06/07/4-visionaries-who-saw-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus-and-the-messages-they-received/,June 7, 2018
Ghezzi, Bert, "Saint Lutgarde of Aywières," https://www.loyolapress.com/catholic-resources/saints/saints-stories-for-all-ages/saint-lutgarde-of-aywieres/, copyright 2023
Casanova, Gertrude, "Mecthilde, Saint," https://www.catholic.com/encyclopedia/mechtilde-saint, copyright 1996-2023
Hadley, Cheryl, “St. Gertrude the Great: Into the Heart of Christ Through Prayer,” https://www.catholiccompany.com/magazine/st-gertrude-the-great-heart-of-christ-through-prayer-6538, Nov 14, 2019
“What is the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus?” https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/seasons-and-feast-days/sacred-heart-of-jesus-14357, Copyright © 2023 Eternal Word Television Network, Inc. Irondale, Alabama. All rights reserved.
Thierfelder, Mary, “The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus”, https://www.catholiccompany.com/magazine/12-promises-sacred-heart-of-jesus-2-6075, June 5, 2017
“Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” https://media.ascensionpress.com/video/devotion-to-the-sacred-heart-of-jesus/, 2023 copyright Ascension Press
Kosloski, Philip, “How to enthrone the Sacred Heart in your home (and heart)” https://aleteia.org/2017/06/01/how-to-enthrone-the-sacred-heart-in-your-home-and-heart/, June 1, 2017
Costa, Anne, “Prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus,” https://www.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit-blog/prayers-to-the-sacred-heart/, April 15, 2020
Matthew "Matt" David joined EPIC Ministry when it was just a young adult ministry at Our Lady of Sorrows in 2007. He has built many friendships with members from being stationed in Hawaii for ten years of his Army career. Matt celebrates 19 years of active duty and is currently stationed at the Army School of Music, Virginia Beach, VA. In September, he will take command of the US Army Japan Band. He enjoys living a celibate single life for Christ while staying active in the church with all the Aunties and Uncles no matter the duty station. He occasionally comes back to Hawaii to reconnect with friends and family and EPIC Ministry of course, coming on a retreat or two, helping out at faith sharing, and just seeing how he can serve the ministry, whether its taking photos, praying, or just bringing joy whenever he is on-island.
by Nicole Maile Santos
After a full day of traveling, all I wanted was to draw close to Jesus during our daily holy hour. Walking into the Adoration chapel, I was struck by the beauty of the life-sized golden monstrance of Our Lady. As our Poland pilgrimage group entered reverently into our pews, Sr. Maris Stella asked us a question to reflect on. “Who is Mary to you?”
Sitting before the Blessed Sacrament 7,000 miles from home, I was deeply convicted by the harsh reality that I could not provide a true answer to that question. Who really was Mary to me? In many ways I could talk about Mary, but I was unable to picture who she was in relation to me. The best way to describe my heart in that hour was one scrambling to find a way to affirm a person you do not know personally. I felt restless and empty, just drawing a blank.
Growing up I felt some sort of disconnect with Mary. She seemed so perfect, so calm, so put together – qualities I found that I lacked in myself. It almost felt as though I would be too much for Our Lady to handle.
Then I just put my preconceived notions of her aside and let myself gaze upon the beauty of the Blessed Sacrament and how Mary was the monstrance. There were rays of light surrounding her and lilies adorned at her feet. But the most beautiful part was that Jesus was exposed in the very location of where her heart would be.
Then it all clicked – it is Jesus!
Mary is the key to drawing closer to Jesus. Her life was devoted to loving her Son. Her entire heart is for Jesus. She desires nothing more than for us to be the same way, to love Jesus with our whole heart. She is the perfect model for us, as she was the one who birthed Him into life, raised Him as a child, and walked with Him through his death. Who better to show us how to wholeheartedly love Jesus than His mother?
I sunk deep into my pew and recognized the mother shaped hole in my heart. I longed to be close to Mary. It was that moment where I felt as though Jesus entrusted me to His mom as he did to his beloved disciple as He hung upon the cross (John 19:26-27). I could hear Him say “Nicole, behold your mother.” For years I’ve prayed decades upon decades of rosaries, sang Marian hymns, and in fact – my own Parish is named in honor of Mary herself. Yet somehow I failed to see her as my own mother.
That hour my heart cried out a prayer I’ve never said before, “Mary be a mother to me.” I wrote in my journal:
“Now I realize. Mary is incredibly essential. To love Jesus is to love and embrace His mother, the one who embraced Jesus first. The way she loves Jesus is the same way she loves us. May I, too, embrace her totally with the heart of Jesus.”
As Catholics, we honor Mary everyday, but especially during the month of May. I humbly ask that you look deep within your heart and ask yourself, “Who is Mary to me?” For those of us who may feel far away from her, ask her to be a mother to you. Let Mary be your mother and allow her to draw you every closer to her Son.
Nicole Maile Santos is the current leader of Strive, a young adult ministry based at Our Lady of Good Counsel, Pearl City. OLGC Strive and EPIC Ministry have collaborated for events such as community service, social gatherings and most recently a 24-hour Adoration at Paewalani and a Holy Thursday Pilgrimage. Nicole works full-time as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for Invo Healthcare. She is also recently engaged to her fiancé, Ian Leyco, and they are planning to get married in 2024.
by Rhea Quemado
As I was in the midst of typing this out at the EPIC Community House this song “Things of Heaven” by Red Rocks Worship started playing (I started bawling lol). Here’s the lyrics that just spoke to me:
Something is coming, I feel the wind blowing
With mystery, things unseen
The tides are now changing, I see the dawn breaking
It's happening, the awakening
So come, Holy Spirit come
And hover over us, Holy Spirit come
And open the Heavens, fling wide the gates
Unleash Your presence, pour out Your grace
Show me Your glory, the power of Your love
'Cause even a glimpse is more than enough for me
These lines stuck out to me so clearly “So come, Holy Spirit come, and hover over us, Holy Spirit come…. Unleash Your presence, pour out Your grace, Show me Your glory, the power of Your love 'Cause even a glimpse is more than enough for me”
So the Pope declared that these next three years in the Church we are focusing on the Eucharistic Revival. One of the ways that I can do that is a revival and sharing of my devotion to the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We had just started our first ever 24-hour Adoration at the chapel in the EPIC Community House, so in the early hours of the morning of April 1 while a part of the world was sleeping, I was sitting in the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and it gave me a lot to reflect on. I was reminded when I was first introduced to this practice of Adoration long ago by Aunty Liz. She'd have us go to adoration for a few minutes in the beginning of every confirmation class, so it became routine for me. Back then I never really and fully understood it like I do now, but I am so thankful she did that, because it made me realize how much I was drawn to it. There were so many moments that I could really feel the presence of Christ, it eventually became this place of solace for me that I’ve been drawn to numerous times throughout my life. So April is the month of the Holy Spirit, and during the last supper which we will celebrate in this coming Holy Thursday, Jesus speaks of his departure from this world and his return to the Father, he also tells them about the Advocate, the Holy Spirit (or helper), that will be sent among them after he is gone. Jesus assures the disciples and all of us that this is not the end of the story. Jesus speaks these final words to the Apostles before his Ascension in Acts, he says “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the institution of the Eucharist, Jesus has put into place a means by which he could truly remain with all of us, at all times, in all places, until he comes again. I've been to so many different churches all over and sat in many Blessed Sacrament chapels, and all of them had the same presence of Christ. In Adoration I was able to have a safe and quiet space, a place where even though the thoughts in my head were so loud and messy, I could at least find a moment, even a second of peace, to escape the busy and overwhelming world and quiet my heart and mind, to just be still, a place to rejuvenate my soul and cultivate my spirit, a place where I was able to pour my heart out during some of the most difficult times of my life, a place where I could heal and surrender my pain, a place where I discerned some of my biggest life decisions, a place where I could process and reflect on my actions, words, thoughts, and feelings, a place that I could intentionally pray for others, and ultimately a place where I could deepen my relationship with Christ. The line in the song, “Unleash Your presence, pour out Your grace, Show me Your glory, the power of Your love 'Cause even a glimpse is more than enough for me.” Adoration is just that for me. Christ is always there in the presence of the Eucharist, he said "This is my Body" and I truly believe that. So many times I could not help but feel overwhelmed by the presence of Christ in my life, and that especially happened when I opened myself up to the Holy Spirit during mass or in Adoration. When I take time to be in his presence it allows me to take time to understand the movements of the Holy Spirit in my life, and when I receive him in the Eucharist at mass it reminds me of Christ’s presence within me so that I can go out and bring his presence to the world in all that I do and to all I meet.
The Holy Spirit is usually spoken of as a “force,” or as “power” emanating from God, rather than as God himself, but we know that the Holy Spirit is more than just a force, he is God. Because of the infinite nature of God, we can’t fully understand or fully comprehend the teaching of the Holy Spirit, (or even the Trinity) and like so many things in the Catholic faith, there’s this element of mystery to it, but that's part of the beauty of it all. Christ gave us this gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the gift of the Eucharist so that we could receive him, and in those gifts he comes to dwell in us, so that we can become temples of the divine life, instruments of peace, and ambassadors of Christ’s presence in the world.
To be honest it’s okay, to not fully understand the teaching of the Holy Spirit or the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Maybe we don’t need to fully know, so that God can reveal his beauty, and plan for us personally. When something is mysterious, don’t you desire or are curious to try to figure it out? Try to know more? That’s the beauty of this journey, you and I are a part of God’s wonderful plan, and by our acceptance of the gospel and trust in him, not only are we filled with divine life and enabled to live in newness of life, we have the opportunity and privilege of carrying the presence of Christ and his love into the world, that desperately needs him. Just trust in him, because when you trust in the Holy Spirit, you will see how the Lord leads you to become the best version of yourself, so that you can know, love, and serve him in the way he created you to be. So let the Holy Spirit guide you during this Easter Season!
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us Your faithful and kindle in us the fire of Your love. Send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created and You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. Oh God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, instructs the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Rhea is currently the Vice-Director of Programs for EPIC Ministry Hawaii, as well as the co-coordinator for the Central Oahu Chapter. Rhea is also a first year Theology Teacher at Damien Memorial, where she teaches Theology of the Body and Creating a Christian Lifestyle to seniors. She has her Masters Degree in Pastoral Theology from Chaminade University of Honolulu, and a BS in International Business and Marketing from HPU.
by Ian Casabay
At the end of every mass, the priest or deacon dismisses the faithful by proclaiming "Go forth, the mass is ended" (or if you also attend the traditional latin mass like me, it is "ite missa est," which means “go, it is sent”), just as Jesus had commissioned his disciples right before his ascension into heaven. At this great commissioning, after having received our Lord himself in the Holy Eucharist, as well as the priest’s final blessing, the faithful are called to do some sort of action with their lives, once they leave the church. Realize that we do not commission ourselves, but rather God commissions us, through his clerics, to do the work he tasks each and every one of us with. But some may ask, “what ought we do after we leave the mass?” I myself have asked this question multiple times.
From February third to the fifth, I attended the weekend EPIC retreat on Oahu, “Salt, Light, City, Deeds.” The retreat was filled with amazing Christ-centered people, and activities that had enriched our community and spiritual lives. It was on this retreat that I had been given an answer. As our Lord states in the gospel of Matthew, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot” (Matthew 5:13). As salt gives more flavor to the food it seasons, so too as Catholic Christians, are called by our Lord to give flavor to the world. Our Lord in the same chapter of Matthew’s gospel, also states, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15). As followers of Christ, we are also called by Jesus to be a light unto the world; a light that is not meant to be hidden, but to be seen by all. You might ask yourself: “How am I to live out what our Lord says we ought to be?” Everyone has their own unique gifts which the Lord bestows upon us. Just as many recipes call for the dish to be seasoned to taste, everyone has their own unique gifts that add a unique flavor to the world in different ways. Possibly, your gift is reaching out to people. Perhaps your gift may be sharing your powerful witness to others. Even the smallest tasks that we have the ability to do, can make us the salt of the earth and the light of the world. A smile at a stranger could lighten up their day, and even asking how their day was could make all the difference. As St. Therese of Liseux once said, “A word or smile is often enough to put fresh life in a despondent soul.” Even though we may not think the small things help our cause to be salt and light, they still contribute to it, as even the smallest actions can make a big difference in someone’s life.
As being salt of the earth and light of the world, we also need to recharge our “saltiness” and our “light.” As Jesus had said that “if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned?,” we ought to recharge ourselves in order to share our salt and light in deeds with the world. Thankfully, Jesus has left us ways to recharge ourselves. Through the sacraments of his church, we are spiritually recharged and made anew to renew our mission of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
For me, my time being in EPIC has allowed me to be that salt and to shine the light that God has called me to. I first joined EPIC in the summer of 2022 when I was invited by EPIC Maui’s chapter coordinator, Cecilia, to a faith sharing. I had attended the Christian Leadership Institute (CLI) of that year to serve on the adult team as a small group leader. This is where I met St. Theresa’s youth ministry coordinator, who gave my number to Cecilia. At first, I was hesitant at joining the ministry and had overthought about it. At first, it felt a little awkward being new in the ministry, but eventually, it has come to be a family. I had also attended a few past EPIC retreats, which empowered my spiritual life, and bond with other members of EPIC Ministry. I am now serving on the core team for EPIC Maui as the logistics officer, where I can fulfill my duty of being salt and light, by helping to plan and set up events, as well as to reach out to other young adults who may want to be part of a Catholic young adult community. I had also been given the chance to serve as a small group leader during EPIC’s ninth season of small group ministry. Through the small group ministry, I got to form stronger bonds with some of our chapter members, as well as form a stronger spiritual life along with them.
So, go forth and do what God has called you to do. Remember that you are not alone as God is always with you on this journey. Add your salt to this world and never put on a mask to hide the true light God wants you to shine. Always do the littlest of things to better this world. Remember, even one percent counts. Add your flavor to the world and shine your light upon it.
Ian Casabay is a 3rd year undergraduate student at University of Hawaii Maui College (UHMC) working on his Associates in Liberal Arts. He current serves as the EPIC Maui Core Team Logistics Officer, an Altar Server for Christ the King and for the Traditional Latin Mass at Maria Lanakila, and a Catechist Aid for high school religious education at Christ the King.
“ Catholics, we and you, must bring the breath of goodness that can only spring from faith in Christ.” (Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati)
Aloha mai kākou,
Happy New Year and Happy Epiphanytide!
In the gospel of Luke we read the narrative of Jesus meeting the fishermen at the lake of Gennes′aret and exhorting them, although they caught no fish throughout the previous night, to “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) Even though these men were not yet familiar with Jesus they, moved by grace, did as He commanded. What resulted from this was not only a catch but an abundance of fish, so much so in fact, that their nets began to break and they needed the assistance of another boat in the area. Scripture says there was such an abundance of fish that both boats began to sink (cf. Luke 5:7) The story ends with these fishermen, having been overcome by the outpouring of God’s grace, leaving everything they had and following Jesus (cf. Luke 5:10)
The most common lesson gained from this narrative is that when we listen to the Lord’s voice, He will pour out a plentitude of His grace–which is indeed a great lesson. However, there is a small detail in that story that I think teaches us another essential lesson: The other boat that came to assist was also filled with fish.
You see, when we listen to the voice of God and open ourselves to His inexhaustible Grace, not only we but also those around us are immersed in His goodness and are transformed by His amazing love. The life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, one of the saintly patrons of EPIC Ministry, exemplifies this blessed reality and sets an important example for all Catholic young adults.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was born in Turin, Italy in the early 1900s and grew to be what seemed to be an ordinary young adult. Pier loved mountain-climbing, skiing, biking, gardening, reading poetry, photography, singing, visiting art museums, traveling and many other things that are common for young adults, even today. The letters he wrote discussed his love for his family, friends, and even his secret love for a special girl named Laura Hidalgo. Many accounts of Pier from his friends speak about how infectiously funny he was and how he was the life of the party. In short, he was a normal young adult. He reminds me of some of the young adults today in EPIC!
However, while enjoying the life of a young adult, he also had an extraordinary love for our Lord. He loved Eucharistic Adoration. Father Tommaso Castagno, writing about Pier shared “I remember Pier Giorgio well during adoration one night in the Turin cathedral: he was kneeling on the floor trying to pray as other young people were brushing past him as they went to and from Communion. Melted wax dripped from the candles onto his suitcoat, and he didn’t seem to notice it at all, so absorbed was he in his prayers. Then I understood what Communion and a Eucharistic life meant to him”
Pier also had a special affinity for serving the poor and those in need. He would spend what money he had on helping those who went without and would spend hours doing his best to cheer up those who were ill. He was, as St. John Paul II called him, a “Man of the Beatitudes”.
It wasn't until his untimely death at the age of 24 that his family and the world at large realized how much impact he made on others. His funeral was attended by an enormous crowd of the people he helped and inspired. Soon the world realized how this otherwise ordinary young man was driven by an abundance of God’s grace and a desire for others to experience that grace as well. Hundreds of people who knew him were brought to conversion and, in the years leading up to now, thousands have studied his life and have also been transformed by the tremendous grace of God and the salvation that comes through faith in Him. St John Paul II said at Pier’s Beatification that He (Pier) “left this world rather young, but he made a mark upon our entire century, and not only on our century.”
Of all his interests, Pier especially loved mountain-climbing. He would often bring his friends with him and they would pray the rosary while they climbed. There is a famous picture of him climbing a steep cliff and looking up to the peak. He later signed that picture with the quote “Verso Lʻalto”, which means “To the Summit”. There is no doubt that this quote takes on special spiritual meaning. Pier, although a young adult that loved young adult things, always journeyed towards God, his ‘summit’. He opened his heart to the abundant graces that God desired to pour out on him. His openness to God’s grace was so great that it not only filled him but also filled others that were around him.
This year I want to challenge the young adults of EPIC and anyone who reads this to live their lives to the fullest, enjoy the awesome things about life, and also open their hearts up fully to the grace of God. Perhaps, like Pier, the grace which God will pour out on us won't just fill us but will also fill those around us. Perhaps, like the fishermen, not only will our boat be filled but also the boats of those around us.
Ad Jesum Per Mariam,
Dallas Carter Jr., MPT
Dallas Carter is a husband, father of 6, high school director, small business owner, Catholic Apologist, National Catholic Speaker, and a Diocesan Catechist for the Diocese of Honolulu. Currently he is the Director of St. Michael High School, the President of the Board of Directors for EPIC Ministry 501(c)(3), a Director for Life is Sacred 501(c)(3), and Faith Program Director for the Knights of Columbus in Hawaii. He has his degree in Theology from Franciscan University in Steubenville and a Master's from Chaminade University in Honolulu.
by Mark Paul Pilar
In Nomine Patris, Et Filii, Et Spiritus Sancti, Amen (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen)
When we reflect on the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, we have to think like a writer trying to write a new story. A writer creates the characters, their backstory, assigns them specific roles, and tells the story utilizing characters that he or she created in order to bring the entire story to life. That’s what God did with our Blessed Mother, even before she came into existence, God had already assigned her the role she was going to play and that she’d be conceived without original sin and play the role of the Mother of Christ.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teaches us that God has already written our story just like He did for our Blessed Mother. Although we don’t know how our lives will exactly play out according to God’s plan, we must continue to place our full trust in God’s plan for our lives and let Him tell the story that He has written for each one of us.
How? Trusting in Him. Easier said than done, I know. It’s never an easy thing to do especially when we are wanting things to go our way all the time, especially when life will hit us unexpectedly.
On the Feast Day of the Immaculate conception, the Gospel reading is from Luke 1:26-38. St Gabriel the Archangel was sent by God to visit our Blessed Mother in Nazareth and spoke the words “Hail Full of Grace, the Lord is with you” and then reassured her saying “Do Not Be Afraid”, from there St Gabriel told our Blessed Mother that she will be conceived by the Holy Ghost and that the child Jesus will be born. Mary did have fear but her ultimate response to St Gabriel was “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to thy word”. Our Blessed Mother’s response was a response of trusting God fully by the words of her beautiful Fiat.
Even though we are presented with opportunities where God asks of us to take the leap of faith so that we can meet Him where he’s at in our lives, we have to be like our Blessed Mother and recite the words of her Faith “May it be done unto me according to they word”. Many of you know my discernment story that is still being revealed to me and the risk I took to get to where I am at. For those of you who don’t know I am currently in a long-distance relationship and by long distance, I mean in another country, and by another country, I mean Canada.
In July 2021, Celina and I received news that the Canadian Borders will be open to US travelers. Prior to that we were worried and prayed a lot that the borders would be open and they did. The following month was when I took the leap of faith to book my flight to meet Celina in Edmonton for the first time. I was scared and by scared I mean I almost did not fly up. So many thoughts of doubt were running through my mind but I then I ended up praying the rosary. After praying the rosary was when I booked my trip and right before hitting the “Book Flight’ button, I whispered “Lord, let it be done unto me according to thy word”.
October 2nd came and I was already on my flight. During my flight’s, I prayed the rosary and kept on whispering Mary’s fiat over and over again and reminded myself not to expect anything from this trip because I was only meeting Celina for the first time. When I got to meet Celina the next day, we got acquainted and started our first adventure together. I got to meet her family, her roommates, and her friends throughout this trip. In the middle of it all we expressed doubts and thoughts about whether this would work out or not. On October 11, 2021 we went to Mass together on the feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The Gospel for that feast day is Mary’s Fiat. Luke 1:26-38. That was the day where we officially started dating and trusted God with His plan for us.
God has presented me an opportunity to take that leap of faith and trust Him and never would I thought I would have made that trip and I’m glad I did because God presented me with the opportunity to discern with Celina and to grow in faith and trust in Him to a whole new level. Even though my story is still being revealed, I know that every time I read up on the Immaculate Conception, I am always reminded of Mary’s Fiat.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception reminds us that God has already written our story for us and knows how it will end up just like how he has written our Blessed Mother’s story. When God presents us with challenges that shake our faith, new opportunities that are intimidating, difficult decisions to make, etc. We are called to Trust God and to also meditate on the words of our Blessed Mother’s fiat “Let it be done unto me according to thy word”.
May the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception teach us and Trust in God’s plan for our lives even in the midst of uncertainty. If God already knew what plan He had for our Blessed Mother even before she was conceived, God already knows what plan He has for our own lives. Trust in Him.
In Nomine Patris, Et Filii, Et Spiritus Sancti, Amen (In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen)
Mark has been apart of EPIC ministry since 2015. Throughout his years in EPIC, he has served as a small group leader, been part of the Core team and served as a Site Team Leader and Information Officer from 2019-2022. Aside from being a part of EPIC and serving the ministry, he also attends the Traditional Latin Mass at Blessed Sacrament Church in Pauoa and serves as one of the Sacristans for that parish. Outside of Church, Mark is a Full-Time Inspector at ADT security and is currently working on obtaining his Cyber Security Certification and restarting his photography business within the next year.
By Jessica Russell
To be grateful is one of the most difficult things to do when you are not in the right place in your life to give thanks. When you can be pessimistic and always look for what’s wrong in your life instead of looking for all the small blessings that God has given you. They can seem small, but if one of them weren't there on any given day they can make a huge difference in our lives. For example, how many times have we woken up and opened our eyes and just breathed? How many times have we told God thank you for the breath in my lungs? Can you imagine if that breath wasn’t there?
God has blessed me tremendously, he has healed me from my PCOS and given me a son after 16 years of praying for him. I am now at home taking care of him which means I am no longer working my full-time job. We have become a one-income household, which can be really challenging in Hawaii.
Our lives have been changed and we may not have everything we want but we have everything we need. God has found a way to provide for our every need. When I start to lose focus and start to worry about our finances, God reminds me that he will take care of everything. He reminds me of the smallest things like a rainbow which means that he keeps his promises. When that Rainbow first appeared to Noah they were so grateful after waiting so long for a dry day and for somewhere to land where they were able to get off that boat. Can you imagine how they must have felt after so many days on a boat with nonstop rain? During the COVID lockdown, it was so difficult to remain positive and connected to God when the churches were closed and we couldn’t see anyone because we had to stay home. The rate of divorce and suicide went up during this time. It was really challenging, but somehow through all the rain, God continued to show himself through his rainbows.
During this time God guided me to start a small group on Zoom with all my cousins and to create a friend group on messenger where we supported each other through it all. I would watch Father Mike Schmitz on Youtube for mass and pray before my workouts. I started going daily to the Aiea Loop trail to feel close to God. There is a peak where all you see is God’s beautiful creation and feel his breath in the wind so strongly I can’t help but feel close to him there. All these beautiful blessings helped me not only survive but thrive. I lost 67 pounds.
One day I decided to choose God. I choose joy. I chose to trust him and I did. I wasn’t going to let sadness win and when I felt weak I prayed harder. I reached out to my beautiful support group and God shined through every dark cloud.
To be grateful is very important to me. I can’t stop feeling grateful for everything he has given me; my health, my son, my husband, and my beautiful doggy that is still miraculously alive after 15 years. The way that Jacob looks up at me.The way that just by seeing me I can make him smile. How I hold him and he stops crying or being scared. I have learned so much about God’s love, I can’t stop thanking him. The fact that I can hold a beautiful miracle in my arms every day is more than enough for me. I look at my son's beautiful eyes as he looks at me so lovingly. I feel so grateful to have him. I try to enjoy every second I have with him and not let stress or worry a.k.a the Devil steal my joy. I love our Lord and I trust him with everything in my life but knowing Jacob has shown me a new understanding of love.
To love God is to be grateful no matter what you’re going through. There is always a blessing to give thanks for. There is always God behind the scenes blessing you, protecting you, and loving you. Just because you are his beautiful miracle, his beautiful baby that he can't help to just hold and look into your eyes and hold you when you cry or are scared. Let him love you like a baby in his parent's arms. Let yourselves be loved by him. Let our beautiful Mother embrace you and cuddle you when you need her. Let his love shine through every circumstance. Let him love you. I pray that this Thanksgiving you find more blessings than you can count to be thankful for.
by Normie Jean Taylan
When I was introduced to the rosary as a young child, I found it intriguing, but I also dreaded praying it. I was intrigued by its various mysteries, prayers and what I thought was its “power”, but I dreaded praying it because the average 15 minutes it took to pray it felt like such a long time. It was when I was able to, with God’s grace, grow in my faith life and learn about the rosary’s impact on our salvation and my inner peace that my heart started to change about the rosary.
My introduction to the rosary as a child came through my family’s involvement in a Philippines-based ministry in which daily praying the rosary with one’s family was a huge part. Each Saturday, my sister and I would join our mom and her friends in bringing a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to a new family’s home, where with them, we would pray the rosary and various devotional prayers followed by dinner and fellowship. A week later we would return to pray the rosary with the family again, then bring Our Lady’s statue to the next family she would be staying and interceding for over the next seven days. I did not understand it then, but looking back, it was amazing to see the greater sense of peace and unity that a lot of these families had when we returned that following Saturday, as well as hear about how their prayers were answered through Our Lady’s stay with them.
As a very sensitive child who really wanted to please my mom and her friends, I really enjoyed the praise that I got from knowing how to kneel down and pray the rosary at such a young age. But other than feeling that I was obligated to pray the rosary because it was “good for me” and made my mom happy, I did not feel a real desire to pray the rosary, or a true connection to God and to Mother Mary at that time. God and Mother Mary just felt distant, superior and unable to understand me.
In my later elementary school to middle school years, however, various events happened that started to shake my life and my faith. When I was 10 years old, my mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. My mom then promised that in order to be healed from her cancer, she was to pray 2000 Hail Mary’s on one day each month for 20 intentions (two rosaries each intention) for the whole world and for her own healing. We then, as a family with some friends began setting aside a certain Saturday each month for 12 hours of praying (since I thought 15 minutes was long, 12 hours was absolutely crazy!) Yes, it was a challenge, but reading about the vast needs of the world through those intentions and praying those rosaries for them gave me the faith to believe that my prayer to God was making an impact on the world, and most definitely, my mom’s healing.
Two years after my mom’s cancer diagnosis, my dad passed away and it left me feeling very lost and vulnerable. It was also the very first time I saw how fragile life was and how much I needed something or Someone greater than myself and what was in front of me to help me make sense of it all. The daily praying of the rosary that my mom, sister and I did for the repose of my dad’s soul was a great comfort to me at that time. No longer did God feel faraway… I felt that starting with that event in my life, God became a true Father to me Who took me in and Who is continually caring for me, and that Mother Mary, because she is so close to God, was and continues to nurture me in all of these seasons and crosses of life (the passing away of my mom when I was 19, graduating from college, my journey of singleness to my vocation as a wife and mother and its daily challenges, etc.). Praying the rosary both then and now continues to be a great source of consolation because in both joyful times and especially dark ones, it truly feels like I am holding our Blessed Mother’s hand.
Now as a wife and mother in need of continually growing in my conversion and faith life, the closing sentence found at the end of the rosary’s final prayer (the prayer following the Hail, Holy Queen) is one of the truths about the rosary that continually encourage me to pray it:
“Grant that we beseech thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord, Amen.”
When we study and reflect on what the rosary means to us as Catholics, we see that it is scriptural and catechetical—through it, God teaches and assists us in living out and building our faith life and our virtues. When we meditate on the mysteries and see how Jesus, Mother Mary, St. Joseph and the early Church responded, we have a model of how to respond in situations of uncertainty, when others are in dire need, the deeper meaning behind the Sacraments, how to respond in suffering and above all, how much God loves us.
In addition to helping us grow in our faith life and love of God and neighbor, the rosary is definitely a link to the true peace that God alone can give us. Our world and our lives are very busy. Taking the time to intentionally pray the rosary especially “forces” us to slow down, to contemplate, to put aside the distractions and the world for some time in order to make space for this special time with God and with our Blessed Mother. As a person who struggles with anxiety and the self-defeating script that anxious thoughts bring, asking for our Blessed Mother’s intercession and protection regularly by praying the rosary obliterates the fear and evil of these anxious thoughts and always helps me to move forward. There have been too many times to count where I have started a rosary so crushed by my anxiety and finished it feeling completely transformed.
As October is the month of the rosary, we are again challenged to take up this necessary devotion and, if we are already praying the rosary, to pray the rosary daily and with more fervor. In his 2017 article, “Our Lady of Fatima's 3 Secrets: What You Should Know About the Fatima Centennial, Jethro Higgins wrote:
“Our Lady of Fatima urgently desired for all of the faithful to pray daily for the salvation of poor sinners, and for the whole world. That message from Our Mother Mary is a challenge – no matter where you are in your own personal prayer life – to go deeper, to pray often, and with greater fervor.”
Whether it is praying the rosary in parts throughout the day when we are unable to finish the rosary in one sitting, or using apps like Hallow or Laudate and scriptural rosary meditations to dive deeper into each mystery, it is very possible for us to make praying the rosary a priority each day and to dive deeper into this devotion. Also, using picture books on the rosary, especially ones that show an image for each Hail Mary of each mystery are very helpful in fostering in young children an understanding of and love for the rosary.
A telling meme I saw on Facebook stressed the profound importance of the rosary and Mother Mary’s role in our salvation. It was a comic of Mother Mary pulling up people into Heaven, who were clinging for dear life onto these life-sized rosary beads, which she was using to hoist them up from earth into Heaven with. As Catholics and people of faith, I believe we are called to practice our devotion to the rosary and our reliance on Mother Mary (as the path to Heaven and to Jesus) with the same loving trust and ferocity as the people in this comic clung to those rosary beads. May this October be that time we again and with more intentionality, turn to God, take our spiritual health seriously and pray the rosary more frequently and with more devotion. I can assure us that those 15 minutes we spend in praying the rosary will be one of the best ways we will spend our time.
Normie Jean Taylan has been a part of EPIC Ministry since the earlier days of its founding. She has served in the past on the EPIC Core Team, and really contributed much of her gifts and talents to the growth of this Ministry. She also met her husband John Taylan through this ministry, and is now a mother of three, with two beautiful girls, and expecting a son, to complete their growing family of 4. She works full-time as a Program Support Coordinator for Family Education Centers of Hawai'i (FECH). We are so thankful to her as she is a model of prayer and steadfast faith.