Monday, February 4, 2019

He Saw His Shadow

As He gazed around at everything surrounding Him - people - daylight - vegetation - ground - He saw His shadow.  Stretched out there before Him - His likeness - crawling out from His feet - slowly meandering away from Him.  Easy for all to see - the two of them - the One created by God Almighty - the other - a darkened image of who He might be.  Looking upon either - revealing only the shape - not the inner substance - the heart - mind - soul - the potential of a life lived well - the hopes and dreams - the possibilities.  Shadows fail - always - to reveal the Truth - darkened reflections of a shell - plant - animal - mineral - all casting  their own shadows - painting the surface of the surrounding earth with darkened shapes - masks of a reality - unknown.  

Not the shadow of Punxsutawney Phil, the world-famous meteorologist/groundhog - rather the shadow of the One who gave everything - for you - for me - that we might have life and live it  to the fullest.  To appreciate His shadow - understand what it represents - one must know the One who cast the shadow.  His name is Jesus - waiting for each of us - to answer His call - to come close to Him - to learn who He is - how much He loves us.  It only takes a second - He will come - you only have to invite Him into your life. 

Deacon Dale 

Monday, January 28, 2019

Rites Of Passage

A rite is a ritual of various natures observed by many different groups.  Some rites are religious in nature - baptism - confirmation - marriage - ordination.  Other rites are secular observances - reaching puberty - birthdays - coming of age - graduation - joining various groups.  All rites confer a change in status - observe a transition in one's life - recognizing a new period - a beginning or end.  Throughout everyone's life - all will experience  these rites of passage.  Not always recognized - birth and death - for all people - two rites of passage that all will experience. In the world view - births a rite to be celebrated - death a rite to be mourned.  In people with religious beliefs - death should be celebrated as the next step in one's spiritual life - reaching heaven - getting closer to their eventual goal - attainment of a completeness of their life.  For those with spiritual beliefs - death is not to be feared - rather expected.  

God created the world and all that is in it - that which we can see - things not visible to the naked eye.  No one can see atoms and molecules - with the aid of instrumentation - readily viewed.  All can smell the freshness of the morning air - none can see it.  Most can hear the sounds of nature - never view able.  So many things that exist in the world - intangible - untouchable - physically out of reach - grasped only by our minds and intellect.  For those who believe in a life after death - belief that once conceived - life eternal - ongoing - changed but never ending.  All will share these rites - embraced - and experienced - one life at a time.

Deacon Dale 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Walking To A Different Beat

I have a lot of people that I know who are different from the main stream world - doing their own thing - in their own way - walking to a different beat of the drum.  What is interesting - they are the ones that I prefer to be with.  In fact - as I think about it - my entire family is that way - each of us - using different thought processes - arriving at the same conclusion - the majority of the time - often in loud voices.  As my cousins like to say - we are not arguing - we are just Italians and we talk very loud - with passion.  Passionate - definitely - for different things - work - sports - relationships - faith.  As I ponder the people in my life - those who have had a major influence - living or dead - the majority - were different.  Many would call them - weird - stubborn - arrogant - laid back - over the top - someone most would avoid.  It is from these people that I have learned the most - intellectually - spiritually.  All of my brothers and sisters - my wife and sons - friends - at one time or another - real pains in the rear - but all of them have added real value to my life.  They are the ones who have shaped me into the person that I am today - all of us - just a little bit different from the others.  Those most influential - people that I will never forget. 

Walking To A Different Beat 

Jesus - definitely was different from all the rest - did things that were misunderstood - went against the flow - swam up river - walked against the winds of time - teaching those who would listen - how to do the same - to go - not as the world goes - but against the common - popular flow.  Too many - comfortable with what is - seduced by the easy - popular - politically correct - doomed to uneventful lives.  Following Jesus - always a challenge - not an easy task - many barriers to climb over - always defending that which cannot be seen - walking - not blindly - but by faith alone.  Faith in God - His Son - His Words - His promise - that He will always be there - at our side - as we walk with Him - to a different beat.

Deacon Dale 

Friday, January 18, 2019

R.I.P. Father Jerome Zalonis M.I.C.

Thursday - January 17, 2019 - the angels and the people of God cried at the news of the death of Father Jerome Zalonis MIC - fondly known as Father Jerry.  Ordained on May 23, 1959 - along with his twin brother - Father John Zalonis - Father Jerry served the Catholic communities of believers in numerous locations - his final assignment at St. Patrick Parish in Yorkville, Illinois.  In his 60 years of priesthood - Father Jerry laughed - cried - comforted more people of all ages than can be counted.  He will be missed by all who knew him.  My first encounter with Father Jerry was in June 1988 - newly assigned to St. Mary Church in Plano, Illinois and St. Patrick Mission in Bristol, Illinois.  I was nervous - a deacon candidate about to meet his new pastor for the first time.  Opening his office door at St. Mary's rectory - my nervousness completely disappeared as I gazed at his darkly bearded face - an almost mirror image of my own darkly bearded face.  At least he approved of beards - and after asking his one question - what did I preach on - a large smile and a laugh of approval - the beginning of a long friendship - he serving as my vesting priest at my ordination as a Permanent Deacon.  Together - especially at St Patrick Mission - we built a parish community with numerous new programs - reaching out to the community - eventually constructing a new parish church in Yorkville - saw it officially designated as a parish - shedding 117 years of Mission status on February 15, 2002 by Bishop Joseph Imesch DD - Bishop of Joliet-in-Illinois Diocese.  

Father Jerry at His 50th Anniversary of Ordination

Father Jerry was not afraid to offer correction to anyone who needed it - always with a smile and words of encouragement.  Shortly after my ordination he politely told me to quit reading my homilies - instead to speak from my heart with the knowledge and love that he knew I had for Our Lord.  Needless to say - my homilies improved very quickly - as did the length - a fact that became a private joke between us.  

I am thankful that we were out east at Thanksgiving of 2018 - a time when my wife and I were able to visit him - to spend time talking about the ministry that we shared between the three of us - attending one final Mass together.  His smile - as seen above - permanently embedded in our hearts - he will never be any farther than our hearts and memories.  

Rest in Peace - Good and Faithful Servant
Deacon Dale 

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Felice anno nuovo - Feliz año nuevo - Bonne année - Happy New Year

No matter how you say it - welcome to 2019 and all that is waiting for you to experience.  Ending one year - leaving behind both happy and sad memories - propelling ourselves into a new year - a fresh start - new beginnings - new challenges - another chance to do the right thing.  The past is the past - that is where it belongs.  There are very few things that can be undone - we cannot go back in time to correct our errors - moving forward we can attempt to avoid repeating mistakes - changing our ways - seeking other paths and directions for our lives.

Zakochany aka Zako (Our 3rd Keeshond)

In this New Year of 2019 - all things are possible - with God.  With Jesus at your side - you can do and achieve so much.  With a smile on our face - we look at the New Year and all the possibilities that exist.

Happy New Year
Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas

Yes Virginia - there is a Saviour - today across the entire world we celebrate His birth - the fact that God humbled Himself and became a mortal - being born in a manger - in a stable - wrapped in swaddling clothes - no refined clothing for Him - the One who was to Come - into the world - to save us from Our sins.  We rejoice - we praise Him - the Author of LIfe - Emmanuel - God with Us - the Prince of Peace - the Lord of Lords - Our God and King.

Into this world He came - not as a soldier - rather as a Warrior - fighting against Satan - battling the evils of the world - to bring us - Christmas Joy.  As we gather today - in church - at home - with family and friends - in our own ways - following our customs - cultural expressions of joy - we acknowledge Jesus - as Our Lord.  May the Blessings of this Christmas Season fall upon all - that those who have ears may hear -  that those who have eyes - may see - the Wonders that our God has reigned upon all of us. 

Merry Christmas
Deacon Dale 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Pilgrimage A GIft From God

I was recently asked what the value of pilgrimage was - did many people go on pilgrimage - why do I promote pilgrimage so aggressively.  My introduction to pilgrimage is fairly recent - beginning in January of 2010.  At that time a friend who was in the Diaconate Formation program informed me that there was an opportunity for deacons and their wives and deacon candidates to go on pilgrimage to Israel - The Holy Land - to travel as a group of deacons.  Having been urged by my pastor - "you must go to the Holy Land" - I followed his advice and jumped at the opportunity to participate in my first pilgrimage.  Up to that point - my wife and I had already been introduced to international travel for the previous eleven years - so we were comfortable traveling to Israel. Having already visited Denmark - Poland - Italy - England - Ireland - Spain numerous times - going overseas did not concern us.  We were always open to exploring new opportunities to discover more of this awesome world - its cultures - peoples.  Our initial travels were always on our own - traveling by ourselves - at our pace - going wherever we wanted - nothing to hinder our desire to explore - follow any whim or impulse - going with the moment - unscheduled - unarranged.    

Wensleydale - Yorkshire Dales, England  "Home of the Metcalfes"

Going on pilgrimage - most often is a group experience - flying together - traveling with a guide - in a bus - following a predetermined schedule and timeline.  Initially we had to adjust to this style of  travel - what we learned is that you never turned down a wrong road - never got lost - always had a place to eat and sleep - companions with whom you could share the experience. Thus our interest in leading others on pilgrimage became a priority as a ministry as a deacon and chaplain.  Over the course of the past eight years - we have led some twenty pilgrimages.  Some as short as one day discovering local sites - others as an overnight experience - still others as eight - nine - fourteen days in length.  Our groups have been as small as four and as large as fifty-six. Each experience has always added value to ourselves and those who have traveled with us. 

Poland - Convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy - St. Faustina Kowalska

For ourselves - whenever we travel on pilgrimage - focusing on God's presence everywhere we  travel - in the churches and palaces - in the peoples we travel with and those we meet - the stories we hear and those we share - we learn and grow both in historical and spiritual knowledge.  In hearing stories about these special people and places - we become inspired in our own lives.  Most pilgrimages - experienced by the majority of people - are very similar to any other vacation trip - international flights usually in coach class - decent meals - local cuisine - three and four star hotels - air conditioned buses - trained and licensed tour guides.  The main difference with a pilgrimage is the focus is more on the religious - spiritual aspect of life. Visiting places where well known religious leaders - saints - prophets - teachers lived and worked - seeing the churches and structures - places associated with them and their lives is normally the main focus - blending interesting secular sites in as well. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization - over 300 million people go on pilgrimage each year - the desire to visit religious and spiritual sites fueling tourism growth. 

100 Kilometer Marker - Camino de Santiago - Getting Close To Santiago

On the very old and popular Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain - one of the top three religious pilgrimages - over a quarter of a million people travel yearly - mostly on foot - the 780 kilometers (500 miles)  to the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago, Spain. In fall of 2013 my wife and I walked from Pamplona to Santiago - approximately 400 miles over the course of five weeks ourselves.  That was an individual pilgrimage for us - the two of us - by ourselves - no group - following a guide book and finding food and beds along the way - trusting that God would lead us to both when needed.  For thirty some days we walked mostly in silence - meeting pilgrims from some twenty-four countries - all doing the same. We meditated - prayed - sang songs - experienced God in all the simple things in life as we walked.  In one hundred degree temperatures - in gentle rain - walking westward always into the sun - starting often in foggy cool mornings - a cafe con leche and piece of toast to start the day - we walked.  In those very quiet private times we drew ourselves closer to God - an experience which cannot be adequately described - one of those things that you just have to experience for yourself.

2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage Group - People from the USA - Israel - London

The groups that we have led on pilgrimage are as varied as the people themselves. We have never had any single group from any one specific location - religion - ethnicity - travel with us. Although a Catholic group in focus we have always welcomed and have had non Catholics travel with us. The one common thing that we have shared is that each of us is still seeking a deeper understanding - knowledge of God and the part we play in that relationship.  Initially as strangers - within one or two days at most - we become a family - sharing meals - lives in common during our time together.  It is not unusual for strangers to develop strong bonds and relationships because of a pilgrimage.  Numerous people who have traveled with us have become very fast friends with someone who was on that same pilgrimage.  Everyone - on every pilgrimage - has thanked us for arranging their experience - thanking us for their eyes being opened by God to all that He has to offer - specifically through each other.  What might you experience on a pilgrimage?  That depends all on you and what it is that you are searching for - we don't have the answer - it is completely up to you to experience a pilgrimage for yourself - to experience it as A gift from God.

For more information on our pilgrimages - where we have gone and where we plan to go - please visit DeaconTravel - CaminoWakers Ministries. 

Deacon Dale 

Adventing We Will Go

Adventing - as in actively participating in the various offerings of the season of Advent.  Unlike Lent which has a very penitential flavor - Advent is much more a season of JOY - reflecting on how good we are - how we can become better.  In Holy Scripture we read that when God created the world and all that was in it - He looked around and was very pleased - as everything was GOOD. Not something - not many things - rather ALL things. The ground that we walk upon - the sea that we swim in - the air that we breathe - the animals that we play with - the people who populate every corner of a round world.  ALL was GOOD.  Simply stated WE are good - some better than others - many good - in different ways - to various degrees - but as THE people of God - whether we acknowledge Him or NOT - we are all basically good.  That alone is something worth being joyous about.  During this four week period we have listened attentively to those who lead - attempting in one way or another - to help us see what truly matters. Not our sins - nor our faults - but the goodness inside - that guiding light - placed there before our eyes.

Inside each of us is an ember that glows - the love of a God and His Son we should know. In this season of Advent we go about our days - seeking ways to improve - to be better than we are.  When these days are ended and Christmas is upon us - we will celebrate the birth of Our Lord and the gift that God gave us.  These days will be full - hopefully not those of stress - rather happiness and cheer - for that - we will be blessed.  In eight more days that One day of the year will be upon us - filling all of us with hope and love and the grace of our God.

May Your Advent Be Blessed
Deacon Dale 

Friday, November 23, 2018

Ireland Pilgrimage

2019 Ireland Pilgrimage - an 8-Day pilgrimage - Daily Mass - Dublin to Shannon - Knock Shrine where Mary appeared to many - Trinity College and The Book of Kells - St. Patrick Anglican  Cathedral in Dublin - Kilkenny Castle - St Patrick Catholic Cathedral in Armagh - Ballintubber Abbey - Blarney Castle - Cliffs of Moher - Rock of Cashel - Croagh Patrick - Down Cathedral in Downpatrick - Corcomroe Abbey. Irish Shrines - Castles - Pubs - Spiritual and Secular visits. Dublin - Belfast - Galway.  Optional side trip to visit the Guinness Storehouse and sample a pint of Guinness. Reserve your place today with a $250 deposit.  **Trip Insurance extra.  For details please visit  DeaconTravel Ministries or call 630-334-5065.

Deacon Dale 

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Announcing A New Pilgrimage

Praying That All Families Have An Enjoyable Day
Together Celebrating The Blessings They Share

Thankful For Our Awesome 2018 Holy Land Pilgrimage
And Announcing Our 2019 Ireland Pilgrimage

Yes - Just back from our Holy Land Pilgrimage - Announcing a new pilgrimage!  We have made arrangements for an Ireland Pilgrimage for October 27 - November 3, 2019.  For this pilgrimage we will be using a new travel partner who has promised us an excellent visit to Catholic Ireland.  We will Leave and return on a Sunday which allows those who still work the ability to be gone from work for nine consecutive days while only missing five work days.

Registrations are now being accepted - please contact me for registration details either by phone:  1-630.334.5065 or email at:

Deacon Dale