Sorry for the week long silence. I was away in Columbus and then had to attend Matt Peterson's funeral. I'm just catching up with office work.
Matt was a very inspiring guy who led our Nicaragua Trip to Hogar Belen--an orphanage in Managua run by Mustard Seed Communities.
Some Matt stories:
Matt was painting the tin roof of Hogar Belen's open air structure. We started very early in the morning because it just gets way too hot. At 10AM we usually quit, but Matt decided to stay up on the roof to finish the job--he only had a small spot left to finish. Here's the conversation I had with him:
Mike: "Matt, your neck is getting really red up there. If you're gonna stay up there you better reapply some sunscreen. Here. But seriously, you should stop...it's really too hot."
Matt: "Thanks (applies sunscreen). I'm just gonna finish this spot."
Mike: "What's that smell?"
Matt: "Yeah I smell it too. (Looks down) Oh shit! You're right I do need to get down from here. My workboot has just melted into the roof!"
I proceeded to help him cut his workboot off of the roof. It smelled like a rotten potato.
Recently one of Matt's doctors moved into hospital housing. She told Matt that she was living on the 37th floor.
Matt quipped: "is it a walk-up?"
Matt's college roommate is a priest and he did a wonderful job with the funeral homily. He told an outstanding story of how some homeless man had gotten a hold of his name and called their room. Matt insisted that the two of them go to the rest stop he was calling from and try to help him. They sat with him and talked with him and scrounged enough money together to put him up in the econolodge for a night or so. That story typifies Matt. He was a huge contributor to our homeless shelter at St. Paul the Apostle, and had an undying love for the children of Nicaragua.
Recently, Matt's clearly favorite child from Nicaragua, Carlos (pictured above) died of Leukemia. I have an undoubtedly clear image of Carlos running up to Matt at the Pearly Gates grabbing him by the hand and dragging him into heaven, berating God for even considering a moment in Purgatory for Matt, who often commented that he wasn't perfect and far from a Saint. I doubt that God could refuse the pleas of a little Nicaraguan boy with Down's Syndrome who often exhausted all of us, but for whom Matt always had a spare hour.
Today, I truly believe that Matt has an eternity to spend loving Carlos and vice-versa. May Matt's soul and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
And you out there...say a prayer for Matt's mom Charlotte, who undoubtedly raised a fine young man who lived an exemplary life that she should be very proud of.
Your humble blogger is Mike Hayes, a well-known expert in the world of young adult ministry (20s and 30s) in the Catholic Church. Mike is the author of Googling God (Paulist, 2007) where he explores both the chaotic world that young people live in and their religious reactions to that world. He also explores the age of instant gratification and how churches can respond to the needs of the young adult age by using technology alongside more traditional ministry methods.
Mike founded the award winning BustedHalo.com® in 2001 and continues to contribute to it as the editor of their catechetical section appropriately named Googling God.
Recently, he left BustedHalo® to focus on more direct ministry with young people at St Joseph University Parish as a Campus Minister for the South Campus at the University at Buffalo.
He has only two loves: his adorable wife, Marion and a nine pound chihuahua named Haze, who still find him amusing enough to let them live in their home.