By John Rieping | All rights reserved | Published 14 Sept. 2013 in The Madera Tribune
Several months ago, a fellow Maderan asked that I dedicate some of my columns to answering questions posed by readers. I heartily agreed with the suggestion and then, most conscientiously, procrastinated.
But that ends… later. Because I can't offer such columns without questions. I have had some in the past, but I doubt anyone wants me to keep re-answering them.
So until the end of 2013 here's my offer. If you have a Christianity-related question on theology, philosophy, history, or culture, send it to me via my website (http://wambly.weebly.com) or the office of The Madera Tribune. If your question is published by me and I know your name and mailing address, I will send a gift card for St. Marello Bookstore (www.marellobookstore.org) in Madera.
Any answers I give will be based on my own imperfect understanding and knowledge. Fallibility is guaranteed. If I'm totally stumped, I will seek out an expert on the subject and pass on the reply. Imagine that? Actual journalism!
Tell your plans
On a related note, I would gladly publish information about upcoming local Christian events, whether Protestant or Catholic, in this column. I would prefer the details be sent to me via my website, but if they're given through the Tribune please specify they are for my column. I will also need a contact name and telephone number (or email) that I can share with those who want more information.
I have been asked to spread the word of a local men's conference organized by Catholic Men of Faith for 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 12 at Holy Spouse's Hall, 310 North I St.
Speakers will be Matthew Arnold, Steve Ruda, Rick Sarkisian, and Mike Haddock. Mass will be celebrated by the Rt. Rev. Armando Ochoa, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fresno. Breakfast and lunch will be provided.
For the record, I'm planning on attending myself, and I'll gladly lend you my ear there. Just be sure to return it. I only have one spare.
The conference cost is $25 at the door or $20 for those who register by Oct. 6. Those who bring a teenaged son with them only need to pay $10 more for the son's registration.
For information, call Hector Uribe at 474-9326, Chris Post at (209) 617-6683, or Bruce Simmons at 706-1160.
Ask for prayers
The same local association, Catholic Men of Faith, started a prayer network Wednesday. Anyone, regardless of religion, can request prayers from the group's members by visiting www.catholicmen.org/prayer-network/.
Does your church or club have a prayer chain? Let me know and I'll share your contact information here as well.
The columnist's aunt, Sister Conception Lozano of the Company of Mary, holds her 2-year-old brother Rico. She professed her vows of consecration to God a few couple of weeks before he was born and more than 60 years ago. She died Sept. 5, 2013.
Photograph courtesy of the Lozano Family.
My Japanese aunt
My earliest memories of my "Tia" (aunt) Connie were of her visits to my grandmother's home in Fresno. She would always have exotic gifts from Japan, where she taught as a missionary Sister of the Company of Mary. I enjoyed the seaweed crackers and the squares of colored origami paper with instructions for folding them into animals and other shapes. It didn't seem strange to have a Mexican aunt who was, in my eyes, Japanese. She was family.
Sister Conception loved her decades as a teacher in Japan, and I am sure it was only obedience to her superiors that brought her back to California for retirement. She saw her latest assignment as another opportunity to serve and used her time at the retirement convent to minister to elderly sisters.
I last visited her a decade ago at Viña de Lestonnac Convent in Temecula after leaving Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon -- where I had taken temporary three-year vows. She had just begun her time at her new home herself and missed her missionary activities. Yet she encouraged me during my peaceful stay before I completed my journey back to Madera.
She died about 5 p.m. Sept. 5. For years, she abandoned to God's mysterious providence the gift of her great mind, which Alzheimer's disease slowly shrouded.
Rest at last, tia.
"Death be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so, / For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow, / Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
"From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, / Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow, / And soonest our best men with thee do go, / Rest of their bones, and souls delivery…
"One short sleep past, we wake eternally, / And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die."
-- John Donne