Any time I accept a speaking engagement, I immediately add that group or parish to my prayer intentions. I have no right to teach or preach in front of a group if I have not prayed for them. It is truly the Holy Spirit and Fire that will inflame the hearts of God's people. My role is to simply be an ambassador of Christ in whatever manner God calls me. The only way I can do that in any significant way is to be a person of prayer. I still have a lot of growing to do in this area, but I continue to seek God's grace and forgiveness for the failures on my part.
It has been a difficult two years on many different fronts. Sadly, many of my speaking engagements were canceled when the pandemic first came on the scene. There were parish missions, retreats, days of recollection, and a couple of workshop presentations all on my calendar. In the blink of an eye they were all removed. I was especially sad when we canceled the retreat with the diaconate community of the Diocese of Des Moines. I always appreciate the privilege to gather with my brother deacons and their wives.
I was able to get a number of engagements back on my calendar for 2021. Unfortunately, I also had to cancel several commitments when I contracted COVID in mid-August. I never imagined it would take me months to recover, but it did. More recently, I have turned down a few speaking requests to limit my exposure to other potential ailments. My wife was diagnosed with cancer while I was fighting off COVID. She is now undergoing chemotherapy treatments, and I am doing my best to not bring any type of illness into the house. Navigating the waters of these last two years has been a hit and miss proposition in a variety of ways.
The retreat advertised above has been on my calendar for quite some time. I did not cancel this one because it coincides with the approaching end of my wife's chemo treatments. I am hoping that we will begin to head toward healing and wholeness at that point in time. I also have a fondness in my heart for both the Cathedral Guild and the Bishop's Guild, and I did not want to cancel this commitment. These two groups supported my work for years when I was the Director of Pastoral Ministries for the Diocese of Cheyenne. I am grateful that I can give this small gift back to them for their dedicated service to the Church.
As you may have noticed in the title of this blog post, this is the only speaking engagement I have on my calendar for 2022. I am contemplating getting back into it a little more fully beginning with the Season of Lent. Lent has always been a busy time for me in regard to receiving speaking requests. As I look at the calendar, I see that Ash Wednesday is on March 2. That time will roll around before we know it. Thus, the time to begin planning is now.
Let me throw this out there. If your parish or group would like a Day of Recollection, a weekend retreat, or simply a one hour presentation at an event during Lent, feel free to contact me. (E-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org) I will tentatively start accepting a limited number of requests within Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Speaking engagements need to be within a reasonable driving distance at this point. What is reasonable? Let's put it at about four hours for a weekend engagement. This would allow travel as far north as Casper, Wyoming, as far west as Rawlins, Wyoming, as far east as Sidney, Nebraska, and as far south as Pueblo, Colorado.
(Once my wife gets a clean bill of health, I will then begin accepting more requests. I do not want to get on a crowded airplane until we reach the point where she is in less danger of catching something from me.)
Someone recently asked about the possibility of me leading a parish mission. This would currently only be feasible if you are located within about an hour (75 minute max) drive from Fort Collins, Colorado. A parish mission includes me preaching at all of the weekend Masses, and then giving three nightly presentations. I want to be able to commute back and forth from home. That is why I am limiting the distance to a certain geographic area.
If you are in doubt about whether or not to ask me to come speak to your parish or your group, contact me and let's discuss it. What do you want to achieve? Am I a good fit to help make that happen? Do I have the ability to travel to where you are located? These are things we can hash out pretty quickly.
I simply provide this information to let you know of my current situation and limited availability. Eventually, I hope to expand my availability immensely. Once that happens, I will be sure to let you know.
Have a wonderful finish to your Advent journey!