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Scenes from my first Christmas

Yes, this is my First Christmas.....as a Deacon of course. Fr. Andrew reminded me and the entire congregation of that, along with the story ...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I thought you were a sinner just like me?

This past week has been just incredible. I am so proud of what I am aspiring to be that I can't help but share the good news with everyone. My wife at times cringes to send me out to run errands, she warns me not to talk to anyone. There aren't any quick pops into almost anyplace. Two events stand out for me this past week.

First on Christmas eve Terry sent me to the IGA to pick up some items to make homemade bread (the same that she brought to our last formation weekend.) I was doing really well for the most part until I met one of my customers Steve. Steve talked to me about his paint projects, and commented about my resignation from the board. I mentioned to him that I am studying to be a deacon in the church and that the studies needed more attention and so I had to resign from the board. His comment was..."Mitch, I thought you were a sinner like me?" and I said..."I am! And this is something I really want to do!" Steve has always been a great customer and a friend, and shared his best wishes for me. Again, his support was very sincere, but I believe that there are some inner questions  that are lingering that will probably pop up some day.

On Sunday, I love going to church with Terry and my folks. We take them to church at Holy Family in Gorham. Following mass someone congratulated me for studying to be a deacon and offered to pray for me. I have said it before, and I'll say it again I am so blessed by the support I am receiving by all. After mass, we went out to eat. After the meal was done another parishioner asked me a question..."So when will we be seeing you in church?", remember I said in my profile sometimes I'm corny, I said "Every Sunday!" I knew what she meant, but I couldn't resist. She was very nice about it, and before you knew it we all spent about an extra 45 minutes talking together.

I never tire from discussing my journey. There is such a sense of pride and joy in me that I really need to share. I'm not really one that loves to talk about himself, but this is different because it really isn't about me. It's about the work of the Lord and the needs of his people. This part of me can't go away. I need to be available out there in the world, and share the Good News! This wonderful lady asked how long will it take to be a deacon, and then said "Please hurry, we really need you!" There is so much of a need out there, and God willing I may be his instrument.



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

So someday you may be a man of the drop cloth?

Yes,  you read that right. I have told you all that I had resigned the school board and my peers on the board secretly arranged a few weeks ago a luncheon gathering to wish me well and recognize me for my service. The local press was there and I told him that my studies to be a deacon in the church has become a greater focus in my life. I have been approached by many who have congratulated me, offered to pray, and wished me the very best.

Today, had to be the most unusual response I have heard yet. I walked into Munce's Konvenience in Berlin where I always pick up a morning paper, Mike a regular there said, "So you're all done on the board, and I heard you are studying to be a minister!" I said "Yes it's true!" So the conversation continued about still working for Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, and I said yes I will still be working full time and that being a deacon will be done after work hours when I complete my studies.

Mike was like everyone I've talked to so far, curious, maybe incredulous, and I believe genuinely supportive. Carl, also a regular there at the store, piped in just about the end of the conversation with this remark..."So you're going to be a man of the drop cloth!" That was without a doubt the funniest comment I have ever heard. I loved it. It really got to me! I had to shake his hand and tell him that it will be in the blog that I am writing. So there you have it, Mitch Couture a man of the drop cloth.  Our Lord has such a great sense of humor, Jesus must love it too!



Sunday, December 26, 2010

Celebrating the Family!

Today at Mass Fr. Mark Dollard our Pastor spoke extremely well as usual. We are so blessed here to have him leading our parishes Good Shepherd/Holy Family. He began with his typical style of relaxing everyone with a joke. Then, in a style I am getting used to is where he gets to the point in a very simple way. He doesn't preach for very long, he has  been quoted as saying "I need to sell my product within 7 minutes". This may not sound right to some, but I get it. You see, I am a salesman by career. I realize very well that information overload doesn't usually get the results. A direct and individual thought will provoke more interest and reflection.

As we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family, Fr. Mark tied in all the readings from Sirach, St. Paul, and the Gospel. Honoring our parents with a patient and kind love, ultimately brings us closer to our Father in Heaven. When we honor those who nurtured us, we grow closer in love to God.

Finally, again in a style of preaching I greatly admire father used two acronyms to bring about his message. First he shared the BIBLE,  basic information before I leave earth, something I had never heard. It rang a bell with what Deacon Greg taught us in class, that we can learn and grow in our relationship with God by reading and trying to understand the scriptures, but not all the answers in life will be found in the Bible.

The last acronym used was FAMILY, Forget About Me, I Love You! Wow, I got it. We need a true unselfish love that gives, and we must always remember that Our Lord Loves Us all!

Today, I wish for all the gift of Love! God Bless you all on this very Blessed Day!

PS: Please pray today for all our young families, the challenges, and the distractions can be overwhelming for some. I pray that they will put family and faith first in their lives!



Friday, December 24, 2010

Music from Christmas Past, Il est ne le Divin Enfant (The Divine Child is Born!)

Merry Christmas to all! I thought I would share this little piece of my heritage with you! God Bless you all on the Blessed Day. I pray with all my heart that Our Mother Mary and Joseph find many that have made room for Jesus to be born!

Adieu mes Amis, Joyeux Noel!


Coos County: November job losses grim - Friday, Dec. 24, 2010

I would ask that everyone today also pray for the unemployed in our county, especially in the Berlin-Gorham area. We are strong, and resilient people, but the burden can become overwhelming, especially during the Christmas Season.

Adieu Mitch

Coos County: November job losses grim - Friday, Dec. 24, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Touched by an Angel!

Before I get started I know I'm dating myself, but I really enjoyed the television series Touched by an Angel. It was a great show that dealt with the ever day life of ordinary people and how God helped people along in their daily lives. Most of the episodes were quite dramatic changes, but sometimes the touches were gentle and subtle signs that God's presence was always there.

Today I received one of those gentle touches. A physical education and a very Christian teacher in the public school system in Berlin sent me card. He wrote a beautiful note I'd Love to share..."Dear Mitch, Congratulations on the direction your life is taking. I'm sure God will bless you as you do his work. Also, thank you for your many years of Service as a School Board member in a time when the economy makes a job like that so much more difficult. You did what you had to do with the interest of the Kids a top priority. Best wishes for the the future and thanks again." Steve Enman.

Needless to say I was very moved by this note. Terry said to me today, " another blog right?" and I said " definitely". The touching part of all of this is that it is so wonderful to know that there are people that get it. What is incredible is the timing of the note that coincides with what I wrote about in "Whisper in the Wind." Another timely word of encouragement directed by our Lord.

It has been an amazing vacation week where the Lord has been reaching out to me in so many ways, and it's only Wednesday. What else will happen this week? Only God knows for sure. Emanuel, God is with us, is manifested daily we just need to be aware that the touches maybe just gentle smiles, a thank you, and a Merry Christmas greeting.

Adieu mes Amis!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

And you my child shall be called the prophet of the Most High!

This was the title of my last paper for the Old Testament class. I researched the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah. I initially tried to overload the paper with facts and information on these two prophets and then during Mass early Sunday morning it hit me. Too much! What was the point? What did I really learn?

I started over, not totally from scratch because the information was extremely useful. I first changed the title from really listening to my morning prayers. I got it! Who is the child to be the prophet of the Most High? We are! By our Baptism we becom Priest, Prophet, and King. I am not diminishing the other two, because my paper relates to being a prophet.

A few things stood out for me. First we have a willing and eager choice Isaiah..."Here I am; I said; send me" Isaiah 6:8, and then Jeremiah...."Ah Lord God!" I said " I know not how to speak; I am too young." Jeremiah 1:6. I could literally see myself in both of the prophets.  At times I am the willing an eager one, and then I can doubt myself and say " Ah, God are you sure about this?"

The next interesting discovery I made was both prophets were touched on the mouth. Isaiah by a seraphim with a burning ember to prurify him, and Jeremiah by the hand of God over his mouth. Hum! Where else do I see this? At Mass by the Celebrant before they procailm the Gospel. Coincidence, no! God prepared them to preach the Word out there and make a change despite their inadaquacies. This actually encouraged me by really not worrying what to say out there, I am learning to let God do the work through me!

Finally I ended the paper with a short reflection from an Advent Meditation booklet written by Fr. Patrick Hannon C.S.C. The booklet is titled Hearts & Voices and the the words that inspired me were these.."And we, who through our baptism in Christ, have been anointed prophets, will with every act of love testify to this truth. The prophet's heart will not be stilled. The prophet's voice will not be silenced."
Hearts & Voices by Fr. Patrick Hannon C.S.C. page 13

Bonjour, Notre Sauveur est proche (Good day our Savior is near)

Adieu mes amis!


Finally I ended with a reflection

The check is in the mail....I mean the final paper was emailed!

Yes! My final paper for the Old Testament class was emailed last night! I finished it off before the Christmas Eve deadline, 2010 according to Deacon Greg. There are no mulligans this time, and quite frankly I know I wouldn't need it. I'm not saying that it would get published anywhere, but I did the time, put in the effort and I like the results. Even the boss (my wife Terry) thought it was good and she noted that the papers are getting better. Go figure! Obviously I needed the extra time in my life afforded me by giving up on something, thanks Fr. Dennis!

The next class for our little group (remember we have room in Plymouth!!!) starts January 27th with our New Testament course. Our instructor is going to be Fr. Robert Biron. Hum, french name maybe a Berlin Boy! Yup, sure is. His dad had a barber shop on main street right next to the the Princess Theatre (Now called TBA). Yes, we are starting a little later than everyone else. We had a couple of conflicts with some including myself so the course was delayed until the 27th. BTW it's been snowing everyday in Berlin!

Bonjour a tous, Good day to all!



Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A whisper in the wind....!

Yesterday I received a whisper in the wind, by way of an email from Deacon Frank Vonesh. Who? Deacon Frank is a recently ordained Permanent Deacon from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.  Apparently someone passed the link for the Diocese's Diaconate website and he looked over my blog. He explained the process he went through and related well to the struggles of writing papers after all those years.

He was extremely kind and offered to all of us Aspirants his encouragement and support.  Voila, our Lord whispered to me today! I mentioned before how I read the Word Among Us daily meditations, and today's readings dealt with Mary hurrying to visit Elizabeth to share and rejoice together. Together they enjoyed mutual support and companionship. This is the passage that really got me to stop and reflect.....
"How important it is that we support and affirm one another in the
same way! Especially in those times when we start to doubt our own
value or ability to do the work which God has called us, the right words
from a trusted companion can make all the difference. Mary and Elizabeth
show us how much we can help each other simply by our reassuring presence.
By listening attentively and by offering words of encouragement, we can help each other embrace the road that God has marked out for us with energy,
enthusiasm, and hope-no matter how daunting it may seem at times."
                                            Word Among Us December 21- Page 45

Christ's whisper to me came twofold, first an unknown supporter in the person of Deacon Frank, and today by reading my daily meditations that reinforced what I read both in the email and the Meditations.  Coincidence, no there are no coincidences in life. I was so blessed to receive a little whisper in the wind of encouragement that was extended to me and to all Aspirants in the Diocese and I know throughout the World. Thank you Frank for that little whisper, and I plan on passing it on to all my brothers out there.

As we become energized by the Lord during this Holy Season, may we all be the bearers of the little whispers of encouragement that we all need.

Adieu mes Amis,



Monday, December 20, 2010

The Nostalgic feel of Christmas past.

Well, time to share a little more about myself as we prepare for the coming of our Savior. This year I celebrated two milestones. First I celebrated my 25th anniversary with Sherwin-Williams. Before I started with this great company I was almost like a wanderer in the desert. I often moved on and on to what I believed would be the best thing for me. Like everything else I had to weather some storms, and enjoyed some great years. I have met some great people, and some not too great people. All in all, I have truly enjoyed my career. It has been a blessing that I have been able to support my family through my work.

On 9/11, yes 9/11 I celebrated my 50th birthday. I actually was in the twin towers in NY at my 40th birthday, a year before the tragedy.  This year was very special. Terry gave me a personal party that I had with family and friends, and yes we topped it off with a campfire to end a perfect day.

So where does the nostalgia come in? Well, if you haven't read my bio I was raised in a french Catholic parish in Berlin's east side. My french Canadian heritage wasn't something I was born with, it was my life. My faith and my heritage is what I lived by. Faith and family were always first in my life. I grew up like most east side children, speaking french, playing hockey (after all Berlin is the original Hockey Town USA), attending Mass at L'Ange Guardian (Guardian Angel), and going to school at L'ecole Ange Guardian. 

Now to the point of this nostalgia. One item that has been missing from this Advent Season and will be at Christmas mass is my french heritage. I know it's difficult, if not impossible to find priest's today who can celebrate in french, but it's the one thing I really do miss. My daughter, who is a lapsed Catholic, called me and asked about french Christmas songs. It really affected two nerves. First that there is still a spark of faith in her working through our Lord. Then it touched my heart in remembering Christmas past.

As I look outside the window today and see the beautiful white snow, yes we do have snow up north, I long for my childhood memories of O Nuit de Paix (Silent Night), and all the other songs and the entire Mass in French. As a child I may have not always felt this way, but as I reflect back I do miss it. I don't necessarily want to go back in time, but I was blessed to have two languages, two heritages, and one great faith!

Joyeux Noel, Bonne Heureuse Annee a tous!

Merry Christmas & a Very Happy New Year to all!



Sunday, December 19, 2010

Celebrating Open House In Berlin

Today we celebrated an open house with all the parish volunteers and  employees. Fr. Mark Dollard has always celebrated with his parishes an open house and from the results of today, I can see why he does this. It was an awesome time to get to know the parish employees, and volunteers in a very informal setting.
        I remember something that Fr. Dennis shared with me and I'm sure with many others, and that is that we must keep in mind that while we are trying to figure out our new leader (Fr. Mark Dollard) he's trying to do the same.

        Fr. Mark looked very pleased toward the end of the afternoon. He made an extremely kind and very heartening comment.  He said ... It's nice to have people around in the rectory. His personal and human side came out loud and clear to me. He loves his ministry, and he also loves and needs that personal friendship without talking business as he so well put.

          Fr. Steve our associate is a very kind and soft spoken priest. Without a doubt this day was as important to him as it was to us. We all received the opportunity to get to know each other a little better.

         My highlights for today were:

  • The smiles on every body's faces.
  • The opportunity to talk with new and old friends
  • The tremendous support I received from so many of them. ( I have been so blessed with support from all the parishioners.)
  • The great food that was provided.
  • But most of all that Fr. Mark and Fr. Steve seemed to feel more and more like family to all of us. (Similar to what is happening in our community of Aspirants)
Bonsoir, Adieu

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Making changes, playing around!

I am enjoying the beginning of my last vacation for the year. I decided today to play around with a few gadgets. I'm not very computer literate but I do love to play around and try to, I guess enhance the blog. I've added some pictures, probably inspired by our last formation weekend. I added a slide show that I thought looked neat, and I've added some news links that I thought people might like to see.

For the past several months I have been reading the Word Among Us each morning. Our parish offers copies for the parishioners. I have loved reading these, for they have inspired me, helped me in my reflection papers, and just got me going on the right path each day. I have opened a link to wau.org, Word Among Us. Please take the time to review, I'm sure you will enjoy.

God Bless


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I got a mulligan and a flashback!

Yes you heard right we all got a mulligan in our Old Testament class. As you may remember the day we got our first papers back wasn't exactly the best day of my life. Actually it wasn't very good at all. Anyways we all got our papers back with a mulligan and a directive to get it right. Yes I believe we were all a little shell shocked by the experience, I know I was. After all I thought I had put my best effort into that paper.

Well I would have to say looking back over my life I vividly and maybe not too fondly remember a similar experience I had in High School. I had an English teacher in High School, Mrs. Piper, who put me through the same experience. Ironically, I felt the same this year as I did back in 1976. She was a very intelligent, and demanding person, who seemed to have an uncanny knack of getting the best out of someone one way or another. She didn't accept good enough, she knew somehow what we were capable of and wanted to bring it out in us. You know, she was right. She challenged me, I worked harder, understood more what was expected, and voila the desired results were obtained.

Were in 2010 and the flashback begins. Once again in my life I am challenged, and pushed to be more than I probably thought capable. Both times after the ego bruising healed and I reflected I knew they were right. The only difference is it didn't take as long to figure it out this time.

Well I knew the expectations had increased and of course the effort, research, etc. was ramped up. I thought I had it right and I reviewed the expectations outline one last time. I guess I received an inspiration, and remembered what Deacon Greg said..."When you think you have it, ask yourself so what?" I did and I didn't like what I had. It wasn't terrible but I really knew that I didn't get to the point. Sometimes working on a single important message is more effective when you try to reflect on what you learned. Call it inspiration, or whatever but I started over again, and I like it. I reviewed the outline and I really feel that I learned something and that I really got my point across.

I'll be typing out the paper and have the boss, Terry, proof it for me and then I'll email it to Deacon Greg this weekend.  Having a second chance is good, but we were reminded today that there aren't any mulligans on the second paper. By the way we all passed on our second try, and I feel good that the second one will be just fine. I'll have to ask Deacon Greg if he is related to a particular retired Enlish teacher in Berlin.

Take care, and Adieu mes amis.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I love campfires!!

Terry and I really loved this past formation weekend, and especially sharing time with our new family. Terry and I both love to go camping and especially enjoy camp fires. We have campfires both at our house, my best friends house and at the campgrounds. Terry and I asked Deacon Greg if he would be open to having a campfire at our last formation weekend. He sounded very open to the idea, not quite as excited as receiving a loaf of homemade bread but it looked promising.

The big appeal to us has been our friendships have grown by just sitting down, sharing stories, jokes, etc. I even had a theological discussion with my french Canadian uncle who is not very kind to catholics. Our children initially thought it would be boring to sit around and talk, yet it didn't take long for them to join in by sitting around the fire. Our circle of fires vary, but one thing is constant. There has never been anytime that someone wasn't welcomed, there was always room for one more, and there are no strangers. We never seem to run out of something to talk about and when the evening comes to a close the silence of the night is very comforting.

So if the answer is yes, we'll all need to probably bring folding chairs, marshmallows, smores, etc. I can't think of a better way to get to know even more of you.

Bonsoir, adieu mes amis.


PS. by the way our next fire is in Berlin at my best friends house on New Year's Eve. I'll take pictures and share them with you, and if any of you are available, remember there's always room for one more. Take care!

I had request to explain what I meant by folding chairs at a campfire. Here you will see my favorite chair at a campfire. They pack and fold nicely, easy to carry around, and they have beverage holders. There isn't a better way of getting to know someone than sitting around a beautiful fire and sharing good times!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Finding Comfort in the silence of the moment......

Another Reflection from our weekend together.

There are many times I find myself drawn to certain words or phrases that I hear, and one in particular stood out for me this weekend. When we strive to encounter Jesus we must be prepared to be comfortable in the silence of the moment. We need to prepare to listen when we have a conversation with Jesus, not always feeling the need to say something. I have found that in my prayer life silence has become as important to me as the spoken prayers I do.

On a human level the first thing I thought about when I heard this was the first date I had with my wife Terry. In the past when I dated I felt uncomfortable with the silent moments that occurred and I thought I had the need to say something. When Terry and I had our very first date, we traveled to North Conway to have supper and probably go dancing or take in a movie. We had our supper together at Horsefeathers and the amazing part was from that first night together, I was very comfortable with the silence of the moment. I felt very much at ease with her. After a great supper, we decided to walk together up and down main street in Conway. We walked for a couple of hours and the time appeared to stand still, and yet two hours had passed. We were able to talk, listen, and share as we began our journey together. I was late in returning Terry back to Berlin, she was living with and caring for her grandmother. Her grandmother stayed up and asked her about the date, and said...."you have my permission to marry this one!"

I was blessed to find such a wonderful partner to share my life with, and I relate this relationship with the one I am having with Jesus right now. I am very comfortable to just listen, and enjoy the silence of the moment. Twenty Eight years ago I was taught a lesson about how wonderful a close relationship really is. This relationship has helped and inspired me to be comfortable with silence as I continue my journey with Jesus.

Tonight when I examen the day, I will work to listen and be open to what our Lord has to tell me in the silence of my heart!

Bonjour mes amis, adieu.


ps: yes this is a day off, I'm working this weekend, and I did learn that we are visual people, this picture gives me a quiet sense of peace and tranquility.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Encountering Christ together!

What a weekend I had and I'm sure you all felt the same way. The ebb and flow of the weekend was so different than the first. We traveled together at a smooth and easy pace all weekend with the ultimate goal of encountering our Lord Jesus Christ. What a presentation by Brother Mark, he opened my eyes and reassured me with what I learned. I learned two things from him this weekend, I learned so much about the various avenues that we have to help us encounter Christ. I was reassured to know that I had and for quite some time now used some of these opportunities in my everyday prayer life.

I started this title with encountering together. I wanted to make a point to start sitting, talking, and getting to know my new family. Terry and I were definitely on the same page with this. As large a group as we are I know it will still take some time to get to meet and be with each one of you. I'm sure we weren't the only ones out there attempting to do the same.

Returning back to the theme of ebb and flow, I sensed a change of pace that many more were looking to sit down talk and share about their lives and journey. I really enjoyed the conversations right up until about 10:40 pm when our little group were the last to say good night.  I am in awe that the feelings and the emotions of being there were very mutual. It's great to share what we have with family who get it, and feel the same way.

I would like to share words, ideas, and thoughts that resonate with me!
Susan you helped create a great sense of family (community by what you started) Bravo!
Pauline you have such a warm smile and a very welcoming personality
Mike and Linda we both share a bond meeting our loved one in a grocery store
Deacon Greg dances so well when given a loaf of bread
It was a pleasure to meet Dana finally!
Geoff you are so funny: Passing with humility, self sanding roads, & lastly the Ordeal
Bob,Chris, Bill, Ken, Deacon Greg it was great taking with you to the end.
Bill I believe I share a passion of our french heritage, Merci Beaucoups mon amis
Sharing the words spoken by our Lord in the Psalms.
Again I read Invited or not God is present, this was presented in another passage, truly God was present among us!
Missing Steve & his Wife, Our community prays for you in unity; our Love, Prayers, and Thoughts are with you constantly!
A special thanks to everyone for the kindness and Love they share.
To my mini family in Plymouth: Tom, Lynn,Steve, Linda we share something very special that Terry and I treasure immensely.
To all of You I wish you a very blessed Advent Season as we continue to prepare to Encounter Christ.

Bonsoir, Adieu ma famille!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Another class almost done!

Last night was the last in class session that we had for our Old Testament course. We all still have another paper to write, but the classroom time for this class is over. So what did I learn from this class.....
  1. The Kingdom of God is at hand
  2. There are no coincidences
  3. Carmody never refers to God with a masculine adjective
  4. There is a reason for every name, and a name means something
  5. There's a lot of drama in the Old Testament
  6. The individuals would make a great reality show today
  7. The prophets would always deal with the here and now, don't look too far ahead
  8. Deacon Greg knows his schtufffffffff!
  9. I Loved understanding how the women played a major role in God's Will
  10. I started confused, and now it's starting to make more sense,...possibly a longer course someday!
  11. Tom had excellent choice in pizza and is a great site leader.
  12. I Love our small classes....we have room for more. Any takers???
  13. The drive home gives me a chance to unwind and dissect what went on.

Well it's time to prepare for this weekend, my wife is baking bread, whole community catechises tonight, and up early tomorrow. See you all tomorrow.

Bonsoir, Adieu.