Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

October 15, 1971

This was the beginning of the People of Praise community – a very important day for thousands of people.  Not all of those people were yet born on the day, but it was the ground-breaking for a new “mansion” in the Kingdom.

What began with 29 people in South Bend, Indiana, United States, has grown to “2,900 people in 21 branches across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean”!  The rate of growth is no small thing; neither is the spread across North America.

I am humbled by the scope of the Father’s work, yet thrilled to be a part of it all.  It’s helpful to keep in mind that the community IS a WORK OF GOD!  The following are examples of how that work is taking place in Northern Virginia.

The past week we had several celebrations.  One was the annual picnic last weekend – the Father allowed the weather to be “picture perfect”.

Children enjoying the Moon Bounce at Nottoway Park, during the Community Picnic

Animated conversations took place

Grilling of burgers and "dogs" filled the Autumn air with the odor of promise

And the children delighted in the candy when the "Pig flew"

The men celebrated on Monday night at the Ridenours’ house.  Both the host and hostess were confined to bed for various reasons, but they saw no reason to relocate the celebration.  Heroic hospitality is sometimes displayed in the People of Praise – this was an example.

The women’s celebration was held at Good Shepherd Church with outstanding desserts lovingly prepared by sisters and beautiful decorations provided by several women.  One of these sisters stayed till the last decoration was in place then had to return home with a migraine headache.  Another who is the expectant parent of two young children, stayed and ensured all was in readiness.  Later that night, she was up for hours with a sick child and she herself came down with a virus.  More heroic service.

Sisters enjoyed generous times of fellowship, praise and worship, a newsy history of the community delivered by handmaid Barbette Brophy, and a time of “standing-up” if you fit certain categories.  The stand-up portion was for things like:  Which of you has lived in household?  Who has ever attended Trinity school?  Who in this room came from the John the Baptist community in San Francisco?  Have you visited another branch?  (two branches?  three?  up to eight?  One sister was left standing.)

Music ministry leads us in "Love So Strong"

Afterward, there were two skits, one that revealed sisters learning valuable lessons in their group and the other a “final return” of the POP tarts – a lip-sync trio of Nanci Panos, Barbette Brophy and Maria Elliott.  This skit ended with the POP Tart concept being passed on to the next generation of sisters – Theresee McNichol Rosenthal, Julia Fraga Shek, and Rebecca Feeks.  Glory!

Patty Whelpley, Cathy McAleer, Julie Rubio, and Carolyn Bassett

The POP Tarts LIVE

Do they still have the "old sparkle"?

Gals, it's time to "pass the baton on" to the next generation!

Welcome the HIP ...


Sisters! Glory to God!

Finally, last evening, my husband and I were literally on our way to a “date night”.  Stopping to write a note, we answered a phone call.  It was our neighbors one street over who are also in the POP.  They asked if we had dinner plans and we said “yes” but do you want to join us?  They were ready to go momentarily so we all met at a local restaurant for an unexpected shared meal.  The evening was very uplifting to us all and could be considered one of the multitude of blessings we find together in the People of Praise.

Happy Anniversary, People of Praise community!


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Our Parish Deacon

So much for posting once a week.  I had so many pressing things to do this past week.  The Pastor was away on a trip and the parish was preparing for a big events this weekend: the Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate for our (new) parish Deacon Cong T. Nguyen and 15 other men from various parishes.

Yesterday, January 15, 2011, Deacon Cong, and his classmates were ordained by Bishop Paul Loverde, for service in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arlington.  The Permanent Diaconate involves a 5-year preparation period with significant commitments such as every other weekend classes.  They are training to assist the Bishop and priests in several duties including Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals, preaching, and more.  All of these men have wives and families.  Our deacon and his wife are very active at our church, St. Philip’s.

This ordination is a “Big deal” being the first to occur in over 20 years!  Held in the beautiful Cathedral of St. Thomas More, the event was inspirational.  The Diocesan Choir sang beautifully, sometimes accompanied by organ or chimes, and sometimes acappella.  The Cathedral literally swelled with sound whenever the prayers or hymns were sung – everyone present wanted to be there to praise and thank God!   This occasion showed me what Church can and ought to be!

Later in the day, the parish joined with Cong and his family at the 5:30 Sunday Vigil Mass where they and friends from all over the country celebrated.  It was an extraordinary occasion for which I had responsibility to coordinate several details including a program and a visit by the Vietnamese Choir from Holy Martyrs Catholic Church in Arlington.  The Mass, which was bilingual in part, went well and was followed by a bountiful reception that I attended thankfully with no special responsibility.

It was very touching and exciting to me to be a part of this great event in the Church of Arlington Diocese and the life of my associate, Cong, and his family.  Here are some photos from these events.

Deacon Cong-Tru Nguyen receives the Book of Gospels from Bishop Loverde

Arlington Diocesan Deacon Class 2011

Bishop Paul Loverde and Deacon Cong-Tru Nguyen

Cong at reception with father (from Vietnam), wife and mother-in-law

Ordination reception - Cong-Tru with the Elliotts


Singing the Entrance hymn at Mass of Thanksgiving

Left to right, Cong's priest uncle, Cong, Father Kevin Walsh, permanent deacon friend from PA, and priest brother joined to celebrate

Our deacon preaches for the first time!

His wife and son join Parish in singing, "We are Sent into the World"

Seraphim Choir from Holy Vietnamese Martyrs Catholic Church

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Drip, drip, drip

AMAZING GRACE (2006) – John Newton says:

“God sometimes does His work with gentle drizzle, not storms. Drip. Drip. Drip.” (a quote from a great movie we recently enjoyed)

Lately, we have had the usual array of challenges in the Elliott household.  Some are from within: selfishness, illness, sloth (or laziness), or pride leading to impatience and irritability and others from outside: unfortunate choices of others, unrest and catastrophes throughout the nations, and perpetual construction on the beltway.  Then there are the effects of evil in the form of hatred and bigotry and temptations.

Yep, you could become pretty low if you keep facing downward and inward.  But recently, John, the boys, and I attended an Action evening of food and praise.  The leader said, “You need to raise up your eyes to look for [God].”  And sure enough, there is an adventure about to begin at 8331 Toll House Road.

In the People of Praise, one of the ways we express our life in common is to form Christian households.  In our family of seven, we have had many visitors, borders, even a temporary joint household [Harris-Elliott], and house-sitters.  Now, we are about to start our own household with Miss Sharon Southard, a single lady from the Northern Virginia branch.   She and we are in the process of preparing for a move-in during the week of Thanksgiving!  In many ways, Sharon has been like part of the family for 20 years.

Childcare queen - Miss Sharon "Boing Boing"

Sharon giving the boys Mr. Whippy t-shirts

We are looking for many new ways to live well.  Having Sharon move in to the household makes a real BRIGHT SPOT in the sometimes humdrum (or worse, when you aren’t choosing to be positive) collective life!   She brings a sense of humor, love for playing games and watching sports (wow!) and love for humanity with her.  It will be nice to have a lady around the house again while the girls are off at the university.  With the holidays approaching, it’s a blessing to recall how many we have shared over the years.


Sharon & Grandpa join in singing, “O Come Let Us Adore Him” 2009


We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.  ~Frederick Keonig

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Visitors to Washington, D.C.

Living about 13 miles from the capitol of the United States of America has its benefits.  Recently, we were honored to host two nice, young men at our home who were in town to see the nation’s capitol.  Flat Stanley came to us from South Bend Indiana, and Fernando from Quito, Ecuador.  They arrived for a visit on Sunday, and John and I took them both on a whirlwind tour of D.C.

As you will soon see, we hit the big tourist spots like the Washington Monument, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and Smithsonian museums.  Tragically, the pictures in front of the White House and next to the African bull elephant in the National Museum of Natural History did not turn out.  Happily, many other shots did.  The most important thing was Fernando and Flat Stanley got to visit a lot of very interesting places.

National Museum of Natural History

Maria, Flat Stanley, and Fernando at the Capitol

Driving by the Washington Monument on Constitution Avenue

We ended the afternoon at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where we viewed all of the chapels and main church.

At the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception


John and Fernando ready to go into the Shrine

Chapel of our Lady of Guadalupe

Chapel of our Lady of Sorrows

On the campus of The Catholic University of America

Then we enjoyed a meal back in Virginia with my father (a native Ecuatoriano) and mother, before heading back to catch the Lincoln Memorial and Iwo Jima Marine monument in the moonlight.

With the Elliott family at the home of Abuelito and Abuelita

Visiting the Lincoln Memorial at night

Excited to see the Iwo Jima Marine Corps Memorial at night

Fernando left us the next morning, but Stanley stayed another day which enabled him to stop by Trinity at Meadow View and the grocery store with Maria.  Travelling is SUCH fun!


After dropping kids at school

Even going to Shopper's Food Warehouse makes Stan happy!

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What a joy to celebrate the covenant of the People of Praise!  In a way, every anniversary reminds us of the day we began, but each time, the making of the covenant recreates the community again.  We joined together in praise, worship, and rejoicing that the People of Praise has existed since October 15, 1971.  We gathered from “NoVA” and “PoVA” (the Northern Virginia branch of course, and a good number of guests from the Portland Vancouver branch as well), as members of the community, their children, and in some cases extended family and friends.  Our ecumenical, Christian community came into existence on that day when 29 men and women – of various Christians denominations, freely chose to covenant themselves to one another before the Lord and the world, forming a new entity – the People of Praise.

NoVA (and PoVA guests) enjoying the Covenant sharings

Our joy was greatly multiplied by the decision of four vibrant adults – who have been serving the Lord as fully active members of our community for many years – to join in the covenant life as well.

Tony Fraga – Nadia Fraga – Matt Harris – Mary Beth Harris

Matt Harris said it well when he remarked that he had never seen or heard of any other organization in the world in which Catholics and Protestants care for and live with each other and work together to build the kingdom like we do.  (my paraphrase of his remark.)  I do not know whether or not this is strictly true; however, the ecumenism lived out with the love of a “family of families” IS a unique characteristic of the People of Praise.

Being “camera-less”, I took photos with my cell phone.  Take a look by clicking on the following link:

Covenant in NoVA Branch 2010

Click on “Detail” to view the captions.

Praise God the Father, God the Son, and Holy Spirit!

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Yesterday, October 15, was the 39th anniversary of the People of Praise community – Happy Anniversary!  28 of those years have been celebrated in the Northern Virginia branch.   🙂

I knew this intellectually but was struggling with my emotions.  While not all that amazing considering my recent trials, I am still surprised I couldn’t pull out of my blues by considering all the wonderful facets of our blessed life in community.  So, as we are still in the week of celebration, here are some:

Covenant love – In POP, you do not have to be married to experience committed, lay-down-your-life love.  It happens on a daily basis for those who participate even in the most basic way.

Women’s group – My sisters in the POP are here for me, whenever I need them.  We meet at least once a week, pray for each other, call each other, send emails, make meals, watch kids, and share life.  What a blessing!

Service – In the school carpool I’m in,  flexibility is the name of the game.  Yesterday morning, just as I was preparing to rush out the door, the other mom (a POP sister) called and asked if I had some plastic cups for her daughter’s special activity occurring later that day.  I was feeling pressed, but my commitment kicked in to “serve one another in all needs”.  I looked for and found (Hallelujah!) the cups in the pantry.   A small need (but huge as all parents know) can be met in a heartbeat in the community.

Prayer – during my ordeal with the threat of thyroid cancer and the definitive diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I have been so uplifted by prayers!  In POP, we believe that God heals.  I am counting on His healing in my situation and I know they are praying for me, even people who don’t know me well.  Yesterday, when I was feeling particularly low, one of my sisters called just to see how was doing and invite me to lunch.  Though I wasn’t able to join her, the phone call and her prayer over the phone, helped keep me going during a temptation to wallow in depression.

Brotherhood/Sisterhood – People with siblings know this kind of security, as it was proclaimed in a popular song.  “We are family, I got all my brothers and sisters with me!  We are family; get up everybody and SING!”  (Sly and the Family Stone)  In religious communities, it is common to call one another “brother” or “sister”.  However, all Christians are children of the one Father and brothers and sisters with Christ.  It blesses me greatly to experience this concretely and to know that I have a “family of families” in the People of Praise.  In fact, this coming Sunday, we will celebrate that bond of love and commitment as we do each year at this time.


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“Scottish by birth, British by law, Highlander by the grace of God.”  ~Anon



The Sound of the Pipes was heard...



[Imagine the following in a Scottish brogue]

‘Twas a true joy to attend the weekly meetin’ o’ the People o’ Praise – NoVA branch this week; after all, ’tis the season of the covenant makin’ and all the celebratin’ that goes with it.  The day dawned bonny but brisk, in the fifties with a predicted high of 65 (I dunna think  we quite managed that.)  Bits o’ blue sky could be seen tho’ spells of clouds began overtakin’ the fairness, alas!

The Clan wars were reinstated today in Burke Virginia between Clan Conroy, Clan Eng (generations removed from the old country – ahem), Clan Elliott, and Clan Forbes.



Leader of the Elliott Clan


All the youth and some adults, came forth in manly fashion, to try their hand at the Caber Toss, the egg race, and the spittin’ contest (blech!)


Younger clan member tosses the Caber *


Amidst the contestants, a few were heard to say such Scottish sayings as:

“Awa’ an bile yer heid” [Away, and boil your head – or … Get lost!]

But a spirit of camaraderie prevailed and all cheered for the contestants of the winning Clan Conroy!

Leader of Clan Conroy

After this, a time of praise and worship with outdoor songs filled the air in the greater Burke area, followed by a hasty carrying of chairs and tables into the Church Hall – the October weather in the “Highlands” of “Scottish Burke” had turned a wee bit chilly and rainy!

Elliott and Conroy at the  Butcher’s Arms in bygone times

“May … your … blessing be upon us, Lord our God                                                 as we your people gather in your Name!”

*photo of the Caber Toss by Larry Lamanna

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