A very interesting year for me indeed….and this is such a good time to reflect on some highlights…

This past summer I spent 15 glorious days in Italy. I had forgotten how much I loved the food, the people and the lifestyle. I also was reminded what it is like to be part of a culture that honors its traditions and reveres it elders. Very little stress…very little rushing around…very little hustle and bustle. I found myself being brought back to the days of my childhood, where I treasured the stories of the older men in my family, or the elders of the community playing bocce or card games in the park. It brought back memories of my Holy Name Society days at St. Malachy’s in East New York. I was the youngest president of the Holy Name Society, adopted by the good men who mentored me. I suppose it was a way they could keep an eye on me…or so they thought. The message here… a simpler life…and one I miss.

Just recently I got to visit The Holy Land. Most importantly, I got to partake as a very honored Knight of The Holy Sepulchre. To be a Knight in this order is not something I originally asked for, but now have come to realize and understand may be part of my life’s mission and duty. The works of the Knights in the Holy Land and for the poor is essential in my view. What the Knights stand for is very important in this day and age, thus I take it very seriously. Being promoted to Knight Grand Cross at a ceremony in St. Patrick’s Cathedral this past fall, was an honor and a blessing.

Still, I had my reasons for taking this trip at this time and my purpose was twofold. I needed to see from a mission standpoint the problems surrounding Christian schools in the region and to try to understand the politics of the area better. I feel very confident that I have achieved an understanding…though there is much yet to be learned.

Secondly, I needed to reconnect and strengthen my faith. I am reminded of a letter Mother Theresa once wrote to then Pope John Paul II, where she questioned her faith. She was worn down and her work was in overdrive. I suppose she couldn’t understand how a universal family, indeed all of us brothers and sisters, could treat each other the way we were…and maybe she questioned why God would allow it. I certainly do not pretend to be in that conversation, but her struggle gave me courage to address my own anger and my doubts.

Just like many of you, I too was upset with the direction, or lack thereof of our Church. Of course, the accusations of and confirmations of abuse dating back many years concerned me. The way the abuse was handled…angered me. But there was much more…

The Church has become too often a den for those who are unable to connect on the pulpit and in the community. They have become a common place for mismanagement of funds and people. There is a huge disconnect and in some cases arrogance. Many in question blatantly ignore Canon Law and create their own rules. Sadly, many of their superiors are just as bad. When presented with problems and even evidence, they turn their back on those who really are the Church. The closer you get to the situation, the more you get frustrated. Sadly, the devoted and gifted leaders/priests of the flock have been put in a difficult position because of those who have taken advantage. Guilty by association…has become the battle cry. As one holy man I respect said to me…it is time to take back our Church. I had reached my Mother Theresa moment where I needed something to strengthen my faith. The Pilgrimage was my chance to re-energize my faith so that I could use all my God given tools to assist those devoted leaders and priests who have been carrying the load and to continue in my life’s mission.

My gift from heaven was the three priests and one bishop who led this pilgrimage. These very special men led us by their words, deeds and passion. When you combine this with the daily visits at the Holy sites such as Bethlehem and the Church of The Nativity, Jerusalem and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, along with moments like The Solemn Entry and The Via Dolorosa, I received the message and strength I sought when I chose to go on this Pilgrimage. I will be ever grateful for our gracious leader of the order who played a major part with our spiritual leader, in making this Pilgrimage so special and allowing the group to become a family.

The message here…the Church teachings are what we are devoted to and to be guided by. We are not to be influenced by those whose actions are in question as their time of judgement is coming.

Yes indeed…a very special day, this holiday called “Thanksgiving”…It is a day we reflect on many wonderful memories of the past, with friends and family. Yet for some…there is a feeling of sadness, that some of those very same people we shared with are no longer here with us. The holidays constantly remind us not to take each other for granted…and this particular one, encourages us to be thankful for all the gifts we had and have in our lives.  Most of all, we are thankful for the people we share our lives with…the intangibles that make our lives special and unique. I am thankful for all those I have met along the way, and their unique contributions to making me who I am…and I am thankful for the opportunity for us to be able to share each other’s talents.  A very Happy and Special Thanksgiving to you all. May God continue to bless you and your families.

Peace my brothers and sisters,

Andrew Joseph Koslosky

Chairman of the Board

The Josephine Foundation

Life’s road is an uphill journey full of obstacles and crosses we must bear. Take comfort in knowing that a precedent was set many years ago, so that when we are climbing these steps…help is waiting if we have faith and stay the course.

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