Cry of the Heart

A presentation on Msgr. Albacete’s book on suffering shares his precious presence with new and old friends in St. Cloud, MN.

A book presentation, let’s say it, can be a boring thing. Words are words, whether they are spoken or written, and they convey what they can – even the Word itself became flesh, became an event to touch people’s hearts and change their existence to the point that even a book presentation can be an explosion of life. We had a book presentation in St. Cloud, MN on Cry of the Heart by Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, and as for anything centered on the work of Msgr. Albacete, you can rule boredom out.

The adventure of this public gesture (something we are not very used to here) started with Dan’s desire to “bring” Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete to St. Cloud so that those who didn’t know him could meet a new father and make a new friend. We also hoped that those who did know him could better understand how precious his presence in this world was and continues to be. The gift of this new book on the meaning of suffering is an example. Dan, like many others, got to know Lorenzo during his college years in New York City. An encounter and a new “father and son friendship” which continued until Albacete’s death in 2014. Dan, now an adult, husband and father of three beautiful children, is a former Chief Technology Officer for a big IT company. I say “former” because he survived cancer but his job did not. And the toll the sickness took – the pain and limitations – remains heavy. That’s why this book from his old friend went straight to his heart, and that’s why he really wanted St. Cloud to know of it.

To see if the idea could fly we extended the invitation to come and share to two more people: John Touhey, one of the co-founders of the Albacete forum, and Fr. Ryan Mann, Pastor of St. Basil the Great in Cleveland, Ohio. John is a very dear old friend from my New York years. He could certainly give us a picture of Monsignor, stories and anecdotes included. Fr. Ryan instead was just “a fortuitous encounter”, somebody who had fallen for Albacete by simply reading him and seeing him on YouTube without knowing anybody from our Movement, let alone Albacete himself. We had heard him on a podcast and we invited him. He accepted the invitation of unknown people from an unknown place, and we basically met on a “blind date” the day of the presentation. A handful of friends around food and wine, and the beginning of a new friendship.

The meeting room was set, the book table was in place, the speakers’ table adorned with flowers, things ready for “post-conference” refreshments prepared by our young and old community friends, the St. Cloud CL choir to open the evening. Everybody in our little community contributed with loving generosity; lots of cheerful givers. Now we know better than before that we have a lot to give, and that if you take that first step, which is always the hardest, then you end up receiving more than you gave. You receive the hundredfold, the awareness of the charism entrusted to our lives. That makes your heart grateful and therefore glad, which is the real reason why everybody was so happy even in the midst of the sufferings we all experience, as the letter below from Dan shows us.

Riro, St. Cloud, MN

Dearest Lorenzo,

I find you in my mind today. I spent the evening with your good friend Olivetta. As you know, my leukemia has come out of remission rapidly after my transplant. Olivetta reminded me of your recount of Christ to the apostles after his resurrection “don’t be afraid, it’s me”. It is easy for me to be sad in the time, as there is no medical path towards a cure, but it is hard to be afraid. Looking at my life, I see myself having been plucked out of nothing, and pulled into this life of overwhelming beauty that I could not have imagined. Fully embraced, fully loved. I ask that you stay with me in this time, and I ask that you advocate for me and a cure. I am certain that there is a miracle coming (I have a preference for the type though!).

Please pray for my family, there is much confusion and uncertainty.