Saturday, June 22, 2013

With a Bow and a Passport and the Prayers of St. Gabriel, Our Son Spreads His Wings

"As long as I have my bow and my passport, I'm good. Those are the important things." This is one of the last things our 16-year-old told me before we hugged him goodbye at the Philadelphia International Airport a few hours ago.

Tonight he and his orchestra are flying to Heathrow and then Brussels for a 10-day concert tour of Europe. He's never been off the North American continent. For our family, flying to Europe is a Very Big Deal, something my husband never has done and something I last did a quarter-century ago. This is why we showed up at Terminal A nearly five hours before his flight was scheduled to take off.

I surprised myself by bursting into tears of worry and joy right before my husband and I left Gabriel with his orchestra friends at the British Airways check-in area. (Thankfully he didn't see me do this).

We had taken him to St. Gabriel's Parish in Norwood, Pennsylvania  for a 4:30 Vigil Mass before driving north on I-95 to the airport. The church is about a 10-minute drive away and my friend Michelle suggested it would be a great send off  to ask his patron saint and namesake for prayers.

The Mass was lovely; a mandolin played from the choir loft and the visiting homilist, Father Joseph Bongard, Vice Rector of the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary,  reminded us that ours is a virbrant faith; that Christ is not Something out there in the cosmos, but rather a Someone who enters into the details of each human life and journeys with us.

God bless you son on this wonderful adventure.


  1. what a journey--for ALL of you! There are many more ways to be connected than there were even 25 years ago. Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe not so much. Keep your heart open!

    1. Thanks! Yes, we messaged over facebook while he was on the layover in Heathrow on the way to Brussels.

  2. What a beautiful send off. I would be crying too! Sending your oldest to Europe is pretty high on the list of parental accomplishments. I've never been either. I'm sure he'll have a lot of stories to tell.

  3. How exciting! I would definitely have cried a matter of fact...tears came as I read your post. Although my children have never flown off to Europe....I was a blubbering mess when I sent my son off to camp for the first time. It was rough...for me. Mothers carry a special burden that way. What a wonderful experience for him.